Musk Appears To Have Frozen Out Moderators On Twitter…. That’s Not Good

Elon Musk is free speech at all costs sort of guy. And it is possible that we’re starting to see that in action as this Bloomberg story reveals that members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety organization appear to be frozen out from moderating content on the platform:

Twitter Inc., the social network being overhauled by new owner Elon Musk, has frozen some employee access to internal tools used for content moderation and other policy enforcement, curbing the staff’s ability to clamp down on misinformation ahead of a major US election.

Most people who work in Twitter’s Trust and Safety organization are currently unable to alter or penalize accounts that break rules around misleading information, offensive posts and hate speech, except for the most high-impact violations that would involve real-world harm, according to people familiar with the matter. Those posts were prioritized for manual enforcement, they said.

People who were on call to enforce Twitter’s policies during Brazil’s presidential election did get access to the internal tools on Sunday, but in a limited capacity, according to two of the people. The company is still utilizing automated enforcement technology, and third-party contractors, according to one person, though the highest-profile violations are typically reviewed by Twitter employees.

San Francisco-based Twitter declined to comment on new limits placed on its content-moderation tools.

Here is why this is a huge problem:

The scaled-back content moderation has raised concerns among employees on Twitter’s Trust and Safety team, who believe the company will be short-handed in enforcing policies in the run-up to the US midterm election on Nov. 8. Trust and Safety employees are often tasked with enforcing Twitter’s misinformation and civic integrity policies — many of the same policies that former President Donald Trump routinely violated before and after the 2020 elections, the company said at the time.

Other employees said they were worried about Twitter rolling back its data access for researchers and academics, and about how it would deal with foreign influence operations under Musk’s leadership.

On Friday and Saturday, Bloomberg reported a surge in hate speech on Twitter. That included a 1,700% spike in the use of a racist slur on the platform, which at its peak appeared 215 times every five minutes, according to data from Dataminr, an official Twitter partner that has access to the entire platform. The Trust and Safety team did not have access to enforce Twitter’s moderation policies during this time, two people said.

If Musk is promising that Twitter won’t become a “free for all hellscape“under his leadership, then this doesn’t help to meet that standard. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Elon Musk is going to drive down the value of Twitter so much due to his poor decision making, that he’ll burn through a ton of cash and it will start to affect his other ventures like Tesla and Space-X. Which means that this will not end well for Musk on multiple fronts.  

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