New Twitter CEO Elon Musk responded Sunday to criticisms from the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James about racial slurs on the platform by noting that the content was part of a trolling campaign and had been deemed inauthentic.
James was responding to a report in The Washington Post that claimed there had been a 500% increase in the use of the n-word on Twitter following Musk taking over. “Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs,” the report said, suggesting that the increase in the use of slurs may not have been completely organic, which The Post did not mention.
The study The Washington Post relied upon said “bad actors” were “trying to test the limits” on Twitter, even though no content moderation changes have been made.
Evidence suggests that bad actors are trying to test the limits on @Twitter. Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs.
For example, over the last 12 hours, the use of the n-word has increased nearly 500% from the previous average. pic.twitter.com/mEqziaWuMF
— Network Contagion Research Institute (@ncri_io) October 28, 2022
“I dont know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter,” James tweeted. “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.”
Musk responded to James’s tweet with a statement from Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Safety & Integrity, that said, “Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 30, 2022
“Let’s talk for a minute about slurs, hateful conduct, and trolling campaigns,” the statement began. “Bottom line up front: Twitter’s policies haven’t changed. Hateful conduct has no place here. And we’re taking steps to put a stop to an organized effort to make people think we have.”
“Our Rules prohibit Hateful Conduct,” the statement continued. “This includes targeting people with dehumanizing content and slurs. This DOESN’T mean we have a list of words that are always banned. Context matters. For example, our policies are written to protect reclaimed speech.”
“Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts,” the statement concluded. “Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic. We’ve taken action to ban the users involved in this trolling campaign — and are going to continue working to address this in the days to come to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone.”