Anti-LGBTQ ‘Groomer’ Slur on Twitter Surges Under Musk’s Ownership, Report Finds

Company on Monday disbanded its third-party Trust and Safety Council advisory group

ANKARA, TURKIYE - OCTOBER 06: In this photo illustration, the image of Elon Musk is displayed on a computer screen and the logo of twitter on a mobile phone in Ankara, Turkiye on October 06, 2022. Muhammed Selim Korkutata / Anadolu Agency
Anadolu Agency

Twitter, since it was taken over by self-described “free-speech absolutist” Elon Musk, has seen a dramatic rise in the use of the anti-gay slur “groomer” among a cluster of high-profile anti-LGBTQ accounts, according to a new report.

According to a study by Media Matters and GLAAD released Tuesday, nine prominent anti-LGBTQ accounts had an over 1,200% increase in Twitter users’ retweets of the accounts’ tweets with the “groomer” slur in the one-month period after Musk’s Oct. 27 takeover compared with the month prior.

The accounts also showed an increase of more than 1,100% in mentions of the right-wing media accounts in tweets with the slur. The accounts analyzed in the study are: Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, Jake Shield, Gays Against Groomers, Blaire White, Allie Beth Stuckey, Andy Ngo, Seth Dillon and Mike Cernovich. In addition, the Libs of TikTok account saw more than a 600% increase in its mentions with “groomer” language, going from nearly 2,000 to nearly 14,000 over the same timeframe.

“Throughout 2022, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has contributed to real-world harm as extremists protested at Pride events, shut down community LGBTQ events, and have even targeted hospitals that provide trans-affirming healthcare,” Kayla Gogarty, Media Matters deputy research director and author of the study, said in a statement. “With Musk singlehandedly making content moderation changes on Twitter, we have witnessed an increase of anti-LGBTQ hate on the platform, which will further contribute to real-world harm for LGBTQ people.”

Separately, Twitter on Monday disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group of about 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations formed in 2016 to address hate speech and other problematic material on the social network. Alex Holmes, deputy CEO of the Diana Award and a member of the Gates Foundation — who was a member of the Twitter Trust and Safety Council — criticized the company’s dissolution of the group, and wrote in a tweet, “Over past week several members of council have had their personal safety and well-being impacted by the actions of Twitter staff.”

On Sunday, Musk called for prosecution of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and simultaneously mocked the use of alternate pronouns. “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” Musk tweeted. Later that day, Musk unexpectedly showed up at Dave Chappelle’s stand-up gig in San Francisco, where he was roundly booed by the crowd.

Musk has disputed independent researchers’ findings that hate speech has increased on Twitter since he took over the company in late October. According to studies by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, anti-Black slurs on Twitter doubled from an average of 1,282 per day prior to the billionaire’s takeover to 3,876 times per day; slurs against gay men rose from 2,506 per day on average to 3,964 per day; and antisemitic tweets increased more than 61%.

According to Musk, hate speech impressions on Twitter are actually down by one-third since he took control of the company.

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