Elon Musk, a staunch media critic, took aim at a BBC report alleging misogyny on Twitter had exploded under his leadership of the platform. STR—NurPhoto via Getty Images
Elon Musk has derided a report by Britain’s BBC which claimed hate speech directed at women has been on the rise on Twitter since he acquired the social media platform.
Citing data from UK think tank Strategic Dialogue, the publicly funded broadcaster wrote on Monday that there had been a 69% increase in new Twitter accounts created after the entrepreneur took office following profiles misogynistic and abusive.
The story’s claims contradict Musk’s past claims that hate speech was on the decline after a brief spike when he acquired the company in late October for $44 billion.
“Sorry for turning Twitter from a nurturing paradise into a place that has… trolls,” he said. tweeted in response, posting a screenshot of the article from an “organization calling itself (the) bbc”.
EXCL: Twitter insiders have told me and BBC Panorama that it is no longer able to protect users from trolling, state-coordinated misinformation and exploitation of children. Exclusive data and testimonials from Twitter users suggest hate and trolls are on the rise. BBC One, 8 p.m. https://t.co/EhfMapHayV
— Marianna Spring (@mariannaspring) March 6, 2023
Musk has been a lightning rod for controversy from the moment the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” bought the company under duress.
Just hours after showing up at headquarters for the first time with a sink as a gag, he spread false claims that the attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband could have been a gay lover’s quarrel. Musk later apologized in January.
Moreover, after promising from the start that Twitter would not become a toxic cesspool for advertisers, he vowed to launch a “thermonuclear name and shamecampaign against companies that have stopped spending on Twitter ads.
Restraining influences like Esther Crawford, who allegedly helped smooth over differences between Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook, have since been let loose.
The BBC report also spoke to former staff, including Lisa Jennings Young, former head of content design at Twitter and one of the people who specialized in introducing features designed to protect users. of hatred.
After Musk fired her entire team, Jennings Young told the UK broadcaster that she chose to leave at the end of November and could no longer identify features that helped mitigate online attacks.
“There’s no one to work on that right now,” she said in the report.
Twitter’s goal to supplant mainstream media as a news-gathering force
Musk’s derisive reaction to the report should come as no surprise.
The centibillionaire is an ardent critic of trained journalists, going so far as to cut off all lines of communication by firing the entire public relations department of Twitter in accordance with the measures he had already taken for a long time at Tesla.
Instead, he wants to position Twitter as the ultimate newsgatherer by relying on a volunteer army of “citizen journalists” who he says are more trustworthy than professional media with their editorial orientation.
Hate speech impressions down 1/3 from pre-peak levels. Congratulations to the Twitter team! pic.twitter.com/5BWaQoIlip
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
Musk, however, changed the platform’s recommendation algorithm to increase its subscriber reach to $8 per month as a service benefit of Twitter Blue in a type of pay-to-play system.
“As Twitter pursues the goal of elevating citizen journalism, the media elite will do anything to prevent this from happening,” he said. posted in November. In January, he then said that “the media wants to control what you know”.
Musk has also angered human rights groups after gutting teams monitoring human rights and hate speech, for example in foreign languages that artificial intelligence struggles with. to understand contextually and to filter.
“We’re not talking about…hurt feelings, we’re talking about preventing dangerous genocidal hate speech,” the executive director of human rights group Equality Labs told reporters in late November. “It only takes four hours from a tweet to enter a mass atrocity in the Indian context.”
In a bid to restore faith that post-Musk Twitter no longer puts its thumbs in the balance of social debate, a criticism he leveled at it under the previous leadership, Musk promised last month to reveal how it works. internally by creating the platform’s proprietary recommendation algorithm. Open source.
Nevertheless, despite promising that it would be done before March, he did not deliver on his promises.