Twitter has been Elon Musk’s company for less than 24 hours, and verified “blue-check” users on the platform, including journalists, expressed fear and loathing over the ownership.
Taylor Lorenz, a technology columnist for the Washington Post and former New York Times reporter, tweeted that it seemed like “the gates of hell opened on this site” the night Musk’s deal closed.
She told a user she was “getting more rape threats” that night than she had under Twitter’s previous leadership. But when another reporter expressed concern, she said she’d made proper use of a feature to mute harassment, so the people threatening her were “screaming into the void.”
Musk, who has criticized Twitter’s moderation policies as heavy-handed and politically biased, completed his $44 billion takeover of the company yesterday, firing several top leaders, including an attorney described as the social media site’s “chief censor.”
Some have feared that loosened speech rules under Musk will foster harassment and hate, while others hoped it would level the playing field for views across the political spectrum.
Musk recently seemed to temper his free speech absolutism in a message to advertisers promising Twitter wouldn’t “become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”
Still, Sirius XM radio host Dean Obeidallah said Musk “100% will” silence progressives on the platform and boost right-wing tweets “because he thinks it’s good for business. He wants MAGA and other white supremacist scum back on the platform.”
Christopher Bouzy, developer of a platform that tracks Twitter bots, said he was “already exhausted” and posted images of users testing Musk’s boundaries by tweeting racial slurs, previously-censored claims about the COVID-19 vaccine and more.
Left-wing media outlet Occupy Democrats tweeted that the “right-wing billionaire” Musk would ensure Twitter became a “hellscape” by letting “racist trolls, Nazis, and Donald Trump” onto the platform.
Tribel, a social network created by Occupy Democrats co-founder Omar Rivero, tried to ride the news cycle. The service called Musk the “MAGA Twitter owner” in an attempt to win some converts to its “pro-democracy Twitter alternative.”
But Tribel itself is no stranger to toxic and crude language, according to the Daily Beast.