Illustration shows Elon Musk photo and Twitter logo
Twitter CEO Elon Musk. Image/Reuters Reuters

New research conducted by tech firm CASM Technology and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has revealed that antisemitic tweets have more than doubled since Elon Musk took over Twitter last year.

Musk bought Twitter in October, when he closed the deal with $13 billion in loans and a $33.5 billion equity commitment. The tech tycoon has been the subject of various controversies since then. The latest research points out how his policies have given rise to hate speech on the platform.

The researchers analysed over a million tweets with the help of various tech tools for "plausibly antisemitic" tweets between June 2022 and February 2023. The findings, which have not been peer-reviewed, revealed that there was a 105 per cent increase in the number of such tweets from October 27 to February 9, 2023.

"In all, a total of 325,739 tweets from 146,516 accounts were labelled as 'plausibly antisemitic' over the course of our study, stretching from June 1, 2022, to Feb. 9, 2023," per the report.

Jewish investor and philanthropist George Soros was mentioned more than 19,000 times in antisemitic tweets, with several users claiming that he was a member of the "Nazi" world order, writes The Conversation. Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and moved to England in 1947, at the age of 17. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, was not spared either.

Musk's management skills and his policies have come under severe criticism, with several employees leaving the organisation after his acquisition of the app.

Musk calls himself a "free speech absolutist," and did away with Twitter's independent Trust and Safety Council, laid off hundreds of employees, and reinstated banned accounts. He believes that content permitted by law can be allowed on Twitter.

The accounts that were reinstated included those of former US President Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West. It needs to be noted that West was banned from Twitter for posting antisemitic tweets. He was dropped as a brand ambassador by several famous firms after his tweets led to an outrage.

Musk had to again ban West after the latter posted antisemitic tweets soon after his account was reinstated. He also did away with the policy that prevented the spread of Covid misinformation.

During the pandemic, the microblogging platform had begun to label misleading tweets about COVID as misinformation. Since acquiring the platform, he has reduced Twitter's workforce by half, leaving many employees disgruntled.

An analysis by the Network Contagion Research Institute found that the use of the N-word on Twitter, a racist term used against black people, increased by almost 500% after Elon Musk's acquisition of the platform. It found that most of the tweets using the N-word were from anonymous trolls.

"I can freely express how much I hate n*****s ... now, thank you elon [sic]," wrote an anonymous Twitter user. Another person tweeted: "Elon now controls Twitter. Unleash the racial slurs. K***S AND N*****S."

Twitter's then head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, had put the blame for this sudden rise on a "trolling campaign." He said that most of these hateful tweets had come from just 300 accounts, nearly all of which were "inauthentic."

"Twitter's policies haven't changed. Hateful conduct has no place here. And we're taking steps to put a stop to an organized effort to make people think we have," Roth said.

The racist trend has forced human rights activists and several prominent personalities to ask for swift action against hate speech on Twitter. NBA star LeBron James also asked Musk to take action against it. Musk had pledged to ensure unrestricted free speech on Twitter before he bought it. People are now worried that it may lead to a rise in hate speech and violent conflict.