Elon frantically gagging critics who reveal rise in hate on Twitter

The passing of the cute blue bird and its replacement by the dark sinister black X logo is in so many ways symbolic of what Twitter has become. There exists an opinion within many minds that twitter has become a bit of a cesspit, but we need not rely upon just opinion. Non-profit Watch groups such as CCDH (Center for Countering Digital Hate) has been ringing that alarm for some time, not on the basis of opinion, but rather on actual measurements.

In response to them expressing deep concern, Elon has not only called CCDH  “truly evil” and labelled its CEO as a “rat”, but has now deployed a lawsuit that blames them for his financial woes.

The Timeline

CCDH kept a diary and a record of all the receipts.

The following comes directly from CCDH …

27 October 2022Elon Musk takes over Twitter.
28 OctoberCCDH joins other leading organizations in warning that Musk’s plans for Twitter could cause a surge in hate on the platform.
1 NovemberCCDH joins a coalition of 60 groups calling on Twitter’s top advertisers to demand that Elon Musk keep his promises on hate and brand safety.
4 NovemberElon Musk claims that hate speech is declining on Twitter
10 NovemberCCDH uses independent tools to demonstrate that the volume of hate speech on Twitter had actually increased significantly.
18 NovemberMusk claims that hate speech will be “max deboosted & demonetized”
2 DecemberThe New York Times publishes a front page article about surging hate speech on Twitter prominently featuring CCDH’s research.
2 DecemberCCDH analysis shows “climate scam” tweets have surged under Musk.
5 DecemberWhite House press secretary refers to “rising volume” of hate on Twitter.
6 DecemberSenator Durbin urges Twitter to act on antisemitism, citing CCDH.
8 DecemberMembers of Congress write to Twitter urging action on hate speech, citing CCDH.
8 DecemberMembers of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council resign citing CCDH.
12 DecemberMusk relaunches “Twitter Blue” offering paid subscribers blue ticks.
18 DecemberMusk personally attacks Rep. Schiff, author of a letter to Twitter citing CCDH research on hate speech, tweeting “his brain is too small”.
23 DecemberCCDH analyzes popular tweets from Twitter Blue subscribers about Ukraine, climate and vaccines, showing 27% are disinformation.
25 JanuaryHateAid launches lawsuit against Twitter in Germany over antisemitism citing CCDH.
9 FebruaryCCDH research reveals that Elon Musk’s decision to reinstate just ten accounts banned for hate and disinformation could make him $19m
9 FebruaryThe Stop Toxic Twitter coalition urges advertisers to withdraw from Twitter citing CCDH evidence of ads being displayed next to hateful content.
17 AprilCCDH analysis shows climate deniers are growing rapidly under Musk.
18 MarchElon Musk announces Twitter Blue accounts will be boosted in replies.
28 MarchCCDH demonstrates anti-LGBTQ+ “grooming” tweets have doubled.
28 MarchCongressmen urge Twitter to act on anti-LGBTQ+ content, citing CCDH.
31 MayCCDH research showing Twitter failed to act on 99 of 100 hateful tweets from Blue subscribers. The Daily Beast’s tweet with the research reaches 3 million views on Twitter.
5 JuneMusk complains that “various nonprofits who influence the advertisers” are “basically cutting their revenue in half”.
22 JuneAustralia’s eSafety Commissioner urges Twitter to act on rising hate speech, citing a surge in complaints and CCDH’s research.
15 JulyElon Musk tweets that Twitter’s advertising revenue has dropped by 50%
18 JulyElon Musk tweets describing CCDH as “truly evil” and its CEO as a “rat”.
19 JulyMark Ruffalo criticizes Musk’s attacks on CCDH, defending our work.
19 JulyCCDH research is quoted in a Bloomberg article, republished by Time, as evidence that surging hate on Twitter is causing advertisers to withdraw.
19 JulyTwitter CEO Linda Yaccarino claims the article is untrue without basis.
20 JulyElon Musk instructs his staff to demand a meeting with the chair of CCDH’s board, and instructs lawyers to send a legal threat to CCDH.

OK, so let’s dig a bit here. Exactly what research has CCDH done and what has it revealed?

CCDH Reports

Here are some examples.

In March 28th, 2023, CCDH published a report titled “Toxic Twitter”

The report highlights how the LGBTQ+ community have become a target of abuse that is focused of the false claim that they “groom children”.

They identify, by name, five Twitter accounts that drive this “grooming” narrative and are responsible for about $6.4m of Twitter’s ad revenue. The report takes you through their methodology, the tools they used and how they were used, and also identifies the brands that are being promoted within the traffic generated by these five. They illustrate it with actual examples for each of the five.

In June 01, 2023, CCDH published a report titled “Twitter fails to rein in Toxicity among Twitter Blue users”

It highlights how those that subscribe can post hate speech without consequence. In 99% of the instances tracked and reported, Twitter did nothing.

The report identifies 100 Twitter Blue Subscribers that tweeted hate speech. The offending tweets were reported using the standard Twitter tools. The result was that Twitter failed to act on 99% of the posts and 100% of the accounts remained active.

The examples of hate speech concerned tweets containing racism, homophobia, neo-Nazi, and antisemitic stuff. They were all examples of tweets that clearly violated the Twitter policies against hate speech, a policy that supposedly bans abuse on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender.

One other key insight is that Blue Subscribers not only get away with such hate speech, but also that Twitter uses algorithms to amplify it all.

Quote …

“The Twitter blue tick used to be a sign of authority and authenticity, but it is now inextricably linked to the promotion of hate and conspiracism. What gives blue tick hate actors confidence to spew their bile is the knowledge that Elon Musk simply doesn’t care about the civil and human rights of black people, Jews, Muslims and LGBTQ+ people, as long as he can make his 8 bucks a month.”

Imran Ahmed, CEO for CCDH

It is not just those two reports

Here is a further summary of what Elon has “accomplished” at twitter. CCDH analysis is …

  • Proving the volume of tweets containing slurs have risen by up to 202%
  • Showing that tweets linking LGBTQ+ people to “grooming” have more than doubled
  • Demonstrating that climate denial content and accounts are surging
  • Challenging Twitter for making up to $19m from ads on content from toxic accounts
  • Showing that paid-for verification is helping spread disinformation
  • Revealing Twitter’s failure to act on hate posted by Twitter Blue subscribers

Elon’s response: Shoot the messenger

Elon got his New York based legal guys to send CCDH a snot-o-gram (full original copy can be found here).

So CCDH responded legally, with a letter from their New Your based lawyers (full original copy can be found here).

In response, X then formally filed a lawsuit seeking damages on 31st July. You can find that filing here.

The essence of the lawsuit is the claim that 16 advertisers had stopped spending on Twitter after reading the reports by CCDH, and that this had cost them millions.

CCDH, a non-profit, are now crowdsourcing funds to fight this rather blatant attempt to gag the messenger.

What happens now?

Via here we have a few interesting insights …

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, says the case could take “months and even years” to resolve….

Experts are sceptical about the complaint’s claims. Lou Paskalis, founder of advertising consultancy AJL Advisory, says the research is not a major cause of X’s problems (carmaker Audi and pharmaceutical firm Pfizer are among the companies that have boycotted the platform since Musk bought it).

“I believe advertisers long ago decided that Twitter was not a safe place for their advertising investments, strictly because of the antics of Elon Musk,” he says, adding that CCDH research is “just another data point” in a “very long list of data points” that are pushing advertisers away.

As for CCDH, their CEO states that they will raise the money needed to fight the case and also advises that … “My job as CEO is to ensure that we are continuing to do our work,” and so they will continue to hold “Twitter’s feet to the fire”.

Meanwhile, Twitter Really is now a Shit show – this is literally their business model

In a past unenlightened time people would visit Bedlam to go and gawk at the insane patients just for amusement and entertainment.

Inspired by this, Elon appears to have created a business model that creates an on-line version of this. For $8 per month anybody can now sign up, and if they are provocative enough to generate lots of traffic, then they will be rewarded with a cut of the advertising revenue that they manage to generate.

This literally motivates many complete and total lunatics to tweet the weirdest, most offensive and obnoxious stuff that they can possibly dream up. With their blue ticks comes an assurance that not only will their stream of absurd consciousness be promoted by the algorithms, but they will also be given more or less free rein and complete impunity from the consequences of anything they tweet.

If you are still on twitter then this is most probably not news for you. You will have most probably encountered lots of very provocative stuff coming from the blue-tick brigade. It may indeed be tempting to engage and put them right, but honestly, by doing so all you are doing is lining their pockets with silver, so they quite frankly don’t care. Sincerity and authenticity of conversation is dead, it is all rapidly evolving into a charade designed to provoke you to respond.

Welcome to the new Bedlam.

My advice, don’t engage the trolls, just roll your eyes, move on, and never forget that the block button is your best friend (while it still remains).

So yes, the aspirational Mars overlord also wants to block your ability to use block, oh and let’s not forget, after firing the folks who kept it ticking over, X is also slowly falling apart.

After spending $44 billion, what we are all now watching in real-time is a guaranteed way to make a small fortune – the secret is to start with a large fortune.

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