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Understanding Antisemitism on Twitter After Musk

New research from CASM Technology and ISD has found a major and sustained spike in antisemitic posts on Twitter since the company’s takeover by Elon Musk on October 27, 2022. Powered by the award-winning digital analysis technology Beam – and based on a powerful hate speech detection methodology combining over twenty leading machine-learning models – researchers found that the volume of English-language antisemitic tweets more than doubled in the period following Musk’s takeover. In total, analysts detected 325,739 English-language antisemitic tweets in the 9 months from June 2022 to February 2023, with the weekly average number of antisemitic tweets increasing by 106% (from 6,204 to 12,762), when comparing the three months before and after Musk’s acquisition. Whilst preliminary studies conducted immediately after the takeover pointed to spikes in specific hateful slurs, this research moves beyond keyword-based analysis to demonstrate the broader and longer-term impact that platforms deprioritising content moderation can have on the spread of online hate. Our approach draws on a suite of natural language processing classifiers trained to identify antisemitic content in line with the IHRA definition, allowing us to identify messages at scale which can plausibly be categorized as hate speech.

The key findings from the research include:

  • The volume of antisemitic tweets more than doubled in the three-month period after Musk’s takeover, compared to the period before.
  • The rate of creation of antisemitic accounts more than tripled in the period after Musk’s takeover.
  • The proportion of antisemitic content removed by Twitter appears to have increased in the period since the takeover, with 12% of antisemitic tweets subsequently unavailable for collection, compared to 6% before the takeover. However this potential increase in removal rate has not kept pace with the increase in overall antisemitic content, with the result that hate speech remains more accessible on the platform than before Musk’s acquisition.[1]
  • Despite Musk’s promises to ‘max-deboost and demonetize’ hateful content, engagement with antisemitic content on Twitter remained steady.”
  • See also Pew – Anti-Jewish harassment occurred in 94 countries in 2020, up from earlier years
  • See also JTA – From Neo-Nazi propaganda campaigns to attacks against Orthodox Jews to threats directed at synagogues, the number of antisemitic incidents in the United States saw a dramatic increase in 2022, according to an annual audit published by the Anti-Defamation League. 
  • See also Washington Post – Swastikas and conspiracies: K-12 antisemitic incidents surge, ADL says

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