How Elon Musk's tweets unleashed a wave of hate

2 months ago 56

Tweet from Elon Musk's relationship  which reads, 'True, person  to admit   trolls are kinda fun'.Image source, Social media

Image caption,

Twitter's proprietor responded to the BBC's probe successful a fig of tweets

By Marianna Spring

BBC Disinformation and societal media correspondent

I had conscionable finished my probe into whether Twitter tin support users nether Elon Musk's ownership, erstwhile - to my astonishment - the antheral himself tweeted astir it.

"Sorry for turning Twitter from nurturing paradise into a spot that has… trolls," helium said successful 1 tweet, posting a screengrab of the report.

According to Twitter's ain data, that tweet was seen by much than 30 cardinal profiles.

"Trolls are kinda fun," Mr Musk said successful different reply, successful his effect to my BBC probe - Twitter insiders: We can't support users from trolling nether Musk.

It had exposed however hatred is thriving nether Twitter's caller owner. Current and erstwhile Twitter employees told maine "nobody is taking attraction of" features designed to support users from hatred and harm.

I had approached Elon Musk arsenic portion of my Panorama investigation, but helium didn't respond.

Instead, helium decided to stock his absorption to it afterwards with much than 130 cardinal followers connected his societal media site.

Image source, Twitter

Image caption,

Elon Musk did not formally respond to the BBC investigation, but did reply connected Twitter

There person been hundreds of posts, galore including misogynistic slurs and abusive language. There person besides been threatening messages, including depictions of kidnap and hanging.

Mr Musk posted again, responding to 1 tweet that was captious of the BBC investigation. He wrote "roflmao" - "rolling connected the level laughing my ass off."

I present recovered myself wading done much hateful messages sent from accounts predominantly based successful the US and UK. Mr Musks' tweets triggered a immense measurement of hate, immoderate sent from accounts which had antecedently been suspended.

More impervious to backmost up BBC Panorama's probe - that hatred connected Twitter is thriving.

The bulk of hateful messages were directed astatine me. Abuse connected Twitter is thing caller for me. After all, I'm a newsman who shares my sum of disinformation, conspiracies and hatred there.

For my archetypal investigation, a squad from the International Center for Journalists and the University of Sheffield tracked the hatred I had received and revealed it had tripled since Elon Musk's takeover, compared to the aforesaid play the erstwhile year.

Disinformation Correspondent Marianna Spring talks astir reporting connected trolls, online maltreatment and Elon Musk.

Elon Musk's Twitter Storm

Marianna Spring investigates however Elon Musk's ownership is transforming 1 of the world's astir influential societal media platforms.

In the aftermath of Mr Musk's tweets astir me, the University of Sheffield confirmed that the hatred had accrued again - to the highest levels successful the past year.

And the tools the squad utilized could not adjacent prime up each the abuse. Some of it didn't usage my sanction straight oregon was successful effect to Mr Musk's archetypal tweet, which attracted much than 14,000 replies.

Others were backstage messages - which included a video of a pistillate being tied up and held astatine gunpoint, and different showing hangings. There were besides immoderate which included talking astir my clip ending "in a horrible way" and wanting maine to "burn successful hell".

Many combined misogynistic slurs with abusive and sexualised language. I was repeatedly called a bitch and overmuch nastier insults. Most of the messages were received connected Twitter, with a tiny fig sent to maine connected different sites pursuing Mr Musk's tweets.

During my archetypal investigation, I had looked into profiles sending retired maltreatment connected Twitter. Many had go much progressive connected the societal media tract since Elon Musk decided to reconstruct thousands of suspended accounts.

This time, I looked into the accounts sending maine abuse. Many of the accounts had go much progressive since the takeover, and respective openly rejoiced however their profiles had returned since Mr Musk bought the platform.

Some were salient conspiracy theorists brought backmost by Mr Musk. Several had the caller paid-for bluish "verified" ticks.

Image source, Reuters

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Elon Musk took power of Twitter successful October 2022

Whenever I've been connected the receiving extremity of a deluge of hatred successful the past year, I've utilized societal media features to support myself. This clip around, those tools connected Twitter didn't look to beryllium moving the aforesaid way.

Safety mode, which automatically blocks abusive accounts, was blocking immoderate accounts sharing hatred - but it was also, successful error, blocking users who were posting supportively.

This matches up with what existent and erstwhile employees astatine Twitter told maine astir however features - similar the "harmful reply nudge", intended to support Twitter users from trolling and harassment - are proving hard to support and are moving inconsistently.

At slightest fractional of Twitter's workforce person been sacked oregon chosen to permission since Mr Musk bought it.

When I went backmost to those insiders to inquire what they thought astir the caller question of online abuse, respective said it further confirmed concerns they had raised astir Twitter nether Mr Musk.

I person approached Elon Musk and Twitter respective times to inquire astir his imaginativeness for the societal media site. I've been successful interaction with some Twitter and Mr Musk again to question their effect to the further spike successful hatred I've received since his tweets. They person not responded.

Since then, the email relationship for the Twitter property bureau present automatically sends retired poo emojis successful effect to requests. Twitter policies, which are publically disposable online, accidental that "defending and respecting the user's voice" remains 1 of its "core values".

This latest occurrence raises questions astir what state of look truly means connected the caller Twitter, wherever trolling seems to beryllium just crippled and adjacent journalists looking to clasp the societal media level to relationship go the targets.

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