Twitter’s former security and integrity chief said there was more censorship on the platform under Elon Musk, who stepped up efforts to get rid of hate speech.
Yoel Roth, who suddenly quit last week despite Musk’s backing, says chief Twit has tasked his team with ensuring the platform flags hate speech following an increase in such posts after completing its $44 billion buyout.
‘M. Musk empowered my team to act more aggressively to remove hate speech on the platform — censoring more content, not less,’ Roth wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times on Saturday.
“Before I left, I shared data about Twitter’s enforcement of hateful behavior, showing that by some measure Twitter was actually safer under Mr. Musk than it was before.”
Roth, however, warned that Musk’s goal of creating a platform for absolute free speech could ultimately be hampered by Apple and Google, who could kick Twitter out of their app stores over security concerns.
That would be the latest issue facing Musk, who lost about 1,200 more employees on Friday after refusing his ultimanum to commit to a “hardcore” work environment.
Following the resignations, Musk called on all available coders to meet him at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, with the CEO sharing a group photo of himself and his staff giving thumbs up.
Yoel Roth (left), former head of security and integrity at Twitter, said his team had been empowered by Elon Musk (right) to crack down on hate speech.
Amid a turbulent week that saw Twitter lose 1,200 more employees, Musk tweeted photos of himself and his coding team during a meeting on Saturday
Although he describes himself as a free speech absolutist, Musk’s goal of transforming Twitter has been primarily impacted by advertisers, Roth wrote.
The former security czar said that since 90% of the company’s revenue comes from ads, “Twitter has no choice but to operate in a way that won’t jeopardize revenue streams. who keep the lights on”.
The problems between Twitter and ad buyers became apparent when users took advantage of Musks’ $8-a-month verification scheme to parody official accounts, wreaking havoc on companies like Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin, which saw billions of dollars wiped from their stocks following controversial tweets from impersonation accounts.
Roth said while that likely spurred Musk to find profits outside of advertisers, Chief Twit’s biggest challenge may be Google and Apple.
“Failure to follow Apple and Google’s guidelines would be catastrophic, risking Twitter’s expulsion from their app stores and making it harder for billions of potential users to obtain Twitter’s services,” wrote Roth.
“This gives Apple and Google enormous power to shape the decisions made by Twitter.”
He noted corporate influence as his team was regularly contacted by representatives from Apple and Google with complaints about racial slurs and sexual content they encountered on Twitter.
Roth said the companies’ rules reflect the values of those in power rather than those of their users, and praised Musk’s efforts to end this version of censorship.
Although he approved of Musk’s decision to form a content moderation board to guide Twitter policy, Roth criticized the CEO’s decision to be the sole decision maker, saying it was not different from what the leaders of Apple and Google are doing.
“It is for this reason that I chose to leave the company: a Twitter whose policies are set by fiat has little need for a trust and safety function dedicated to its principled development” , wrote Roth.
On Friday, Musk said Twitter would be a platform for free speech, but hateful tweets would be demonetized and not seen by many.
The former chief security and integrity officer made waves when he resigned last week despite his endorsement by Musk for reducing the number of views of harmful content in search results by 95%.
Roth was involved in the decision to censor reports about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop – a move then-CEO Jack Dorsey said he regretted.
His team also saw former President Donald Trump banned for his comments following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
On Friday, Musk, who describes himself as a champion of free speech, outlined the company’s latest censorship policy.
“Twitter’s new policy is freedom of expression, not freedom of access,” Musk tweeted. ‘Negative/hateful tweets will be deboosted and demonetized to the max, so no ads or other revenue for Twitter.
“You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically search for it, which is no different from the rest of the internet.”
The Twit Chief added: “Note, this only applies to the individual tweet, not the entire account.”
A former Twitter executive who recently left the company told CNN’s Oliver Darcy (above) that ‘[Twitter] Gonna struggle just to keep the lights on’
The CEO’s latest announcement comes after Twitter reportedly lost several “critical” engineering teams following a mass exodus that saw its workforce plummet by 32%.
Meanwhile, the mass exodus doesn’t seem to bother the billionaire CEO. who claimed that Twitter usage ‘just hit another all-time high’
As chaos descended on rumors it was closing following the mass exodus, Musk tweeted: “What should Twitter do next?”
Musk emailed his remaining 3,700 workers on Wednesday and gave them a deadline of 5 p.m. ET Thursday to either click on a link confirming their willingness to work “long, high-intensity hours” or leave the company. with three months of severance pay.
Fortune estimates between 1,000 and 1,200 employees have quit so far, with Musk demanding that all remaining coders report to Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on Friday.
Many shared their departures on social media, including a viral video of Boston as workers counted their last seconds on Twitter.
Matthew Miller, whose LinkedIn profile says he worked as a Twitter engineer for 9 years, shared the video of himself and his colleagues counting down when they will no longer work for the company after Musk’s deadline .
“Happy New Year,” Miller shouted from Twitter’s Boston office. ‘Yay! Hooray! It’s appropriate for the occasion.
Matthew Miller (bottom left), shared a viral video of himself and his colleagues counting down to when they were no longer working for the company after Musk’s deadline
After Deadline, a former Twitter executive who recently left the company told CNN’s Oliver Darcy that, “Elon finds he can’t bully top talent. They have a lot of options and won’t put up with his antics.
‘[Twitter] gonna struggle just to keep the lights on.
On Twitter, Musk appeared unfazed by the mass resignations, saying the site had just “hit a new high” in usage. ‘Let it sink in.’
As chaos descended on rumors it was closing following the mass exodus, Musk added, “What should Twitter do next?”