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Elon Musk Twitter Takeover: Tweets With Racial Slurs Soared Despite Assurances, Researchers Say

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Instances of racial slurs have soared on Twitter since Elon Musk purchased the influential platform, despite assurances from the platform that it had reduced hateful activity, a digital civil rights group reported Thursday.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that the number of tweets containing one of several different racial slurs soared in the week after Musk bought Twitter.

A racial epithet used to attack Black people was found more than 26,000 times, three times the average for 2022. Use of a slur that targets trans people increased 53 percent, while instances of an offensive term for homosexual men went up 39 percent over the yearly average.

Examples of offensive terms used to target Jews and Hispanics also increased.

All told, the researchers looked at nearly 80,000 English-language tweets and retweets from around the world that contained one of the offensive terms they searched for.

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“The figures show that despite claims from Twitter’s Head of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth, that the platform had succeeded in reducing the number of times hate speech was being seen on Twitter’s search and trending page, the actual volume of hateful tweets has spiked,” according to the analysis from the center, a nonprofit with offices in the US and United Kingdom.

Roth resigned Thursday, joining the large number of Twitter employees who have either resigned from Twitter or been laid off since Musk took control.

A day before, Roth acknowledged the recent increase in hate speech on the site but said the platform had made significant progress in bringing the numbers down.

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“We’ve put a stop to the spike in hateful conduct, but that the level of hateful activity on the service is now about 95 percent lower than it was before the acquisition,” Roth said in remarks broadcast live on Twitter. “Changes that we’ve made and the proactive enforcement that we carried out are making Twitter safer relative to where it was before.”

An executive confirmed Roth’s resignation to coworkers on an internal messaging board seen by The Associated Press on Thursday.

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On October 31, Twitter announced that 1,500 accounts had been removed for posting hate speech. The company also said it had greatly reduced the visibility of posts containing slurs, making them harder to find on the platform.

“We have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline (asterisk)below(asterisk) our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press,” Musk tweeted last week.

Musk has described himself as a free speech absolutist, and he is widely expected to revamp Twitter’s content moderation policies. While he said no changes have been made so far, Musk has made significant layoffs at the company, raising questions about its ability to police misinformation and hate speech before Tuesday’s midterm election.

It may take some time to accurately assess the platform’s performance in the election and to determine whether Twitter has adopted a different strategy for content that violates its policies, said Renee DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

“The civic integrity policy was unchanged,” DiResta said of Twitter under its new ownership. “Now, there is a difference between having a policy and enforcing a policy.”

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Shortly after Musk purchased Twitter, some users posted hate speech, seemingly to test the boundaries of the platform under its new owner.

See also  Elon Musk Said to Become Temporary Twitter CEO After Takeover

Within just 12 hours of Musk’s purchase being finalised, references to a specific racist epithet used to demean Black people shot up by 500 percent, according to an analysis conducted by the Network Contagion Research Institute, a Princeton, New Jersey-based firm that tracks disinformation.

Twitter did not immediately respond Thursday to messages seeking comment on the findings of the new report.


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What Are WhatsApp Polls and How Do You Use Them? All You Need to Know

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WhatsApp’s new features and updates which have rolled out over the past few months have made the messaging experience much better. Now, WhatsApp users can even create polls in personal and group chats to see what their friends and contacts think. Both iOS and Android users can use this feature. A poll could help take the opinions of group members on any topic or idea, or could be useful for making plans quickly. Just like your chats, the responses you send to a poll question will be protected by end-to-end encryption. At the moment, Telegram and Facebook Messenger allow group polls. You can easily start using this new WhatsApp feature on your smartphone.

Here is How to Create a WhatsApp Poll

Step 1: Update WhatsApp to the latest version

Step 2: Open the private or group chat in which you want to create a poll

Step 3: For Android, tap on the paper clip icon at the bottom of the screen. For iOS, select the plus (+) icon at the bottom of the screen.

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Step 4: Select ‘Poll’

Step 5: Type the question you want to ask, along with response options

Step 6: Finally, tap on ‘Send’ to share the poll

Up to twelve response options can be offered to recipients for each poll, and these are not time-bound. Users can also see the responses selected by others by tapping on ‘View votes’.

The Meta-owned messaging app has recently worked on several updates, rolling out new tools including the Call Link feature, the ability to message yourself, and Companion Mode. While some of these new features are not available to all users at the moment, WhatsApp does plan to make them accessible to everyone in the coming days. The most recent and talked-about feature apart from WhatsApp polls is Communities. These allow users to have separate groups under one “Community” to organize large conversations.

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“With Communities, we’re aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else. The alternatives available today require trusting apps or software companies with a copy of their messages – and we think they deserve the higher level of security provided by end-to-end encryption,” stated WhatsApp in a blog post.

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Elon Musk Calls Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban ‘Grave Mistake’, Condemns Violence

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Twitter’s ban on then President Donald Trump after January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was a “grave mistake” that had to be corrected, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Friday, although he also stated that incitement to violence would continue to be prohibited on Twitter.

“I’m fine with Trump not tweeting. The important thing is that Twitter correct a grave mistake in banning his account, despite no violation of the law or terms of service,” Musk said in a tweet. “Deplatforming a sitting President undermined public trust in Twitter for half of America.”

Last week, Musk announced the reactivation of Trump’s account after a slim majority voted in a Twitter poll in favor of reinstating Trump, who said, however, that he had no interest in returning to Twitter. He added he would stick with his own social media site Truth Social, the app developed by Trump Media & Technology Group.

Republican Trump, who 10 days ago announced he was running for election again in 2024, was banned on January 8, 2021, from Twitter under its previous owners.

At the time, Twitter said it permanently suspended him because of the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the Capitol. The results of the November 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden were being certified by lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked after weeks of false claims by Trump that he had won.

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Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other sites to falsely claim there had been widespread voter fraud, and had urged supporters to march on the Capitol in Washington to protest.

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The attack is being investigated by US prosecutors and a congressional committee.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday on Musk’s statement that Trump did not violate any Twitter terms of service when his account was suspended.

Earlier on Friday, Musk tweeted that calling for violence or incitement to violence on Twitter would result in suspension, after saying on Thursday that Twitter would provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that had not broken the law or engaged in spam.

Replying to a tweet, Musk said it was “very concerning” that Twitter had taken no action earlier to remove some accounts related to the far-left Antifa movement. In response to another tweet asking if Musk considered the statement “trans people deserve to die” as worthy of suspension from the platform, the billionaire said: “Absolutely”.

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Change and chaos have marked Musk’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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WhatsApp Reportedly Testing Voice Status Update for iOS Beta: All Details

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WhatsApp, the Meta-owned instant messaging app, is reportedly working on a feature that will let iOS users share voice notes in their status updates. As of now, the users can only share pictures, videos and links in their WhatsApp status. However, once the new feature will be rolled out, WhatsApp users on iOS will be reportedly able to share voice notes or voice clips as well in their status updates on the app. According to the report, the messaging platform is testing the feature on iOS Beta for an upcoming update.

According to a report by WhatsApp development tracker WABetaInfo, WhatsApp users on iOS will be able to share a voice note of up to 30 seconds alongside text in their status updates, similar to what they can currently do in a WhatsApp chat.

The report has also shared a screengrab of the same, hinting at the upcoming feature, which shows a microphone icon on the bottom of the text status.

WhatsApp on iOS users will be required to click on the microphone icon and record their voice to upload it as their status update. They can even add text to it, if needed. It is worth noting that the voice status updates will only be shared with the people selected in the privacy settings. Also, these voice notes will always be end-to-end encrypted.

Not only iOS, but this ability is said to be also being tested in WhatsApp beta for Android’s upcoming update. As of now, this feature is still under development, so it would be very early to say anything.

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Meanwhile, WhatsApp recently rolled out WhatsApp Polls to users on both Android and iOS. The Polls feature was introduced alongside ‘Communities’, a feature that allows users to have separate groups under one umbrella to organise group conversations. WhatsApp Polls lets users create polls within the group with the ability to vote. Facebook Messenger and Telegram currently allow users to add group polls. WhatsApp’s poll feature will be protected by end-to-end encryption.

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