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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Dane County departments to leave ‘X’ by 2024, citing increase in hate speech

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi requested all departments cease use of the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, by the beginning of 2024.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi sent an email to all Dane County department heads and elected officials on Nov. 28 requesting all departments “phase out” use of social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, by Jan. 1, 2024.

Since billionaire Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter in October 2022, reported hate speech on the platform has substantially increased, according to a study from multiple universities. Parisi cites the reported increase in hate speech on the platform as the reason behind his request.

“As a county government, it’s important we lead by example and ensure the way we deliver services doesn’t inadvertently or unintentionally condone such behavior,” Parisi said in the email.

As of Dec. 1, two Dane County agencies have already ceased use of the platform. The Dane County Regional Airport and Public Health Madison & Dane County posted on X that neither will continue actively using the platform and promoted accounts maintained on other social media sites.

Musk bought out the company for $44 billion. As part of his purchase, Musk promised to lessen content moderation and remove spam bots on the site. 

In December 2022, X dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group created in 2016 to help devise policies to combat hate speech, human rights exploitations and other ethical issues the platform faced.

Additionally, Musk reinstated previously banned accounts on X after tweeting a public poll on the subject; the “yes” vote won with 72.4%. Some of the reinstated accounts included former President Donald Trump and David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Increase in hate speech is something I’ve been noticing since the platform changed ownership. The decision was not driven by one event, but rather multiple that culminated in the final straw of what we’ve been seeing over the past couple of weeks,” Parisi told The Daily Cardinal. “The final event was when Elon Musk was liking antisemitic tweets.”

Last month, Musk tweeted his support for an antisemitic post on the platform that blamed Jewish people for creating hatred against white people, invoking backlash against himself and the platform. In the following weeks, multiple organizations paused advertisements on X, including the European Union, Disney and Comcast.

Parisi advised prudence regarding the use of social media for Dane County government, suggesting each department make their own informed decision based on what is most effective for them.

“I think it's time we take a step back and take a conscious approach at how we use [social media], what we use it for and how much we use it,” Parisi said. “It's a very dynamic phenomenon that happened to us. We need to be aware of all the impacts it has on us, both positive and negative.”

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