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Within the first week of Twitter being purchased by Elon Musk, the use of the n-word has surged nearly 500% on the social media platform.
Back in April, Musk made headlines when he tweeted his intentions to purchase Twitter for $44 billion. Three months later he tried to back out of the deal claiming “Twitter has not complied with its contractual obligations.” Now, with the $44 billion deal finally going through and Musk taking over, the “free speech” he claimed to champion has flooded the platform with the n-word and other racial slurs with no consequence.
Musk declared himself a “free speech absolutist” saying “given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”
the bird is freed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
After acquiring Twitter, Musk claimed that “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” but in the hours that followed his takeover, racial slurs surged on the site.
According to the Network Contagion Research Institute, a neutral and independent organization whose mission is to identify and forecast cyber-social threats according to their website, the use of the n-word increased nearly 500% in the 12 hours following Musk’s takeover.
Evidence suggests that bad actors are trying to test the limits on @Twitter. Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs.
For example, over the last 12 hours, the use of the n-word has increased nearly 500% from the previous average. pic.twitter.com/mEqziaWuMF
— Network Contagion Research Institute (@ncri_io) October 28, 2022
The hate speech on the platform surged after Musk came in and essentially cleared house of senior executives, including dissolving the company’s board and making himself “sole director” of the company.
With influential figures like Kanye West making anti-semitic comments, or Donald Trump inciting the January 6 insurrection largely using Twitter, many are concerned that the hate speech on the platform left unchecked will bring more harm to an already divided country.
Musk has claimed that the content moderation council is being formed, but based on the amount of unchecked hate speech flourishing on Twitter at this very moment, it may be too little too late.