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Jewish, Muslim teams voice issues over Musk Twitter takeover

(RNS) — Muslim and Jewish organizations are expressing concern about billionaire Elon Musk’s impending possession of Twitter, warning that the aerospace tycoon may roll again moderation insurance policies and unleash a brand new wave of harassment in opposition to spiritual minorities typically focused on the platform.

“It strikes me as deeply troubling and probably harmful that two individuals — Musk and (Fb co-founder) Mark Zuckerberg — basically management the general public sq.,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, stated in a press release. “That looks as if a tragic day for democracy.”

Twitter introduced on Monday (April 25) that Musk will take over the corporate, with the deal anticipated to finalize someday within the subsequent three to 6 months. Musk has been a frequent critic of the platform’s present moderating insurance policies, and his expressed objectives for the platform beneath his management have centered on free speech.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital city sq. the place issues very important to the way forward for humanity are debated,” he stated in a statement saying the deal. “Twitter has super potential — I stay up for working with the corporate and the neighborhood of customers to unlock it.”

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However for the reason that announcement, Musk has promoted criticism of Twitter on the platform, and firm staffers have reportedly expressed concern he could undo long-standing efforts to average content material.

Some teams — together with spiritual organizations — have additionally voiced ambivalence about Musk’s interpretation of free speech.

The ADL, a Jewish civil rights group, is one in every of a number of teams that assist Twitter average hateful content material by serving on the corporate’s Trust and Safety Council.

Jonathan Greenblatt. Photograph by Carl Cox, courtesy of ADL

“We all know firsthand that hate and extremism in digital areas can result in bodily violence, significantly in opposition to Jews and different marginalized communities,” Greenblatt stated in his assertion.

“Twitter has made some strides in tackling on-line hate and extremism in recent times, and so whereas we wish to be cautiously optimistic about how Elon Musk will run the platform, he has not demonstrated any give attention to these points so far. We fear that he may take issues in a really completely different route.”

Greenblatt additionally expressed issues that Twitter will lack transparency and accountability when it turns into a personal firm beneath Musk. A consultant for the corporate famous that it’s too early to inform how Musk’s possession of Twitter will influence ADL’s advising function.

Greenblatt was echoed by Sumayyah Waheed, senior coverage counsel for Muslim Advocates, which additionally serves on Twitter’s Belief and Security Council.

“Even earlier than this acquisition, Twitter was failing to implement their guidelines and take down prohibited, harmful content material that encourages hate and threats,” she stated.

RELATED: Group reports record tally of antisemitic incidents in 2021

“Musk’s takeover threatens to make Twitter an much more harmful place for Muslims and different marginalized individuals — and that features the very actual chance of permitting (former President Donald) Trump again on the platform. Do not forget that Trump used his Twitter account to unfold lies in regards to the election and encourage the lethal Jan. 6 riot. This type of hate and disinformation is more likely to unfold if Musk additional weakens the platform’s already-weak content material moderation insurance policies, as he has steered he would.”

Individuals who belong to non secular minorities have long been listed as these almost definitely to endure harassment on Twitter, alongside ladies, individuals of coloration, individuals with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ neighborhood.

In a survey carried out by the ADL in 2021, 36% of Jewish respondents stated they’d skilled on-line harassment, similar to 33% the 12 months earlier than. As well as, 22% stated they’d skilled “extreme” on-line harassment, barely up from 20% in 2020.

The identical survey discovered that 42% of Muslim respondents stated they’d skilled on-line harassment, with 32% saying the harassment they skilled was extreme.

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