Twitter: Elon Musk’s worrying right-wing drift


Last year, Elon Musk justified his decision to buy Twitter by his desire to defend freedom of expression . He ured, in a tweet , that he had remained centrist,…

Twitter: Elon Musk’s worrying right-wing drift

Twitter: Elon Musk’s worrying right-wing drift

Last year, Elon Musk justified his decision to buy Twitter by his desire to defend freedom of expression . He ured, in a tweet , that he had remained centrist, while affirming that the American left was becoming radicalized. A year later, the billionaire is more and more openly professing his support for the toughest branch of the American right.

It is no coincidence that Ron DeSantis , the very conservative governor of Florida, has chosen his platform to announce his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Elon Musk welcomed him with open arms on Twitter, presenting the social network as a refuge for American conservatives persecuted by the “woke” left.

On May 9, it was the star presenter of the American right, Tucker-Carlson , which announced on Twitter its intention to launch its daily show on the social network. He had been fired a few days earlier by Fox News, a chain which is not however known for its progressivism, because of repeated slippages which scared away advertisers.

Right turn

In November, the billionaire supported Republican candidates in the legislative elections, calling for a “mive red wave in 2022”. The billionaire’s conversion to Republican ideas is relatively recent. He thus claims to have voted for Joe Biden and not for Donald Trump in the last presidential elections. But he now considers the Democrats to be the “party of division and hatred”.

Shortly after his takeover of Twitter, the billionaire unveiled documents he called the “Twitter Files.” According to him, the platform, before its acquisition, censored certain content favorable to Republicans. The reality is more nuanced. According to experts, the documents show above all that it is sometimes difficult to moderate a social network as vast, contrasting and changing as Twitter.

Reinstate Banned Accounts

Shortly after his takeover, Elon Musk decides to restore certain accounts banned from the platform, including that of donald trump . The former president, who used Twitter as a springboard in his conquest of power, was nevertheless accused of having incited his fans to be violent during the attack on the Capitol in January 2020.

That’s not all. It also restores the accounts of Marjorie Taylor Greene, suspended for spreading Covid misinformation, of Project Veritas, a group of far-right American activists, of Andrew Tate, an influencer prosecuted for and drug trafficking. human beings, or Jordan Peterson and the Babylon Bee, banned for haring trans people.

hate online

These decisions have an impact on the social network. Since the acquisition, anti-Semitic tweets have been twice as frequent, according to a study by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). The researchers, who use a machine learning model to identify hateful tweets, find that the number of new accounts posting anti-Semitic messages has jumped since the acquisition, and that these messages remain at a higher level than before.

This confirms the results of a first study by the Center Against Online Hate. Published in December, the latter already showed that racist, phobic and anti-Semitic tweets had spread on Twitter after its takeover by the billionaire. Elon Musk denies, meanwhile, that hate messages have increased since the takeover of the platform. It also promises to better fight against their dissemination.

Support for the far right

But the billionaire’s actions tend to encourage the worst trolls on the social network. Just two days after taking over the platform, the Twitter boss released an unfounded conspiracy theory about the attack on the husband of Nancy Pelosi, a central figure in the Democratic Party. The latter almost lost his life after being attacked with a hammer at his home by a man linked to the far right.

On the platform, the billionaire continues to interact with far-right accounts, which amplifies their visibility on the platform. The ISD has identified the interactions between the billionaire and this type of account. The think tank shows that the billionaire spoke with several users denying the results of the 2020 presidential election, as well as with Libs of TikTok, an account which incites the harment of trans people.

“Interactions between Elon Musk and far-right users have increased by a staggering 1.690% since October 27, from 1.1% of his total interactions to nearly 20%,” the experts note. “By engaging with these accounts, Musk is sending the message […] that these ideas are acceptable on the platform, which arguably invites even more hate on Twitter. »

Sometimes the billionaire broadcasts these ideas directly. On May 17, he tweeted, for example, that George Soros “hates humanity. The Hungarian-born billionaire is regularly the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The reason for Elon Musk’s anger? The financier’s fund has sold 130,000 Tesla shares in recent months.

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