When he isn’t shilling for China, LeBron James has frequently made use of his time off the basketball court, and occasionally on it, participating in the progressive sport of race hustling. He did so again Saturday when he picked up on the corporate media narrative decrying Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and deigned himself an arbiter of what constitutes free speech.
Reports of Twitter being fun again spread across the internet as users tested the boundaries on Musk’s supposed “free speech absolutism” after the billionaire’s deal to acquire the social media platform was finalized. However, not everyone’s posts were in good fun as bad actors saw an opportunity to troll the change in leadership with racial slurs at an increased rate of 500 percent, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI).
With those facts available for anyone who cared to investigate a topic before making a claim to their more than 50 million followers, James chose his typical path and posted, “I don’t know Elon Musk and, [to be honest], 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 [as f*ck]. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
I dont 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. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech. https://t.co/Sy0jvXIBnC
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 29, 2022
While not specifically addressing the uptick in use of the N-word on the platform, Musk had noted Saturday that while Twitter had gone private, it was too soon for changes to policy to go into effect after announcing he would be forming a council to address content moderation.
“Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” he quote tweeted himself with the caption, “To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies.”
To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies https://t.co/k4guTsXOIu
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 29, 2022
As NCRI pointed out, the behavior that James was using to attack free speech was attributed to “bad actors” and depicted was being encouraged on the anonymous site 4chan.
“Evidence suggests that bad actors are trying to test the limits on [Twitter]. Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs. For example, over the last 12 hours, the use of the n-word has increased nearly 500% from the previous average.”
Evidence suggests that bad actors are trying to test the limits on @Twitter. Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs.
For example, over the last 12 hours, the use of the n-word has increased nearly 500% from the previous average. pic.twitter.com/mEqziaWuMF
— Network Contagion Research Institute (@ncri_io) October 28, 2022
Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth dove into the numbers further and posted on the platform, “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. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.”
He then added, “Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic. We’ve taken action to ban the users involved in this trolling campaign–and are going to continue working to address this in the days to come to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone.”
Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic. We’ve taken action to ban the users involved in this trolling campaign — and are going to continue working to address this in the days to come to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone. https://t.co/1hUnb1WYPZ
— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) October 30, 2022
The clarity provided by Roth may have come after James’ post, but the basketball player certainly could have seen NCRI’s findings before weighing in without the facts. Especially after he publicly chided himself for failing to do so last year when he had been called out for seemingly inciting violence against Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon who had saved the life of a young girl by shooting Ma’Khia Bryant before a stabbing could take place.
James had posted a picture of Reardon with the caption, “YOU’RE NEXT,” before later deleting it and writing, “ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
This you, LeBron? pic.twitter.com/viJxBs5QAT
— Viva Frei (@thevivafrei) October 30, 2022
Reading through the comments and Bronsky here is getting decimated. I think that a lot of these Athletes and Pesonalities protected by Twitter will wake up to the reality of free speech and hear what ppl truly think about them without Twitter deleting the negative comments. Lol
— John Stonks (@JohnUD60) October 30, 2022
People really don’t understand the concept of free speech do they? Free speech is a long spectrum of words from beautiful to extremely ugly and offensive but if we respect the amendment then Twitter should not be speech police.
— Diamond Dallas Piscopo (@dallaspiscopo) October 29, 2022
While many more users chimed in to state their point that having free speech means “Hate speech isn’t a real thing,” Musk had his intentions known with a letter to advertisers Thursday that he posted on the platform that read in part, “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence. There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”
Dear Twitter Advertisers pic.twitter.com/GMwHmInPAS
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2022
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