On Twitter itself, researchers said the surge in hate speech, anti-Semitic posts and other disturbing content had begun before Musk relaxed the service’s content rules. That suggested another wave could be coming, they said.
More on Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover
- An established pattern: Fire people. Talk about bankruptcy. Employees tell them to be ‘hard core’. Twitter isn’t the first company to see Elon Musk use that tactic.
- To resolve a “misunderstanding”: After Mr Musk accused Apple of threatening to pull Twitter from the App Store, it seems a possible feud between the tech titans has been avoided.
- A ‘war for talent’: Several companies see disinformation as a potentially costly liability and are trying to hire former Twitter employees with the expertise to keep it under control.
- Unpaid bills: Mr. Musk and his advisors have been scrutinizing all types of charges at Twitter, instructing staff to review, renegotiate, and in some cases not pay at all from third-party suppliers.
If that happens, it’s unclear whether Mr. Musk will have policies to deal with problematic speech or, even if he does, whether Twitter will have the employees to keep up with moderation. Mr. Musk fired, fired or accepted the resignation of more than half of the company’s staff last month, including those who worked to remove harassment, foreign interference and disinformation from the service. Yoel Roth, head of Twitter’s trust of safety, was among those who quit.
The Anti-Defamation League, which regularly sends reports of anti-Semitic tweets to Twitter and tracks which posts have been deleted, said the company had moved from taking action on 60 percent of the tweets it reported to just 30 percent.
“We have advised Musk that Twitter should not only enforce the policies it has had in place for years, but also devote resources to those policies,” said Yael Eisenstat, a vice president of the Anti-Defamation League, which Mr. Musk met. last month. She said he didn’t seem interested in taking the advice of civil rights groups and other organizations.
“His actions to date show that he is not committed to a transparent process where he incorporates the best practices we have learned from civil society organizations,” Ms Eisenstat said. “Instead, he has encouraged racists, homophobes and anti-Semites.”
The lack of action extends to new accounts affiliated with terror groups and others that Twitter previously banned. According to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that studies online platforms, 450 accounts related to ISIS were created in the first 12 days after Musk took control, 69 percent more than the previous 12 days.
Other social media companies are also increasingly concerned about how content is moderated on Twitter.