Twitter is still at the dawn of the Elon Musk era, but the new owner of the company has not hesitated to make its mark on the social network.
According to a new survey from GLAAD, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Campaign, prominent LGBTQ accounts are already noticing a difference on the platform under Musk’s leadership.
Of the 11 LGBGT organizations surveyed, five reported experiencing increased levels of abuse and hate speech following Musk’s acquisition in late October. None of the groups saw a decrease in targeted hate over the same period.
When asked if their organization had experienced a similar increase in hate on other social networks, 90% of respondents said the increase in harassment was limited to Twitter. All organizations reported experiencing hate speech and harassment on Twitter, both in the pre- and post-Musk era.
The research, which focused on accounts with more than 10,000 followers, is far from comprehensive, but it was designed to provide a snapshot of the social media landscape in the first few months after Musk’s $44 billion acquisition. After acquiring Twitter, Musk quickly reversed many of the company’s content moderation decisions, including some high-profile cases that set an ominous precedent for the platform’s many LGBTQ users.
In November, Twitter reinstated right-wing academic Jordan Peterson and The Babylon Bee, two accounts originally suspended for transphobic tweets about transgender actor Elliot Page and US health official Rachel Levine, respectively. Musk had previously characterized Peterson’s offense as “minor and questionable,” indicating his interest in overturning LGBTQ-related suspensions.
A report from GLAAD and Media Matters published in December tracked a handful of popular right-wing Twitter accounts and found a post-Musk spike in the use of the word “groomer” — an increasingly common slur that labels queer people as pedophiles . Before Musk relaxed the platform’s rules around hate, Twitter classified the term as a banned anti-LGBTQ slur.
In December, Musk himself made the baseless suggestion that Yoel Roth, Twitter’s respected former head of Trust and Safety, was a pedophile. At home.
“… This lie led directly to a wave of homophobic and anti-Semitic threats, of which Twitter has removed negligible amount… [and] eventually I had to leave my house and sell it,” Roth told Congress earlier this week.
“Those are the consequences of this kind of online harassment and remarks.”