A BBC journalist was schooled by Elon Musk when the reporter charged Twitter’s CEO with allowing “hate speech” on his platform.
The embarrassing situation unfolded when journalist and U.S. Tech reporter James Clayton arranged a sit-down meeting with the busy Musk but appeared unprepared to substantiate his claims.
The reporter opened with a pointed question that cast Twitter in a negative light: “We’ve spoken to people very recently who were involved in moderation,” Clayton said, “and they just say there are not enough people to police this stuff, particularly around hate speech in the company.”
Having shared his accusation, he asked Musk, “Is that something that you want to address?”
Musk politely asked for clarification.
“What hate speech are you talking about? I mean, you use Twitter,” he asked.
Musk added: “Do you see a rise in hate speech? Just a personal anecdote … I don’t.”
Clayton did not answer Musk directly. He noted that on his “For you” page — the Twitter tab that shows notable tweets from followers and recommended tweets — he noticed “more of that content.”
Musk pressed Clayton to elaborate on his vague response. Musk asked for specifics: “[Is there] content you don’t like? … [Can you] describe a hateful thing?”
Clayton struggled with his response.
“Yeah, you know just, content will solicit a reaction that may include something slightly racist or sexist, those kinds of things,” he explained.
Musk began to show his irritation at this point and pressed as to how “slightly sexist” content constitutes “hate speech.”
Musk then asked Clayton to provide a specific example.
Clayton could not provide an example and admitted that he had not looked at his Twitter’s For you tab in some time.
Musk asked pointedly, “Well, then how can you say you’ve seen more hateful content?”
Clayton said he could make the claim because he has used Twitter since Musk took control of the company last year.
Musk pressed the reporter: “So then, at some point, you must have seen hateful content,” the Twitter CEO queried. “I’m asking for one example, and you can’t give a single one.”
Clayton attempted but could not cite an example. Musk then charged: “I say, sir, that you don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Really?” the surprised reporter replied.
“Yes,” Musk said categorically. “Because you cannot give me a single example of hateful content, not even one tweet. And yet you claimed that hateful content was high. … That is false; you just lied.”
Twitter users responded to the exchange by overwhelmingly supporting Musk.
Podcaster Benny Johnson wrote: “One would imagine, if you are going to tackle one of the brightest people on the planet, about a company he has recently bought, that you’d come into the discussion at least semi-prepared. What a car wreck of an interview.”
Konstantin Kisin, the host of TRIGGERnometry, wrote: “This conversation between Elon Musk and a BBC journalist is hilarious. Note how quickly these narratives collapse when released into the real world.”
The Daily Wire reported that Jack Posobiec observed the BBC’s profile of the interview “omitted the part where Elon challenged this journalist on ‘hateful content.’”
Posobiec noted the BBC “article actually says the BBC challenged ELON on hate speech! This is why he required the live Twitter Spaces.”
Posobiec noted that Elon had wisely insisted the interview be shown unedited on Twitter Spaces, which includes the dialogue noted above.
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