ELON Musk branded a BBC reporter a liar in a row over whether Twitter’s volume of hate speech is on the rise.
The world’s second-richest man, 51, who bought the microblogging platform for $44 billion in October, hit out at US tech journalist James Clayton after unexpectedly agreeing to a sit-down interview with the reporter on Tuesday night.
When asked by James to respond to claims hate speech had become more prevalent on Twitter since his takeover, Elon said: “I say sir that you don’t know what you are talking about… because you cannot give me a single example of hateful content, not even one tweet.
“You claimed that hateful content is high. That is false, you just lied.”
James went on to defend his question and quoted analysis from an organisation that warned about a rise in hate-filled material on the site.
The far-left Democrat supporting Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms have provided the most comprehensive picture to date of how conversations on Twitter have changed since Elon took on Twitter.
It showed slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day before the Tesla boss’ takeover – while after they were 3,876 times a day.
Hatred against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before his takeover, while afterward their use jumped to 3,964 times a day.
Research also showed antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 per cent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.
Imran Ahmed, CCDH’s chief executive, said: “Elon Musk sent up the Bat Signal to every kind of racist, misogynist and homophobe that Twitter was open for business. They have reacted accordingly.”
Despite the dispute with the BBC tech reporter, Elon said he would agree to the corporation’s demands to remove a Twitter label labelling it “government funded media” after a row with the broadcaster.
He added: “We want it to be as truthful and accurate as possible – we’re adjusting the label.”
Elon also insisted Twitter’s role is to be a real-time “immediate source of truth that you can count on”.
He said: “If Twitter is the best source of truth, we will succeed… if we are not the best source of truth, we will fail.”