By Rashawn Ray, Joy Anyanwu
“The bird is freed,” tweeted Elon Musk on October 27, 2022, as a celebratory endnote to his acquisition of Twitter. However, this begs the question, free for which type of birds? By show of his previous political statements, current missteps, and future plans for the platform, this so-called freedom may simply galvanize extremists and further expose racial and religious minorities to hate speech and trauma. Twitter is now a major platform for proponents of hate speech.
Twitter saw a nearly 500% increase in use of the N-word in the 12-hour window immediately following the shift of ownership to Musk. Within the following week, tweets including the word “Jew” had increased fivefold since before the ownership transfer. Tweets with the most engagement were overly antisemitic. Likewise, there has also been an uptick in misogynistic and transphobic language. This surge in hateful language has been accredited to various trolling campaigns on sites like 4chan and the pro-Trump forum “The Donald.”
In response to these reports, Yoel Roth (former Head of Safety and Integrity at Twitter) posted a thread detailing that the majority of this derogatory language is coming from about 300…