After Elon Musk officially closed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, an unprecedented wave of hate speech was unleashed from anonymous "trolling" accounts, seemingly testing the limits of the social media platform's moderation policies under its new ownership.
According to the Washington Post, the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) said the use of the N-word on Twitter surged by nearly 500 percent in the 12 hours immediately following the finalization of Musk's deal.
The Post cited several anonymous troll accounts that called on others to use racist language as the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist" became the official owner of Twitter.
"Elon now controls Twitter. Unleash the racial slurs. K---S AND N-----S," one account said, employing slurs for Jewish and Black people, per the outlet.
"I can freely express how much I hate n-----s … now, thank you Elon," another said, The Post reports.
Twitter was also flooded with a slew of sexist and anti-LGBTQ messages, according to the outlet. Anonymous accounts ran "tests" on the platform's moderation policies by "calling for the deadnaming of transgender people and the use of offensive terms, like 'groomer,'" per the Post.
On Friday (October 28), Musk said Twitter will form a "content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints" to address what is allowed and prohibited on the platform, adding that no major decisions on moderation will be made until the council convenes.
Conservative figures celebrated the deal, suggesting that Twitter's new ownership will strengthen free speech and expand rules on content moderation.
"FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!!" Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted Thursday (October 27) seemingly in response to the deal.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said in a tweet that Musk acquiring Twitter was "the most important development for Free Speech in decades."
On the other end of the aisle, entertainment industry titan Shonda Rhimes hinted Saturday (October 29) that she was leaving Twitter in the wake of Musk taking over the platform.
“Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye,” Rhimes tweeted to her 1.9 million followers.
NBA star LeBron James urged the new Twitter owner to address the "scary AF" increase of N-word usage on the app.
"I don't know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns Twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF," James tweeted Saturday in response to the report.
"So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech," he added.
Yoel Roth, head of safety and integrity at Twitter, said Saturday that the social media platform's policies on hateful conduct and slurs haven't changed since Musk's takeover.
"Over the last 48 hours, we've seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms," Roth tweeted, noting the majority of the accounts were "inauthentic." "To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts."
Roth said the company has taken steps to ban accounts linked to the "trolling campaign."