Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter, the platform has seen a surge in racist slurs, anti-Semitic remarks and offensive memes.
Bloomberg reports that dozens of anonymous trolls registered on the social network and began posting on topics that in the past had been heavily moderated by Twitter - such as inciting hatred against protected groups and spreading false information about Covid-19 and its vaccines.
The Washington Post also reported that "racial slurs were posted rampantly overnight," in the hours immediately following Musk's takeover. In addition, the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), a non-profit organisation that studies misinformation on social platforms, said it noticed a spike in the number of n-words on Twitter.
“Evidence suggests that bad actors are trying to test the limits on @Twitter,” the group said. “Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs.”
Users are using other platforms and social networks to coordinate the promotion of racist slurs, anti-Semitic remarks and offensive memes.
Unfortunately, this spike in hateful language is entirely predictable. For most of these trolls, it’s a game. But for others, including certain political influencers, saying hateful, outlandish things helps them increase their audience and make money. And they see this as a golden opportunity to gain even more attention,
Dr. Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics at George Washington University, said.
Musk, who describes himself as "a free speech absolutist", promised that under his watch Twitter won't become "free-for-all hellscape." Musk has repeatedly spoken out against Twitter's enforcement strategies, such as permanently banning certain high-profile accounts.
Musk also tweeted that Twitter will form "a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints." Until the council is convened, he said, major decisions on content and account reinstatement are on hold.
On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League's Centre Against Extremism said it had uncovered a coordinated effort to spread anti-Semitic content on Twitter, “explicitly drawing inspiration from Elon Musk’s takeover.” In the last day, the group said, it identified more than 1,200 tweets and retweets on the platform that spread anti-Semitic memes.