Right-Wing Trolls Are Trying to Break Back Into Twitter

In two hours Twitter’s announcement that he had accepted Elon Musk’s $ 44 billion offer to buy the company and make it private, the first in terms of signs passed by Joe Mulhall’s screen. Mulhall is the director of research at Hope Not Hate, a British anti-racism and anti-fascism group that campaigns against bigotry.

When Musk announced his purchase of Twitter, saying that “freedom of expression is the foundation of a functioning democracy and Twitter is the city’s digital square where vital issues for the future of humanity are debated,” Mulhall said. see that new Twitter accounts were being created previously. banned far-right individuals and groups, including British far-right anti-Islam political activist Tommy Robinson and Britain First, a fascist political party. In the United States, other neo-Nazis who had previously been banned from the platform set up new accounts on Twitter.

Mulhall, Hope Not Hate, and others reported the accounts on Twitter and were later banned before they could settle. But some worry that this could indicate a resurgence of people previously banned from Twitter for spreading hatred and conflict, if Musk keeps his promise to loosen the rules on what types of posts are allowed.

The ripple effects have already begun. On Monday, Christopher Bouzy, the founder of Bot Sentinel, a service that tracks non-genuine behavior on Twitter, realized that several left-wing accounts had already complained about the loss of followers. Bouzy realized he had lost 400 of his 77,000 followers. At first, I didn’t think it would be a big deal: people turn to those they follow on a regular basis.

Bot Sentinel is updated at midnight, Eastern Time. When Bouzy looked at the data at 7 a.m., it became clear that something more important was happening. On a normal day, an average of about 750 accounts out of the approximately 2.5 million they show are disabled or suspended.

The results at the end of April 25 were significantly different: 5,132 accounts had been deactivated across the political spectrum and 341 more had been suspended. Other indicators also seemed strange. “We’re seeing this significant increase in right-wing accounts start to follow these other accounts,” Bouzy says. “It could be a bat signal where they feel safe to return to Twitter, or it could be something else.”

Manoel Ribeiro, who studies the migration of platforms between the far right at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, calls it “platform reform.” “If Twitter adopts an absolutist philosophy of free speech, it may be that decisions related to hate speech or incitement to harm are reversed, restoring the far-right popular accounts,” he says.

The problem is not limited to the United States. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has seen a tenfold increase in his number of followers over the past two days, compared to his previous average, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost supporters on April 26, offset average daily earnings. “It doesn’t make sense,” Bouzy says. “I don’t understand why Musk’s Twitter acquisition would have such an effect on Brazilian politics.” Twitter confirmed on NBC News that the increase in account activity was not automated and it was an organic loss that could be related to the acquisition of the platform by Musk.

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