Mass layoffs at Twitter came after billionaire Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover of the company
Mass layoffs at Twitter got here after billionaire Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the corporate.

Twitter’s new proprietor Elon Musk has pledged the platform is not going to devolve right into a “free-for-all hellscape,” however specialists warn that mass layoffs could deeply impair the social community’s potential to curb misinformation.

Twitter on Friday fired roughly half of its 7,500-strong workforce, solely days earlier than subsequent week’s midterm elections in the US, when a spike in faux content material is anticipated throughout social media.

The cuts, which come after Musk’s blockbuster $44 million buyout of the corporate, hit a number of divisions, together with belief and security groups that handle content material moderation in addition to engineering and machine studying, US reviews stated.

“I might be actual cautious on this platform within the coming days… about what you retweet, who you observe, and even your individual sense of what is going on on,” stated Kate Starbird, a disinformation researcher and assistant professor on the College of Washington.

Starbird warned in her personal Twitter put up of an elevated threat of “impersonation” makes an attempt, “coordinated disinformation by manipulators” and “hoaxes that try and get you to unfold falsehoods.”

Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief govt officer on the nonpartisan group Free Press, stated she was involved that Twitter’s content-moderation efforts might probably slacken previous to the election, “once we know social media goes off the rails to misinform, intimidate and hurt voters of colour.”

“Twitter was already a hellscape earlier than Musk took over, and his actions… will solely make it worse,” stated Gonzalez.

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity, sought to appease these issues, saying the platform’s front-line moderation employees had been least impacted by the cuts and combating dangerous misinformation in the course of the midterms was a “prime precedence.”

“Whereas we stated goodbye to extremely gifted associates and colleagues… our core moderation capabilities stay in place,” Roth tweeted.

‘Deeply troubling’

Free Press is a part of a coalition of greater than 60 civil society teams that on Friday referred to as on advertisers to boycott the platform till it dedicated to being a “secure place.”

Members of the coalition met with Musk earlier this week after educational research reported a dramatic enhance in hate speech, Nazi memes and racist slurs after his acquisition of the corporate.

One examine by Montclair State College discovered that Twitter’s acquisition by Musk, a self-professed free-speech absolutist, had “created the notion by extremist customers that content material restrictions can be alleviated.”

“We met with Elon Musk earlier this week to specific our profound issues about a few of his plans and the spike in poisonous content material after his acquisition,” stated the coalition, which makes use of the hashtag “Cease Poisonous Twitter.”

“Since that point, hate and disinformation have continued to proliferate, and Musk has taken actions that make us concern that the worst is but to return,” the group stated in an announcement.

However Musk rejected that evaluation, tweeting that “we’ve truly seen hateful speech at instances this week decline *under* our prior norms,” although he provided up no information to again up this assertion.

“To be crystal clear, Twitter’s robust dedication to content material moderation stays completely unchanged,” Musk wrote on Friday.

Musk had promised to cut back Twitter’s content material restrictions, and because the acquisition has introduced plans to create a “content material moderation council” that can evaluation firm insurance policies.

“Whereas Musk has publicly dedicated to transparency, his resolution to put off the employees members devoted to this work is deeply troubling,” stated Zeve Sanderson, govt director of the New York College’s Middle for Social Media and Politics.

Musk insisted that the layoffs had been obligatory as the corporate was dropping greater than $4 million per day.

Twitter has lengthy struggled to generate revenue and has did not maintain tempo with Fb, Instagram and TikTok in gaining new customers.

© 2022 AFP

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