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Study Finds Hate Speech Increases on Twitter After Elon Musk Acquisition

Posted in: School of Communication and Media News

Graph showing a spike in Twitter Date over a 12-hour period


October 28, 2022      

A team of faculty from the Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University today released a study on the increase in hate speech on Twitter in the hours immediately after Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform, a transaction that created the perception by extremist users that content restrictions would be alleviated. 

Highlights from the study from the School’s Center for Strategic Communication include:

  • The seven-day average of Tweets using the studied hate terms prior to Musk’s acquisition was never higher than 84 times per hour.
  • However, on October 28 from midnight to noon (immediately following Musk’s acquisition), the studied hate speech was Tweeted some 4,778 times. 
  • Terms studied included vulgar and hostile terms for individuals based on race, religion, ethnicity, and orientation.
  • The potential impact of this hate speech (the potential number of times a term posted in Twitter could have been viewed) was more than 3 million. 
  • Elon Musk has promised to reduce restrictions on the platform and “free the bird.” From these results, this directive represents an obvious danger to young people using the platform.
  • Platforms with lax or no moderation are frequently spaces filled with racism, homophobia, transphobia, and antisemitism.
  • Recorded data indicating the spike in hate speech:

The full study, which can be found here, was conducted by faculty Dr. Jin-A Choi, Dr. Bond Benton, Dr. Yi Luo, and Mr. Keith Green from the Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication, which provides social media analytics tools and training for faculty and students for classroom learning and research projects.



About the School of Communication and Media: Founded in 2012, the School of Communication and Media offers a range of dynamic programs in communication and media to a talented and diverse student population of over 1,500. Offering degrees in film and television, social media and public relations, advertising, journalism and digital media, sports communication, animation and visual effects, and an MA in public and organizational relations, the School prepares the next generation of communication and media practitioners and leaders. The School houses award-winning student programs that include WMSC Radio, The Montclarion newspaper, Hawk Communications PR Agency, the Red Hawk Sports Network, Hawk+ OTT streaming platform, and News Lab, as well as the Center for Cooperative Media, which serves the public by working to grow and strengthen local journalism. Recent national School recognitions include an Edward R. Murrow Award, several Marconi Award nominations, and a College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.


Contact: Keith Green, School of Communication and Media, 973-655-3701 or