Linda Yaccarino Says X Needs More Moderators After All

When Elon Musk took over Twitter, since rebranded as X, his favourite letter of the alphabet, he went on a firing spree. Chief amongst these ejected have been folks engaged on belief and security, the work of protecting unhealthy content material, from hate speech to baby exploitation, off the platform.

In entrance of a US Senate committee immediately, X CEO Linda Yaccarino appeared to tacitly acknowledge that Musk went too far in tearing down the platform’s guardrails, indicating the corporate was partially reversing course. She mentioned that X had elevated the variety of belief and security employees by 10 p.c previously 14 months and deliberate to rent 100 new moderators in Austin centered on baby sexual exploitation.

Yaccarino spoke at a Senate listening to referred to as to debate social networks’ failure to curb baby sexual abuse, alongside the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, Snap, and Discord. She additionally mentioned a number of occasions that “less than 1 percent” of X customers have been below 18. That declare—and her announcement that after 14 months of Musk’s possession and deep cuts to belief and security, the corporate was now hiring new moderators—raised the eyebrows of social platform consultants and former Twitter workers.

Theodora Skeadas, a former member of Twitter’s belief and security group laid off by Musk in November 2022, says that even after making the hires Yaccarino boasted of, X remains to be woefully understaffed for a significant social platform. “Unless their technical systems for flagging and removing content have really improved, 100 is not enough,” says Skeadas. “And that seems unlikely because they’ve fired so many engineers.” X didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Bonfire of the Mods

Shortly after acquiring Twitter in October 2022, Musk laid off almost half of Twitter’s workers, making deep cuts into the belief and security groups. Researchers and civil society organizations that had constructed relationships with the platform’s belief and security groups with a view to alert them to hateful or problematic content material shortly discovered themselves with out anybody left on the platform to contact.

The platform was almost banned in Brazil within the run-up to the nation’s 2022 presidential runoffs, after the nation’s Electoral Court frightened that Musk would enable election-related lies to unfold. A group of educational researchers discovered that hate speech spiked after Musk took the helm, and final September, forward of a historic election yr, X fired 5 of the remaining belief and security employees specializing in combating mis- and disinformation.

Skeadas says that earlier than Musk took over, there have been about 400 Twitter employees engaged on belief and security, plus some 5,000 contractors who helped evaluation content material on the platform. Most of these staffers and greater than 4,000 of the contractors have been laid off.

Even after Yaccarino’s claimed latest improve in belief and security employees of greater than 10 p.c, the platform doubtless nonetheless has far fewer folks engaged on protecting customers secure. There’s “no way” the corporate has extra belief and security employees than it did earlier than Musk, Skeadas says. “If there were 20 people left and they hired two people, then that is a 10 percent increase, but that’s still nothing compared to before,” she says.