Twitter CEO Elon Musk pressed a BBC journalist who claimed during a Tuesday interview that there has been a rise in hateful content on the platform since Musk’s Oct. 2022 takeover.
Musk challenged BBC interviewer James Clayton on the definition of hateful content, with Clayton saying he meant language that is “slightly racist” or “slightly sexist.”
“So you think if something is ‘slightly sexist’ it should be banned?” Musk asked. “Is that what you’re saying?”
“I’m not saying anything,” Clayton said.
“I’m trying to see what you mean by hateful content. I’m asking for specific examples, and you just said that if something is ‘slightly sexist,’ that’s hateful content. Does that mean that it should be banned?” Musk pressed.
Musk asked Clayton to name “a single example” of hateful content on the platform. Clayton said he has not used the “For You” tab on his Twitter feed for a few weeks because he does not particularly like it. (RELATED: Jean-Pierre Says Musk ‘Haphazardly’ Released ‘Twitter Files’ As A ‘Distraction’)
“Well hang on a second. You said you’ve seen more hateful content but you can’t name a single example, not even one,” Musk said.
“I’m not sure I’ve used that feed for the last three or four weeks,” he said.
“Well then how did you see the hateful content?” Musk interrupted.
“Because I’ve been using Twitter since you’ve taken it over for the last six months,” Clayton answered.
“Well then I say, sir, that you don’t know what you’re talking about … That’s false. You just lied,” Musk said.
Clayton then argued that “many organizations,” including the U.K.’s Strategic Dialogue Institute, had documented a rise in hateful content on Twitter under Musk.
“Look, people will say all sorts of nonsense, I’m literally asking for a single example, and you can’t name one” Musk said.
In December, researchers from the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League reported a rise in slurs against black Americans, Jews and gay men since Musk’s takeover, according to The New York Times. Anti-Semitic posts reportedly surged 61 percent, and slurs against blacks jumped from an average of 1,282 instances per day to 3,876.
Musk previously disputed these findings when Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff cited them in December. The Twitter CEO claimed at the time that “hate speech impressions” had actually decreased by one-third since his takeover.