Elon Musk's first year at Twitter "hugely damaging" amid concerns over harmful content

San Francisco, California - Elon Musk's first year in charge of social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, "couldn't have gone any worse" and has been "hugely damaging," industry experts have said.

October 27 marks the first anniversary of the billionaire's $44 billion takeover of the social media giant.
October 27 marks the first anniversary of the billionaire's $44 billion takeover of the social media giant.  © STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP

October 27 marks the first anniversary of the billionaire's $44 billion takeover of the social media giant.

Since then, Musk has laid off more than half the company's staff and changed its name. He has also been embroiled in a string of controversies over content moderation, his belief in absolute free speech, and the reinstating of accounts that had been banned for breaching site rules on hate speech.

The platform has also been dogged by outage and performance issues and has come under scrutiny from regulators around the world over the site's problem with harmful content.

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According to figures from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), hate speech has surged on the platform since Musk's takeover.

Research from the group published in September showed that 86% of 300 hateful posts reported to X moderators were still online a week after they were flagged, despite some containing what the CCDH called content "glorifying antisemitism, anti-Black racism, neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and other racism."

Social media experts say Elon Musk has made X "worse"

Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter, now known as X, has been criticized heavily by industry experts.
Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter, now known as X, has been criticized heavily by industry experts.  © Chris Delmas / AFP

When asked about Musk's year at the firm, social media commentator Drew Benvie, founder and chief executive of communications agency Battenhall, said he "couldn't imagine it going any worse."

He said that although there had already been a shift in how people were using social media because of the rise of misinformation in recent years, Musk's changes to X since his takeover had "made it worse."

In particular, he highlighted the decision to change the site's verification system so that rather than the platform awarding verified status to accounts that could prove their authenticity, it can now be purchased by anyone who pays for it.

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"What used to happen in organized disinformation would be for them to create, through software, thousands if not hundreds of thousands of accounts which promote one another and look real – now Mr. Musk has made that worse when he thought he was making it better," Benvie told PA Media.

"He allowed you to buy the verification badge rather than be awarded it."

Cover photo: STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP

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