This Thursday, (Oct. 27) Elon Musk finally closed the $44 billion dollar deal on Twitter. That same night, Musk tweeted a message that now feels ominous. “The bird is finally free,” it reads. Musk’s tweet is of course in reference to what the Tesla CEO initially cited as censorship concerns about the platform, and one of his main reasons for wanting to make the purchase to begin with. But since his takeover, there have been more than just virtual flips of the bird being let loose.
Just 12 hours after the acquisition, a report from the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) found that the use of the N-word “has increased over 500 percent from the previous average,” according to the Washington Post. The NCRI also found a host of anonymous accounts seemingly looking to “test the limits” as users on 4chan encourage others to spew hatred in the name of free speech.
“I can freely express how much I hate n*****s … now, thank you elon,” one anonymous user tweeted, according to The Post. Another tweet in part reads, “Elon now controls twitter. Unleash the racial slurs. K***S AND N*****S.”
But Black Twitter is not sitting around idly. There has been a swift protest of the abuse of the platform in the wake of Musk’s purchase.
“It’s really telling to see how many people want lies, racism, homophobia, and bigotry to be a part of their daily Twitter feed now that Elon has taken over,” actress-activist Malynda Hale tweeted. “I can’t imagine having people view me as the catalyst for their hate. That, sadly, says a lot about who Elon is.”
And while the many voices of Black Twitter unite to amplify the message that hate speech and racist remarks on the site should not be tolerated, one famous user in particular is using his platform to call out Musk directly.
Lebron James tweeted over the weekend: “I dont know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF.”
He later added: “So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
Elon Musk, who calls himself a “free speech abolitionist” has yet to respond to the reports, but we are somewhat unhopeful that a positive change is underfoot.