By Riley Dauber
It seems like there is nothing a billionaire cannot do. Whether they want to explore space or build self-driving cars, the new era of billionaires in America have enough money to try whatever idea comes to mind.
For CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk, that idea was purchasing social media platform Twitter, which he has discussed buying since April 2022. He officially purchased Twitter on Oct. 27.
Musk’s goal in owning the social media site was to encourage more “free speech,” since he believed the platform was limiting what could or could not be said, according to Reuters. Based on this statement, it is not surprising to see that the amount of hate speech has only increased since his purchase.
“Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover sparked a surge in the use of the N-word on the social media platform,” Philip Lewis tweeted. “A social media research group told The Washington Post the use of the slur increased by nearly 500%.”
Following Musk’s Twitter purchase, many celebrities expressed concerns over the rise in hate speech and the new owner.
“I don’t know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns Twitter. 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 d—n unfit people saying hate speech is free speech,” LeBron James tweeted.
Other celebrities are leaving because Musk has fired a majority of Twitter’s staff, including the human resources department.
Model Gigi Hadid, who has maintained a large Twitter following for ten years, posted on her Instagram story that she would be deactivating her account.
“I deactivated my Twitter account today. For a long time, but especially with its new leadership, it’s becoming more and more of a cesspool of hate and bigotry, and it’s not a place I want to be a part of,” Hadid wrote.
Although Twitter encourages rabid fan culture and trolls, it seemed like the platform was moving in the right direction, after Twitter banned former President Trump’s account after he posted false statements about voter fraud following the 2020 election.
However, Musk’s encouragement of hate speech on the platform is a step backwards. Following his purchase on Oct. 27, “many Twitter users posted racial slurs or misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ messages,” according to Insider.
Musk has stated that he is looking to form a council to determine what type of speech is allowed on the platform, but later tweeted “We have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content-moderation policies.”
So far, the way Musk is handling the social media platform and the rise in hate speech is disappointing, but many could have predicted that the billionaire would not care about the uptick in hate speech. The fact that he is allegedly lying about wanting to solve the problem is creating more harm on a platform that is only encouraging more hate.
It is also troubling to see the amount of employees Musk has fired thus far. According to Business Insider, “Approximately half the company’s workforce has been laid off with little notice, prompting concern from the United Nations.”
Not only is the company struggling with an uncontrolled platform of hate, but the lack of employees means these issues will most likely not be solved in the near future. Many of the employees that Musk fired were either from the human rights department or would have had a say in what can and cannot be posted on Twitter, according to The Atlantic. With these people out of a job, it is likely that there will be less of a control on the type of speech available on the platform.
Twitter may lose more users, who are either fed up with Musk’s ownership or the increased hate speech.
According to The Atlantic, “What Musk is showing us in real time is the folly of equating financial success with intellect, managerial savvy, and good judgment.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo Caption: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk purchased Twitter on Oct. 27, causing an uptick in hate speech on the already negative platform.