New research to be released later this month by the misinformation tracker Network Contagion Research Institute suggests a connection between real-world incidents and variations of the word “groomer,” often aimed at gays and suggesting that they are adults bent on seducing children. Although polls indicate a significant minority of the population believes otherwise, gay people are not more likely to be predators than straight people. Pre-Musk, Twitter had classed the word “groomer” as hate speech. But usage began spiking not long after Musk said he would buy the platform, and it has surged repeatedly since, often after real-world incidents like the fatal shootings at a gay club in Colorado. “In the past three to four months, we have seen an increase in anti-LGBTQ incidents, and you can see a statistical correlation between these real-world incidents and the increased use of the term ‘groomer’ on Twitter,” said Alexander Reid Ross, a Network Contagion analyst who shared the findings with The Washington Post. He did not say that use of the term had led to the violence.
The second biggest spike in tweets with the word “groomed” came just after Musk took control of Twitter. The biggest, to more than 4,000 in a day, came in late November, shortly before a record seven daily antigay attacks were recorded in the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a nonprofit tracker of worldwide political violence, Ross said.