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Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Way Up on Twitter Since Elon Musk's Takeover: Study

GLAAD and MMFA Report on Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Since Musk Took Over Twitter

A new study found that since Elon Musk acquired the social media platform, use of the false and hateful 'groomer' slur has increased exponentially on Twitter.

New research shows that Twitter users have used the antigay slur "groomer" more frequently since Elon Musk took over the platform.

A study by Media Matters and GLAAD released this week found that Twitter users retweeted nine prominent anti-LGBTQ+ accounts 1,200 percent more when they used the "groomer" slur in their tweets after Musk's October 27 takeover compared with the month before.

The accounts also showed an increase of over 1,100 percent in tweets from right-wing media accounts containing the word.

The study looked at prominent far-right influencers, including Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, Jake Shield, Jaimee Michell's Gays Against Groomers, Blaire White, Allie Beth Stuckey, Seth Dillon, Andy Ngo, and Mike Cernovic.

Chaya Raichik's Libs of TikTok mentions of groomer language grew from about 2,000 to almost 14,000, according to the report.

In addition, the study found that mentions of prominent LGBTQ+ accounts in tweets with "groomer" in them increased during that time, with one account rising by more than 225,000 percent after Musk acquired Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League also explored how hateful rhetoric and harassment spread on Twitter. The ADL found that these provocateurs depend on networked harassment to spread hate. This type of organizing is not new, but the strategy is rooted in tactics of stochastic terrorism, where people weaponize rhetoric that incites followers and sympathizers of the account to engage in acts of violent harassment.

While these studies show that hateful conduct is very much present on social media, according to still-published policies, this behavior violates Twitter's hateful conduct policy.

Kayla Gogarty, deputy research director at Media Matters and author of the study, tells The Advocate that the groomer slur began in earnest this spring, but that, for the most part, Twitter had taken steps to prohibit the insult.

"We did see the groomer rhetoric initially ramp up in March and April around the time that Libs of TikTok had started pushing it," she says.

"We also saw it amplified by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's press secretary. And then, Twitter did kind of crackdown on it, but then as soon as Musk took over there, there were immediate tweets, including the nine accounts that we focused on, specifically [writing] 'can I use the groomer language now?'" Gogarty explains.

To combat the growth in ant-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, she argues, advertisers should make their voices heard and engage in pressure by halting their business relationship with Musk's platform.

"Social media companies have a responsibility to the safety of users, and with Musk taking over, we've seen him disband now the safety council and just obliterating all of [the content moderation], letting these anti-LGBTQ figures back on the platform. But, at the moment, advertisers have leverage, and they should be concerned with their brand safety because as Musk rolls back a lot of these [safety] policies, their ads could appear near tweets with this anti-LGBTQ groomer rhetoric or other harmful language," Gogarty says.

A spokesperson for GLAAD tells The Advocate that accounts like Libs of TikTok are certainly problematic but that Raichik's LibsOfTikTok and Michell's group, Gays Against Groomers, are especially insidious.

Both Gays Against Groomers and Libs of TikTok have engaged in using the groomer smear and other anti-LGBTQ+ language since Musk's acquisition of Twitter.

"These people are lying; they are hate-driven. And they have an agenda which is engaged in disingenuous and bad faith activism," the spokesperson says.

"This whole thing where LibsOfTikTok says, 'oh, well, all we're doing is reposting things that, you know, quote-unquote with a capital 'L' liberals on the left are doing and claiming there's no editorializing, is of course not true."

They say that Michell's Gays Against Groomers group leads to confusion and muddying of the waters.

"They do add either ambiguous messaging about characterizing LGBTQ+ people as pedophiles falsely and maliciously with the absolutely clear intent of driving fear," the spokesperson says. "They are coming from a place of anti-LGBT animus and bigotry."

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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