Elon Musk, the new owner and CEO of Twitter, issued a direct response this past Sunday to the heavy criticism hurled his way by LeBron James, the star of the Los Angeles Lakers, concerning racial slurs across the platform by highlighting that the content was actually just a piece of a targeted trolling campaign and had been labeled as entirely inauthentic.
James was talking about a recent report put out by The Washington Post in which the outlet claimed that there had been an over 500% spike in usage of the n-word across Twitter in the wake of the deal finalizing and Musk taking over. “Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs,” explained the report, seemingly stating that the massive increase noticed by many people in the use of extreme racial slurs was not actually entirely organic, a fact outright omitted by the Post in their report.
The study which The Washington Post was using as the basis for their store claimed that “bad actors” were “trying to test their limits” on the platform with its new owner, all despite the fact that there had been no changes to the content moderation policies yet when the trolling started.
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,” exclaimed James in his post. “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 answered the tweets from James directly by using a statement from the Head of Safety & Integrity for Twitter, Yoel Roth, which claimed, “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 started. “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 went on. “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 finished. “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.”