Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, is further lowering the number of people who combat disinformation on the social media network, with contract moderators finding over the weekend that they are no longer employed.
Twitter and other large social media companies have primarily depended on third-party contractors to monitor hate speech and enforce rules against damaging content. But many of these content monitors have now left the company, first when Twitter fired a large portion of its full-time workers by email on November 4, and now as the company eliminates an untold number of contract positions.
Melissa Ingle, who worked as a contractor for Twitter for more than a year, was among a number of contractors who reported being fired on Saturday. She expressed fear that the number of departing employees will lead to an increase in online harassment on Twitter.
“I adore the platform, and I thoroughly loved working for the firm and attempting to improve it. And I’m simply terrified about what will slip through the cracks “she stated Sunday.
Ingle, a data scientist, stated that she worked on Twitter’s civic integrity team’s data and monitoring arm. Her role entailed creating algorithms to identify political falsehoods on the site in the United States, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, and other nations.
Saturday, when Ingle was unable to access her work email, she was “very confident I was finished.” Two hours later, she received notification from the contracting company that she had been recruited.
She stated, “I’ll be distributing my resumes and chatting to folks.” “I have two offspring. And I’m concerned about being able to offer them a lovely Christmas, as well as other banal but essential matters. I believe it is especially callous to do this at this time.”
Content-moderation expert Sarah Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who worked as a staff researcher at Twitter earlier this year, believes that at least 3,000 contract employees were terminated on Saturday night.
Twitter has not disclosed how many contract employees it laid off. Since Musk took charge, the corporation has not replied to media demands for information.
At the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco and other offices, contract employees wore green badges while full-time employees wore blue badges. Roberts stated that contractors performed a variety of tasks to keep Twitter operational, including engineering and marketing. Roberts stated that the vast force of outsourced moderators was “mission-critical” to the site.
She stated that eliminating them will have a “tangible impact on the platform’s experience.”
When he took over Twitter, Musk pledged to ease limits on speech. In the early days after Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in late October and fired its board of directors and top executives, however, the billionaire Tesla CEO sought to reassure civil rights groups and advertisers that the network would continue to combat hate and violence fueled by hatred.
This message was echoed by Twitter’s former head of content moderation, Yoel Roth, who wrote that the November 4 layoffs only affected “15% of our Trust & Safety department (compared to about 50% company-wide losses), with our front-line moderation personnel suffering the most.”
Musk warns of potential insolvency
Roth has subsequently left from the corporation, following the flight of senior executives charged with privacy protection, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance. Chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty, and chief information security officer Lea Kissner have left Twitter.
In a live-streamed conversation on Twitter Spaces on November 9, Musk attempted to reassure advertisers, who have been fleeing Twitter due to an increase in hate speech since he assumed control of the company and fired its top executives late last month.
MoneyWatch: Twitter reports of insolvency fears at 05:44
Advertisers like the manufacturer of Oreos, Mondelez, Allianz, Audi, General Mills, GM, United Airlines, and Pfizer have suspended their ads on the platform, causing a severe cash crunch for the company. We anticipate more to follow.
Musk advised Twitter employees on Thursday to prepare for “tough times ahead” and cautioned that the firm could go bankrupt if it does not discover new revenue streams.
Confusion regarding check boxes
Twitter added a gray “official” checkmark to select social media accounts on November 9 to indicate that the business had confirmed the user’s identity. Musk abandoned the concept within hours after concluding that it would exacerbate Twitter’s dual-class system issue.
On the same day, Twitter’s original system of using blue checks to confirm an account’s authenticity was replaced with a $8 monthly plan through which enrolled users would receive blue checks next to their accounts and gain access to bonus features, such as fewer advertisements and the ability to have tweets gain greater visibility.
Experts voiced instant worry that making the checkmark accessible to anybody willing to pay a fee could increase the number of imposter accounts, false information, and scams on Twitter.
As users test or exploit Twitter’s new system, there has been a rise in purportedly verified accounts posing as celebrities like LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, politicians like former President George W. Bush, and even huge corporations like Eli Lilly. One Twitter user with the handle @Jesus obtained a blue checkmark as well.
In response to the rise in imposter accounts, Twitter reversed course on Friday and reinstated the gray indicator for some accounts.