This newest development serves as further proof of why it’s difficult to take Elon Musk’s assessment of Twitter’s performance as an accurate measure of what’s really happening in the app. Earlier this month, at the Morgan Stanley TMT conference, Musk provided an overview of how Twitter’s currently doing, which included a range of stats and other metrics, along with a specific chart that highlighted a regression in the prevalence of hate speech on the app, post-acquisition.
What’s with All the Hate?
That would align with Musk’s public statement about tackling problematic elements in the app, including hate speech and CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material) content. However, experts have raised questions about the truth of his statements, and how Musk and his team are really measuring them, given that external analyses suggest otherwise.
This has once again come under scrutiny, this time with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) recently finding that incidents of anti-Semitic speech in the app have risen sharply since Musk took over. True enough, according to the ISD’s analysis, the volume of anti-Semitic hate speech on Twitter has remained rather static since Musk assumed control, indicating that, contrary to Twitter’s data, hate speech is actually significantly up on the platform.
It does make some sense. Some. Musk has overseen the reinstatement of over 60,000 previously banned Twitter accounts, many for gate speech violations. The analysis also suggests that many of these accounts have resumed their previous Tweeting habits, which are nothing short of deplorable.
Within that context, it seems logical that hate speech could only increase – yet Musk and Co. have repeatedly claimed that they’re doing more to combat negative elements than the company has ever done before, which has won many supporters in the process, particularly with regards to CSAM cases. Late last year, different CSAM campaigners praised Musk for ‘ridding Twitter of child pornography and child trafficking Hashtags’, which, at least on the surface, appears to have had an impact on halting CSAMs entirely in the app. Twitter also shared this ‘victorious’ chart on its CSAM performance.
Again, on balance, it does seem possible that Twitter could be improving its performance in these critical areas at the rates that it’s claiming. However, it’s hard to know exactly what’s happening, because what Musk and his team are reporting is different from what external analysts suggest. What’s safe to assume, at least at this moment, is that Twitter 2.0 is nowhere near as amazing as Musk and his peeps claim and that these remain significant and pressing issues, which will continue to be key areas that require focus. Hopefully, Twitter continues to refine and improve its processes, finding new ways to tackle and eliminate hate speech. It’s an ever-evolving issue, so Twitter has a lot to catch up with.