According to a new survey conducted by GLAAD, Amnesty International, and the Human Rights Campaign, notable LGBTQ accounts are already observing a change on the platform under Musk’s direction.
Five of eleven LGBGT organizations questioned reported an increase in harassment and hate speech following Musk’s late-October takeover. During the same time span, none of the groups experienced a decline in targeted hate.
When asked if their organization had experienced a similar surge in hate on other social networks, 90% of respondents responded that the increase in harassment was exclusive to Twitter. In both the pre-Musk and post-Musk eras, hate speech and harassment were reported by all groups on Twitter.
The survey, which focused on accounts with more than 10,000 followers, is by no means exhaustive, but it was intended to give a “snapshot” of the social media environment in the months following Musk’s $44 billion acquisition. After acquiring Twitter, Musk swiftly reversed a number of the company’s content moderation judgments, including some high-profile cases that set a troubling precedent for the platform’s many LGBTQ users.
In November, Twitter reinstated the accounts of right-wing scholar Jordan Peterson and The Babylon Bee, which had been suspended for sending transphobic comments about transgender actor Elliot Page and U.S. health official Rachel Levine, respectively. Musk has previously described Peterson’s offense as “small and questionable,” showing his openness to restoring punishments for LGBTQ-related conduct.
Research published in December by GLAAD and Media Matters examined a handful of popular right-wing Twitter accounts and discovered a post-Musk increase in the use of the term “groomer” — a slur that increasingly classifies LGBTQ individuals as pedophiles. Prior to Musk’s easing of Twitter’s rules regarding hate speech, the phrase was categorized as a prohibited anti-LGBTQ slur.
Musk personally made the baseless allegation that Yoel Roth, Twitter’s esteemed former head of Trust and Safety, was a pedophile in December, sparking a whirlwind of anti-LGBTQ hate that ultimately pushed the homosexual former Twitter executive out of his Bay Area home.
“… This lie led directly to a wave of homophobic and antisemitic threats, of which Twitter has removed vanishingly little… [and] ultimately I had to leave my home and sell it,” Roth told Congress earlier this week.
“Those are the consequences of this kind of online harassment and speech.”