New layoffs at Twitter hit trust and safety workers even as advertisers worry about toxic speech


Recently, Elon Musk made some layoffs at Twitter, specifically targeting employees involved in trust and safety efforts. These roles are critical for maintaining a safe environment on the platform, which is important for advertisers. The layoffs, affecting around five to ten people, took place in early September. Twitter, now referred to as "X," has been facing challenges and controversies due to Musk's controversial tweets, conspiracy theories, and antisemitic content. As a result, advertising on the platform has declined by more than half and user engagement has decreased.

Prior to Musk's involvement, the trust and safety team at Twitter consisted of around 230 full-time employees who worked across various departments like product, legal, and engineering. Additionally, there were hundreds of contract workers involved in moderation and related tasks. However, after Musk took over, most of these employees were let go, leaving only a fraction of the original team. By mid-November, the trust and safety team had no engineers or agents, mainly relying on administrative staff. Additional cuts occurred in January, further reducing the team's size.

Musk went through two leaders of the trust and safety team, both of whom left the company after disagreements with Musk. The team was not replenished, and as a result, the headcount at Twitter decreased to just over 1,000 employees. Currently, there are approximately 20 full-time employees in the trust and safety team, with some formerly contract workers who were promoted. Most of their work involves content moderation, while a few handle legal and policy matters. Engineering needs are managed by the remaining 500 engineers at X, who have been working across the company.

Despite the growth of the trust and safety team prior to the recent layoffs, its capacity seems insufficient to address the platform's problems effectively. Musk has stirred controversy by reinstating accounts of neo-Nazi users and allowing the posting of exploitative content involving children. His actions have contributed to a rise in antisemitism on the platform. Musk and Linda Yaccarino, Twitter's CEO, have claimed that "99%" of the content on X is "healthy." However, this assertion was based on a single case study by Sprinklr, which analyzed 500,000 tweets and found that 15% contained English slurs. The study did not state that 99% of the content is healthy.

Although Yaccarino and Musk technically oversee the X trust and safety team, their limited resources and authority make it challenging to address the platform's extensive issues effectively.  

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post