Toni Braxton and LeBron James are concerned about the exploitation of free speech on Twitter under new owner Elon Musk. With $44 billion, the Tesla founder bought the social media platform that rivals with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. He tweeted, “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
But since Musk’s takeover, there’s been a shocking revelation in the use of racial slurs on Twitter. Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) conducted a study showing the use of the N-word escalated by 500 percent nearly hours after the deal was finalized on Thursday, Oct. 27. To put things in perspective, a single racial slur in all capital letters was retweeted more than 700 times and liked more than 5,000 times. That same day, Musk tweeted, “The bird is freed.”
By Friday, trolling accounts tweeted the N-Word as well as other statements about anti-LGBTQ. The rampant use of the racist and derogatory statements on Twitter being deemed as free speech is beyond overwhelming for the black community.
In response to the news, Braxton has decided to step away from the social app she joined in December 2008. The mother of two feels it’s no longer a safe place for herself, her sons and other people of color.
“I’m shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition,” she tweeted. “Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.”
Outside of artists and entertainers, influential athletes are also apprehensive about Musk owning Twitter. On Saturday, Oct. 29, LeBron James shared his observation of what’s taking place on Twitter.
“I don’t know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns Twitter,” wrote James. “But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
James and Braxton are among the many concerned individuals about Musk’s ownership. In an article by The Washington Post, The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group, discussed the responsibility Twitter has to the world.
“Twitter has a right, and a responsibility, to keep its platform from being exploited to fuel a dangerous media environment,” said the group. “This isn’t about censorship or discrimination of ideas — it is about what kind of company they want to be and what kind of world they want to shape.”
In regard to the racist rhetoric spewed on Twitter, some fear content and hate speech on the social network may go unchecked. Others fear it may lead to more online abuse. Alex Goldenberg, NCRI’s lead intelligence analyst, believes these statements on forums like 4chan, could present a bigger issue. He claims these groups planned “to make as big a mess as possible for Twitter’s new management.”
He pointed out that anonymous trolls were now testing the limits of Musk’s new policies, which have yet to be implemented.
“To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies,” Musk tweeted later.
Many also expressed concern about misinformation being shared online, and the possibility of Musk reinstating online Donald Trump’s Twitter account, as he stated.