We exposed Toxic Twitter

Posted on February 13, 2024 in Impact stories.

Toxic Twitter: Black mobile phone displaying Twitter logo

CCDH warned about the risks of harmful content on X, formerly Twitter, under Elon Musk’s leadership. Our research exposed a flood of hate speech and misinformation on the platform following his takeover. Our campaign has raised alarms among policymakers and the public, encouraging them to hold Twitter (now X) accountable.

The Campaign

We exposed the rise in hate speech following Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, including misogyny, anti-LGBTQ+ and racism. We showed that the platform could generate millions annually from just 10 of the accounts spreading hate & lies reinstated under Musk.

Our research also showed that Twitter kept hosting hateful posts after we reported them to the platform using their own tools, including content published by Twitter Blue subscribers. 

Along with 40 leading civil society organizations, CCDH led a call for Twitter advertisers to remove their ads should Musk remove content moderation and user safeguards on the platform.

After Musk sued CCDH for exposing his failures, we kept doing research on X. During the Israel-Gaza conflict, we identified a rise in the spread of antisemitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian hate.


  • In December 2022, Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council resigned citing CCDH research.
  • After being approached by the Washington Post for a comment on an article about CCDH’s research, Fiverr immediately pulled their ads from Twitter.
  • In May 2023, the second head of Trust and Safety resigned. The BBC cited our research in connection.
  • In June 2023, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner urged Twitter to act on rising hate speech, citing a surge in complaints and CCDH’s research.
  • In October 2023, The European Commission issued a warning and made a legally binding request for information from Musk’s X over its handling of hate speech, misinformation, and violent terrorist content amid the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Policy impact

  • Along with 40 leading civil society organizations, CCDH led a call for Twitter advertisers to remove their ads should Musk remove content moderation and user safeguards on the platform.
  • In December 2022, Rep. Adam Schiff wrote a letter urging Musk to address the rise of hate speech on Twitter, citing CCDH’s work. In March 2023, he wrote a second letter highlighting our report that showed an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric on the platform.
  • In July 2023, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant announced action to hold Twitter accountable for the proliferation of hate speech, citing CCDH’s research on Twitter Blue and the rise of hate under Elon Musk.
  • In August 2023, three members of Congress sent a letter to X Corp., Elon Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino “demanding answers on the company’s efforts to threaten and intimidate independent research organizations”, citing the lawsuit against CCDH.

Press impact

  • New York Times: “Hate Speech’s Rise on Twitter Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find”
  • NBC News: “Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ pledge brings back QAnon, far-right Twitter accounts”
  • Fast Company: “Twitter Blue profiles are already a hotbed of misinformation”
  • Fortune: “The platform isn’t safe anymore’: A former Twitter trust and safety advisor says Elon Musk is making all the wrong moves” 
  • The Guardian: “Elon Musk reinstates Donald Trump’s Twitter account after taking poll” 
  • Axios: “Musk’s Twitter ‘amnesty’ plan for suspended accounts alarms activists”
  • USA Today: “Paging Elon Musk: Poll shows Americans back Twitter safeguards amid worry over hate speech” 
  • The Independent: “QAnon, white nationalists and hate speech: Experts reveal how the floodgates opened on Elon Musk’s Twitter”
  • Axios: “Twitter not removing hateful posts from subscribed users, study finds”
  • Daily Beast: “Report Finds Musk Is Doing Little to Remove Neo-Nazi Posts”
  • The Hill: “X failed to remove hate related to Israel-Gaza conflict: report”
  • Further research notes into LGBTQ+, misogyny, and climate disinformation under Musk generated 1500+ article mentions and 210 headline and summary pieces.