The cutbacks appeared to impact the majority of employees whose job was to protect Twitter from being overwhelmed by banned content like hateful behavior and harassment targeted at specific individuals, as per six former and one current Twitter employee who was aware of the cutbacks. Mass reductions in staff on Twitter on Friday have harmed the departments that are in charge of making sure the platform is free of false information, which could limit Twitter’s capabilities just only four days prior to the close of the midterm elections. One present, as well as six ex-Twitter employees with knowledge of the cutbacks, told NBC News. Five of whom were recently dismissed. A pair of ex-Twitter employees and a current employee has warned that the sackings could cause chaos during the election because they are particularly damaging to teams that are responsible for the curation of topics that are trending and for the engineering component that is “user health,” which handles content moderation as well as the integrity of websites. Seven people requested to remain anonymous because of fear of the repercussions of their profession and also because they were not legally authorized to speak on behalf of the company. Twitter hasn’t announced any policy changes regarding moderation, and earlier this week, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s chief of integrity and safety, said the company would remain vigilant against attempts to alter conversations around the midterm elections. Musk has declared that Twitter will not permit anyone to return to Twitter who was previously banned for a minimum of two weeks. Twitter starts to lay off employees following Elon Musk’s acquisition. The Twitter curation team, comprised of a variety of roles throughout the platform, such as coordinating the creation and dissemination of events that were intended to challenge misconceptions, appears to be gone, according to one source. The team has recently posted an explanation about the way it attempted to ensure that information was accurate and objective. Andrew Haigh, a London-based curator, announced in Twitter on Twitter that his group “is no more.” “Unfortunately, the platform’s history of transparency and supporting research may be just that: history,” said Kate Starbird, a professor of engineering and design at the University of Washington who studies the spread of misinformation.
Starbird stated that it remains to be determined how false information about the midterms could be impacting.
“We were already expecting a surge in rumors and disinformation around the election, even before Musk taking the reins,” she added.
a Two former and one current employee also expressed concern about a proposed product that will allow Twitter users to purchase verification badges. It could depend on the guidelines surrounding the program, permit anyone to disseminate information from authentic-looking accounts or to use fake identities to impersonate officials from elections or public figures when the votes are recorded and counted during midterm elections, the sources said.
Musk had said he would enable verification on the site, which was previously used to verify the identity of celebrities as well as public officials, available for purchase for just $8. Bloomberg stated that sources within Musk’s company told Bloomberg that the intention is to release the feature by Monday. NBC News has not verified this report.
Two former and one current employee, who was laid off as part of those thousands of cuts announced on Friday morning, told the newspaper that they were concerned about the feature and said they couldn’t find any significant enforcers to make sure those who have the verification checks are who they claim they are.
The new feature may allow users to pretend to be political or public officials and then disseminate false information as the results are announced.
“That’s exactly the problem,” stated a Twitter employee who was still at the company, stating that at present, “Elon literally has no plans to stop that.”
A Twitter person who got fired on Friday hinted that the plan could not be ready in time since there is only a “skeleton crew” of engineers remaining at the company, so it’s not technically feasible. The Twitter employee stated that as one of those laid off, their idea was “there’s not going to be any verification of I.D.” for obtaining a verification badge.
The deportation of teams that are core to Twitter’s moderation, security, and trust efforts, along with the updated verification process, has the potential to transform one of the world’s most central information centers just days prior to the U.S. midterm elections end. The spread of false information and threats to violence remains an issue with social media sites; in addition, U.S. law enforcement is already on alert for conflict driven by conspiracy.
“What I think we saw is a little preview of what Twitter is like without the trust and safety team having access to the tools that they need to do their jobs,” she explained. “I think that’s only a preview of what we’ll see if the trust and safety team either is gutted or just doesn’t exist.”