Twitter’s Former C.E.O. Elon Musk And The Rise In Hate Speech

As Elon Musk finalised the purchase of Twitter on April 25th, the news met with excitement and concern, as Musk is known for his outspoken and somewhat controversial personality. After a tumultuous first few months as C.E.O., Musk decided to poll the public on December 19th to reveal what they thought of his questionable status as chief executive. The people made their voices clear as 57.5% requested the entrepreneur to step down. In a statement released two days later, Musk said he would leave his position, not before finding “someone foolish enough to take the job.”

Musk is no stranger to social media, where his behaviour has often been viewed as combative and divisive while using provocative language to convey his messages. His role as C.E.O. has exacerbated the rise of cyberbullying, the deluge of racist tweets, and the pervasive atmosphere of social hatred. From the beginning of his tenure, the multi-billionaire fired several Twitter employees, including top executives. One of his most recent decisions was the dissolution of the Trust and Safety Council. The council, established in 2016, was formed to address issues such as hate speech, terrorist propaganda, child exploitation, and suicide affecting the platform’s users. Musk’s move bears the risk of converting Twitter into an unregulated global public forum. According to the Washington Post’s article by Cat Zakrzewski, Joseph Menn and Naomi Nix, the council members received an email notifying them that it was no longer the best venue for including outside viewpoints while developing new products and corporate policies. Musk reversed some previous council decisions by re-activating contentious suspended accounts like Donald Trump’s.

Trump’s tweets have often fanned the flames of hate and tension, particularly when it comes to the issues of race, religion, and political ideology. He has frequently targeted specific groups, such as immigrants, Muslims, and people of colour, occasionally deeming them “rapists” and “animals” and often resulting in increased hostilities against minorities.

The effects of hate speech are wide-ranging; direct assaults, such as threats or harassment, can harm a person’s psychological well-being and emotional stability, while indirect assaults can undermine their reputation and dignity. Additionally, inciting hatred results in the spread of discriminatory stereotypes, the de-humanisation of certain groups, and an overall decrease in empathy. Twitter is at the precipice of turning into an unregulated wilderness, home to people who abandon any civility imposed by society. It is essential to construct moral and political norms for people to co-exist in society.

Musk has undone years of work that tried to make the platform safer and more reliable. As the new C.E.O. of Twitter, he had significant control over its policies.  However, the final termination of his tenure in office turned out to be democratic and fair to Twitter users. The real question is whether this decision will result in a temporary lull while waiting for the next CEO or whether it will contribute to the rise in user-to-user tension and hate.


India’s Censorship

In the summer of 2021, NPR ran an article that discussed how Twitter referred to the May 24th raid on its New Delhi office as

Read More »

%d bloggers like this: