Report: Tweets containing racial slurs skyrocket since Musk takeover

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Cases of racial slurs have skyrocketed on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the influential platform, despite assurances from the platform that it has curtailed hateful activity, a rights advocacy group reported Thursday. digital civil rights.

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Researchers from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that the number of tweets containing one of various racial slurs skyrocketed the week after Musk bought Twitter.

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A racial epithet used to attack black people was found more than 26,000 times, three times the 2022 average. Use of a slur targeting trans people increased by 53%, while instances of a term offensive to gay men increased by 39% during the year. medium.

Instances of offensive terms used to target Jews and Hispanics have also increased.

In total, the researchers looked at nearly 80,000 English-language tweets and retweets from around the world containing one of the offensive terms they were looking for.

“The figures show that despite claims by Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, that the platform was successful in reducing the number of times hate speech was seen on the search page and Twitter trends, the actual volume of hateful tweets has increased,” according to analysis from the center, a non-profit organization with offices in the US and UK.

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On Wednesday, Roth acknowledged the recent increase in hate speech on the site, but said the platform had made significant progress in bringing the numbers down.

“We’ve halted the spike in hateful behavior, but the level of hateful activity on the service is now about 95% lower than it was before the acquisition,” Roth said in broadcast remarks. live on Twitter. “The changes we’ve made and the proactive enforcement we’ve done make Twitter safer than it was before.”

On October 31, Twitter announced that 1,500 accounts had been removed for posting hate speech. The company also said it has significantly reduced the visibility of posts containing slurs, making them harder to find on the platform.

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“We actually saw hate speech this week drop (asterisk) below (asterisk) our previous standards, contrary to what you may read in the press,” Musk tweeted last week.

Musk has described himself as a free speech absolutist, and is expected to revamp Twitter’s content moderation policies. Despite saying no changes have been made so far, Musk has made significant layoffs at the company, raising questions about its ability to curb misinformation and hate speech ahead of the election midterm on Tuesday.

It may take some time to accurately assess the platform’s performance in the election and to determine whether Twitter has adopted a different strategy for content that violates its policies, said Renee DiResta, head of research at the Internet Observatory. from Stanford.

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“The civic integrity policy has remained unchanged,” DiResta said of Twitter under its new ownership. “Now there is a difference between having a policy and enforcing a policy.”

Shortly after Musk bought Twitter, some users posted hate speech, ostensibly to test the limits of the platform under its new owner.

Within 12 hours of completing the Musk purchase, references to a specific racist epithet used to demean black people increased by 500%, according to analysis conducted by the Network Contagion Research Institute, a firm based in Princeton, New York. Jersey, which tracks misinformation. .

Twitter did not immediately respond to messages on Thursday seeking comment on the new report’s findings.



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