N-Word Use on Twitter Jumps Almost 500% After Musk Takeover: Report

  • Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has sparked a spike in the use of the N-word on the social media platform.
  • A social media research group told The Washington Post that the use of the slur has increased by nearly 500%.
  • Musk said Twitter would form a “content moderation board with many different perspectives.”

After self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk struck a $44 billion deal on Twitter, anonymous accounts have taken to testing the limits of the social media platform’s moderation policies, The Washington Post reported.

The Network Infection Research Institute (NCRI), a research group that analyzes social media content to predict emerging threats, said that use of the N-word on Twitter increased nearly 500% in the 12 hours immediately after Musk’s deal was finalized.

The newspaper also noted that several online trolling accounts called on others to use racist language after the deal.

“Elon now controls Twitter. Give free rein to racial slurs. K—S AND N—–S,” one account said, using slurs about Jews and black people, according to the outlet.

“I can freely express how much I hate n—–s … now, thank you Elon,” said another, The Post reported.

a journalist David Leavitt also noticed an increase in accounts tweeting hate speech. He tweeted on Friday: “There is a massive flood of literally hundreds of people every minute using the N-word and rampant hate speech happening on Twitter right now after the Elon buyout.”

Twitter was also flooded with sexist and anti-LGBTQ messages, according to The Post. Anonymous trolling accounts conducted “tests” of Twitter’s moderation policies by calling out transgender people and using offensive terms such as “groomer,” according to the report.

“Almost immediately I noticed an increase in anti-trans harassment, it’s very visible,” said Erin Reed, a trans activist and queer legislative researcher, according to The Washington Post.

Some of the Twitter posts appear to have been organized on other platforms, including 4chan, NCRI said.

Alex Goldenberg, NCRI’s lead intelligence analyst, told The Washington Post that “online trolls regularly test the limits of moderation.” He added that online trolls may be intent on “making as much of a mess as possible for Twitter’s new leadership.”

Musk tweeted on Friday that Twitter would form a “content moderation board with very diverse perspectives.” He added that major decisions on moderation will not be made until the council meets.

However, conservative figures celebrated the deal, suggesting Twitter’s new ownership would loosen rules on content moderation and strengthen free speech.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Green tweeted “FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!!” on Thursday evening. On the same day, Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted that Musk’s purchase of Twitter was “the most important development for free speech in decades.”

In the hours before the deal closed, the accounts of far-right figures appeared to see an increase in followers. Accounts belonging to Colorado Rep. Lauren Bobert and Arizona Rep. Carrie Lake, for example, saw a spike in new followers in the 24 hours leading up to the deal’s finalization, according to Memetica, a digital investigative company.

Thousands of new accounts were created during that period, The New York Times reports.

Memetica CEO Ben Decker told the paper that the accounts, which have gained thousands of followers, “are really well-known purveyors of misinformation, harassment and hate.”

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