Science

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After months of brawling between Elon Musk and Twitter executives over his bid to own the company, Tesla’s founder was officially control given on Friday, But as the new leader emerged at the top, the platform saw a massive spike in hate speech, a new study found.

Researchers at Montclair State University found that Twitter saw a much more “hostile” environment in the 12 hours immediately after Musk took ownership. The team found tweets filled with “obscene and hostile” rhetoric aimed at targeting people based on their race, religion, ethnicity, and orientation as the “N-word,” “K-word,” and “F-word” Had to do. Find out how bad it got.

And what they found was an “immediate, visible and measurable spike.”

In the week before Musk’s acquisition, researchers said the platform had no more than 84 hostile tweets an hour. But from midnight on October 28 – the day Musk took ownership – until noon the next day, there were 4,778 hate tweets. It generates over 398 tweets an hour, which is almost 4.7 times the average of the seven days leading up to that day. The researchers found that those tweets had a potential reach of more than 3 million.

The researchers also noted that more than 67% of tweets sent after Musk’s acquisition were accompanied by an increase in negative sentiment.

In sum, the content and tone of Twitter posts more oriented toward hate speech the day Elon Musk became CEO of the company gained significant access to this hate material, the study said.

Twitter’s head of security and security, Joel Roth, also confirmed the rise in hate speech. On Monday, he tweeted that the company had seen an “increase in hateful conduct” and had removed more than 1,500 accounts. The graph he shared shows the total impact of the tweets, with at least one slur, that began to rise on Friday, shortly after the Musk acquisition was announced. Between Saturday and Sunday, it saw a sharp rise.

Roth described the escalation as a “short-term trolling campaign”, with several accounts he repeatedly removed from “bad actors”. On Saturday, he said as an example that more than 50,000 tweets that used a particular abuse were issued by only 300 accountsMost of which were “unproven”.

“These issues are not new, and people targeted by hateful conduct are not numbers or data points. We will continue to invest in policy and technology to make things better,” he tweeted.

While the Montclair researchers made it clear that the takeover saw an immediate increase in hostile language on the platform, what remains unclear is the specific reason for this. Musk has long said that this ownership of Twitter would come with fewer restrictions, but the researchers said it is “speculative” to know whether his potential policy changes would have caused the spike.

However, it is possible that users resorted to language based on their past feelings as they felt that they would no longer be banned or suspended from the platform. It’s also possible that “the unmodified platform was potentially a source of excitement,” the researchers said.

Musk hasn’t explicitly said what will be tolerated on the platform since the boom began, though he has retweeted Roth’s statements about the boom. On Friday, Musk said that Twitter will create “a content moderation council with widely diverse perspectives” and that no major content decisions will be made before that council is convened.

Musk said Tuesday night, “Twitter will not allow anyone who is not allowed to return to the platform for violating Twitter’s rules until we have a clear process in place for doing so, including At least it will take a few more weeks.” “Twitter’s Content Moderation Council will be comprised of representatives with widely differing views, which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups confronting hate violence.”

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