Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk appears at a meeting in Stavanger, Norway on August 29, 2022. (Photo by CARINA JOHANSEN / NTB / AFP via Getty Images)
Minutes after Elon Musk became Twitter’s official owner, the platform was filled with vile hate speech as users celebrated.The very first hours of Musk’s stewardship of the social media platform have been dominated by his supporters relishing their ability to use profane slurs and racial epithets, and a torrent of racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, and transphobic hate speech continued Friday morning.
“Since Elon Musk made Twitter free speech haven, I'll say this: FUCK N*****S,” one account tweeted. “Fuck n*****s and fuck the jews,” another tweeted alongside a picture of Pepe the Frog, a far-right symbol.Other Twitter users documented other examples of hate speech proliferating on the site Thursday evening and into Friday morning.
Musk’s first act as owner of the company was to fire its top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s longtime head of legal, police, trust and safety. Many read this as a sign that Musk will be taking a much more laissez-faire approach to the type of content allowed on the platform. Many of the earlier tweets have been deleted and some of the accounts suspended, indicating that Twitter’s moderation policies remain in place. However, those systems are being harshly tested on Friday morning as a search of the latest tweets for a variety of hateful phrases shows a seemingly unending stream of toxic content.Musk on Thursday tried to reassure advertisers that Twitter would be “warm and welcoming to all,” adding that it would not descend into a “free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”
One account that’s expected to be reactivated under Musk’s leadership is that of former President Donald Trump. But on Friday morning, Trump said he was happy posting on his own network, Truth Social, which he claimed had “become somewhat of a phenomena.”Comparing it to Twitter and other social networks, Trump said Truth Social “also looks and works better to my eye. I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country. Twitter must now work hard to rid itself of all of the bots and fake accounts that have hurt it so badly. It will be much smaller, but better. I LOVE TRUTH!”Users celebrating Musk’s Twitter takeover have also felt emboldened to directly target others. A number of users, predominantly women, have said that the level of abuse they’re receiving has shot up in the hours since Musk’s takeover.Others appear to see Musk’s takeover as the final straw and have claimed they’ll be deleting their Twitter accounts, something those on the far-right are also celebrating.