Musk’s Twitter takeover causes flood of racist tweets, reactions

“Twitter has a right, and a responsibility, to keep its platform from being exploited to fuel a dangerous media environment,” said LGBTQ+ advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign.

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Civil rights groups and celebrities are airing concerns after the “free speech” revolution that Elon Musk promised would result from his takeover of Twitter on Thursday appears to have caused a surge of racist language on the platform from anonymous accounts.

The billionaire Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder has yet to implement user policy changes since completing the $44 billion deal this week. However, his previously announced plans to reinstate banned accounts and “free” the platform from censorship may have encouraged a 500% spike in N-word usage and a wave of Nazi memes in the days following his acquisition, per The Washington Post.

This image from the Twitter page of Elon Musk shows Musk entering Twitter headquarters carrying a sink through the lobby area on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 in San Francisco. Musk posted a video Wednesday showing him strolling into Twitter headquarters ahead of a Friday deadline to close his $44 billion deal to buy the company. (Twitter page of Elon Musk via AP)

On Thursday, Musk tweeted assurances to advertisers that he intends to steer the platform away from being a “free-for-all hellscape” of radical political polarization. He added on Friday that a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints” would convene prior to any concrete rule changes.

Musk’s proposed council may have their work cut out for them. By Friday, the bombardment of troll users testing the new limits of the platform had already caused concern among civil rights organizations including LGBTQ+ advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign, according to the Post.

“Twitter has a right, and a responsibility, to keep its platform from being exploited to fuel a dangerous media environment,”the group said in a statement, per the outlet. “This isn’t about censorship or discrimination of ideas — it is about what kind of company they want to be and what kind of world they want to shape.”

The rise in hate speech additionally caught the attention of prominent public figures such as basketball superstar LeBron James, who reacted to reports of increased N-word tweets after Musk took charge.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 29, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

“I don’t know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter.  But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF.  So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech,” the NBA star tweeted on Saturday.

R&B star Toni Braxton announced she will be remaining off of the platform in the wake of Musk’s arrival out of concern that the site’s landscape will become increasingly unsafe for users of color.

“I’m shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition. Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC,” Braxton tweeted on Friday.

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