Elon Musk says Twitter hate speech claims are ‘lies’ in rare, rambling interview

Twitter boss Elon Musk wears a red and black armour like outfit as he stands in front of a light blue and yellow background

Elon Musk dismissed claims of rising hate speech and misinformation on Twitter in a bizarre BBC interview where he joked his dog is the boss of the social media platform.

The multi-billionaire sat down for an interview with the BBC to defend how he’s been running Twitter since his takeover in October 2022. Musk said owning the social network has been “​​quite painful” and a bit of a “rollercoaster”.

BBC journalist James Clayton challenged Musk about the myriad of reports noting an increase in hate speech on Twitter as well as the tech boss’ decision to reinstate the accounts of multiple users suspended from the site for spreading hateful content. 

Clayton questioned if Musk prioritised freedom of speech over tackling misinformation and hate speech, to which Musk asked: “Who’s to say something is misinformation?”

Twitter boss Elon Musk wears a suit and tie as he looks somewhere off camera
Elon Musk challenged a BBC journalist on the definition of hate speech and misinformation in a bizarre interview. (Getty)

Musk claimed his efforts to delete bots, automated accounts, will decrease misinformation on the platform. He alleged, in his experience, there’s “less misinformation” on Twitter since the takeover “rather than more”. 

When challenged by Clayton about an increase in hate speech since the Tesla boss took over, an agitated Musk challenged the reporter for evidence. 

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He insisted that he hadn’t personally experienced any hate speech on the platform, but Clayton said he’d gotten more of “that kind of content” appear on his Twitter feed lately. Clayton described seeing stuff on the site that was “slightly racist or slightly sexist”.

“So you think if something is slightly sexist, it should be banned?” Musk asked.

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“I’m just curious. I’m trying to understand what you mean by hateful content. I’m asking for specific examples …

“You can’t even name a single example, you just lied.”

Despite Elon Musk’s claims, several reports have found hate speech and content skyrocketed since his takeover. 

A Media Matters and GLAAD report, which analysed the tweets of nine prominent right-wing figures and accounts, found retweets of posts containing the word “groomer” saw a 1,200 per cent increase since Elon Musk’s takeover of the site. 

The Center for Countering Digital Hate, along with the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, found that anti-LGBTQ+ remarks have risen by at least 1,458 times a day since Musk’s takeover. 

In spite of this evidence and outcry from LGBTQ+ people, Musk insisted that hate speech impressions were “down by a third from pre-spike levels” in a 24 November tweet showcasing a graph from a Twitter presentation.

But Twitter users alleged that the billionaire simply changed the definition of “hate speech” to give the impression that the site was tackling it. 

Elon Musk promised he would resign as Twitter’s chief executive when he finds someone “foolish enough to take the job”. The decision came after he promised to abide by the result of a Twitter poll which saw a massive amount of users vote ‘yes’ to him quitting the role. 

In the BBC interview, Musk bizarrely claimed he wasn’t the CEO anymore because his dog has “taken over”, rehashing a lame joke he made on Twitter months ago. 

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