Elon Musk had a made-for-TV moment with a BBC reporter who could not cite a single example of hate speech on Twitter after asking Musk what he’s done to curb sexism and racism on his platform.
In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, Musk denied that instances of sexism and racism on Twitter have spiked in recent months and challenged technology correspondent James Clayton to name an example of a post that should be banned. Clayton, who said his Twitter feed has been filled with more instances of sexism and racism, then claimed to have not seen his Twitter feed for “three to four weeks” and could not name an example.
BBC reporter: Hate speech is on the rise on Twitter.
Musk: Can you give me an example?
Reporter: Well I haven’t seen hate speech on Twitter for awhile.
Musk: So you can’t give me an example?
Reporter: Let’s move on!
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) April 12, 2023
Throughout the interview, Musk defended his company’s approach to removing hateful speech from Twitter. In one month alone, the company removed 400,000 accounts to help “make Twitter safer.” Critics have pointed out that Musk so far has not turned over company data that preceded his takeover or offered an explanation for how leadership defines hate speech.
Musk, who famously allowed President Donald Trump to return to Twitter following his ban, told the interviewer he voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Musk also claimed his attempts to clamp down on misinformation have been successful, though the BBC cites a study from Newsguard that claims untrustworthy accounts experienced a 60 percent increase in activity in the weeks after Musk took control.
In recent weeks, publicly funded outlets like the BBC and NPR have been labeled on Twitter as “state-affiliated media” which caused reporters to lay the blame on Musk for spreading misinformation. Musk in his latest interview relented, at least on BBC, to say the news organization will be labeled as “publicly funded.” Musk added, “If we use the same words as the BBC uses to describe itself, that presumably would be OK.” The British public provides the BBC with approximately 71 percent of its total income.