Elton John is the latest celebrity to quit Twitter, citing the proliferation of “misinformation” under the platform’s new CEO Elon Musk.
“All my life, I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world,” the “Rocket Man” singer tweeted on Friday. “I’ve decided to no longer use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.”
All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world.
I’ve decided to no longer use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) December 9, 2022
“I love your music. Hope you come back,” Musk responded. “Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?”
I love your music. Hope you come back. Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022
As PinkNews notes, Twitter recently announced that it would stop enforcing its policy against misinformation about COVID-19, while allowing accounts that had previously been blocked for spreading misinformation to return to the site.
Musk, who acquired the social media platform on October 27, has personally posted misleading and false info on Twitter. Following the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband Paul Pelosi, Musk tweeted a news story promoting a baseless and homophobic conspiracy theory about the attack. Musk later deleted the tweet.
Over the weekend, however, he was at it again. On Saturday, he tweeted a brief excerpt from Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth’s 300-page doctoral dissertation entitled “Gay Data” where he argued that Grindr should “focus on crafting safety strategies” for minors using their dating app since many will be using it anyway.
“Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis,” Musk tweeted.
Roth has been critical of Musk’s approach to “free speech” on Twitter. As many on the platform were quick to note, the baseless implication left Roth, who is gay and Jewish, open to harassment and threats from far-right extremists pushing false claims about LGBTQ+ people “grooming” children for abuse.
This isn’t the first time Musk has used baseless accusations of pedophilia against people who publicly embarrass him. In 2018, 12 members of a soccer team got stuck in a cave in Thailand and Musk called one of the British rescuers, Vernon Unsworth, a “pedo guy” after he felt insulted by Unsworth. Musk reportedly spent $500,000 investigating Unsworth to back up the claim ahead of the ensuing defamation lawsuit, but he couldn’t find any evidence that Unsworth was actually a child abuser.
According to recent findings from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League, and other groups, Twitter has seen an uptick in hate speech since Musk took over. As the New York Times reported earlier this month, anti-gay slurs appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Musk took over. Afterward, that figure rose to 3,964 times a day.
“Watching Elon launch a digital mob against his former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, an openly gay Jewish man, is one of the most vile and disgusting things I’ve ever seen,” tweeted Alejandra Caraballo. “He’s putting Yoel’s life in danger and he knows it. It’s sick, twisted, and sociopathic.”
Watching Elon launch a digital mob against his former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, an openly gay Jewish man, is one of the most vile and disgusting things I've ever seen. He's putting Yoel's life in danger and he knows it. It's sick, twisted, and sociopathic. pic.twitter.com/eOR6Kt9zuS
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) December 11, 2022
“These cruel attacks by Elon Musk are sickening and based on a purposefully ignorant mischaracterization of @yoyoel’s work,” tech journalist and long-time Musk critic Kara Swisher tweeted. “It also puts him in direct personal danger from people who believe this bullshit from the chief shit stirrer.”
Between calling the submarine guy a pedo and using a fake news sources to push an old homophobic trope after Paul Pelosi was attacked and now this, it’s obvious that there are some really disturbing character traits at work here.
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) December 11, 2022
“There seems to be little limit to Elon Musk’s predatory and malevolent nature,” journalist Josh Marshall. “He is now insinuating that the fmr head of Trust & Safety at Twitter, an openly gay Jewish man, is a pedophile. Just another level of this is that Roth actually stayed on for several weeks under Musk..”
There seems to be little limit to Elon Musk's predatory and malevolent nature. He is now insinuating that the fmr head of Trust & Safety at Twitter, an openly gay Jewish man, is a pedophile. Just another level of this is that Roth actually stayed on for several weeks under Musk.. pic.twitter.com/hTHZ6SNQEO
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) December 10, 2022