A Washington Post tech report claimed Tuesday that Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has undermined the platform’s ability to “protect vulnerable communities.”
Written by reporters Cat Zakrzewski, Faiz Siddiqui and Joseph Menn, the piece argued that Musk imposed his will on the company by gutting the “Trust and Safety team” that once used to carefully deliberate and “define dangerous language.”
The piece, headlined “Musk’s ‘free speech’ agenda dismantles safety work at Twitter, insiders say,” suggested he did so callously, mentioning multiple times his decisions made laid off employees cry.
The story cited more than a dozen former and current Twitter employees frustrated with how Musk undid “years of careful work” by reinstating the Twitter accounts of former President Donald Trump, satirical conservative site The Babylon Bee and others deemed threats by the now-defunct Trust and Safety team.
The report added, “Massive layoffs and Musk’s demand that remaining employees pledge to work ‘hardcore’ hours have left one of the world’s most influential social media sites operating with a skeleton staff and experts predicting an eventual crash. Meanwhile, advertisers are fleeing.”
It was then mentioned how the billionaire Tesla CEO leveraged “culture-war issues” to make the company in his own image. The piece said, “Musk has moved rapidly — at times erratically — to undermine a regime built over a decade to define dangerous language on the site and protect vulnerable communities, replacing it with his own more impulsive style of ad hoc decision-making.”
As the article continued, the reporters said they spoke to “more than a dozen current and former employees” who claimed that Musk was able to impose his will on Twitter because he “fired or alienated Trust and Safety team leaders and reversed their decisions.”
Rather than repopulate the team, the piece claimed, “Musk is looking to automate much of the Trust and Safety team’s work to police content — eliminating some of the nuance from complicated decisions for a cheaper approach,” implying that Twitter will make poorer moderation decisions going forward.
The Washington Post reported how, “On his first night as owner, Musk fired its leader of 11 years, former Trust and Safety head Vijaya Gadde.”
Suggesting Musk is insensitive, the report stated that within hours of assuming control of the site, “Gadde’s access to company email and other systems was cut off; she couldn’t even say a formal farewell. At a Halloween party at Twitter headquarters where workers had brought children dressed in costumes, some employees quietly left to go cry.”
Mentioning Musk’s decision to reinstate The Babylon Bee and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, The Post stated, “If the company restored the two accounts without a clear reason, it would undo years of careful work.” It characterized Musk’s decision as a “sudden demand” that was “problematic.”
The piece also described “Black Thursday” – the day on which Musk laid off a big portion of the Trust and Safety team, writing, “As layoff notices went out — first to Asia and Europe, then the United States — a group of longtime Twitter executives huddled together in a conference room and cried.”
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the executive director of an Indian rights group called Equality Labs, after seeing her emails to fired Twitter employers bounce back to her, told the paper, “It is such a dangerous time to have fired the moderators and this team. Twitter has been already in a state of failure, this is just the nail in the coffin.”