Elon Musk accuses BBC reporter of lying over rise in Twitter hate speech

Twitter owner Elon Musk recently sat down with BBC tech correspondent James Clayton to discuss his stewardship of Twitter
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

Twitter owner Elon Musk has accused a BBC journalist of lying after the journo claimed there has been a rise in hateful content on the platform since Musk took over but failed to provide even one example.

In an interview with BBC correspondent James Clayton, it was put to Musk that “hateful speech” had become more prominent on Twitter under his stewardship.

“We’ve spoken to people very recently who were involved in moderation and they just say there’s not enough people to police this stuff, particularly around hate speech in the company. Is that something that you want to address?” Clayton asked.

“What hate speech are you talking about? I mean, you use Twitter. Do you see a rise in hate speech? Just a personal anecdote? I don’t,” the U.S. billionaire replied.

“Personally, for you, I would say I get more of that kind of content, yeah, personally. But I’m not going to talk for the rest of Twitter,” Clayton responded.

Musk questioned what the BBC correspondent regarded as “hateful,” and asked for any examples of the content he was talking about.

“Well, yeah, you know, content that would solicit a reaction, something that is slightly racist, slightly sexist,” Clayton replied, prompting Musk to ask him whether something that is “slightly sexist” constitutes hate speech and should therefore be banned.

“I’m not saying anything,” the BBC reporter replied.

“I’m just curious, I’m trying to understand what you mean by hateful content, and I’m asking for specific examples. You’ve just said that something is slightly sexist, that’s hateful content. Does that mean that should be banned?” Musk asked.

“You’ve asked me whether my feed has got less or more, I’d say it’s got slightly more,” replied the journalist, prompting Musk to again ask for an example.

“That’s why I’m asking for examples. Can you name one example?”

“Honestly, I don’t… I don’t actually use that feed anymore because I just don’t particularly like it. And actually a lot of people are quite similar. I only look at my followers,” Clayton said.

“I say, sir, that you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Musk replied. “You cannot give me a single example of hateful content, not even one tweet. And yet you claimed that hateful content was high. That is false, you just lied,” the Twitter owner added.

The red-faced BBC journalist eventually suggested the interview move on to another topic, citing time pressures.

The 90-minute exchange also covered the BBC’s recent displeasure with Twitter for branding some of its affiliated accounts with a disclaimer describing the organization as “government funded media,” a move Musk agreed to row back on and amend to “publicly funded.”

“We want it to be as truthful and accurate as possible – we’re adjusting the label,” Musk stated.

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