Twitter removes outsourced content moderators as Musk further guts misinformation team – National


New Twitter owner Elon Musk is further gutting teams fighting misinformation on the social media platform as outsourced moderators learned over the weekend that they were out of work.

Twitter and other major social media companies have relied heavily on contractors to track hate and enforce rules against harmful content.

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But many of those content watchdogs have now walked out the door, first when Twitter laid off much of its full-time email workforce on Nov. 4 and now as it strives to eliminating countless contract jobs.

Melissa Ingle, who worked at Twitter as a contractor for more than a year, was one of several contractors who said they were laid off on Saturday. She said she feared there would be an increase in abuse on Twitter with the number of workers leaving.

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« I love the platform and I’ve really enjoyed working in the business and trying to make it better. And I’m really scared of what’s going to slip through the cracks, » she said on Sunday.

Ingle, a data scientist, said she works on the data and monitoring arm of Twitter’s civic integrity team. His job was to write algorithms to find political disinformation on the platform in countries like the United States, Brazil, Japan, Argentina and elsewhere.

Click to play the video: 'The changing landscape of social media'

The changing landscape of social media

Ingle said she was « pretty sure I was screwed » when she couldn’t access her work email on Saturday. Notification from the contracting company she had been hired by came two hours later.

« I’m just going to put my resume out there and talk to people, » she said. “I have two children. And I worry about being able to give them a good Christmas, you know, and just mundane things like that, which are important. I just think it’s particularly ruthless to do that right now.

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Content moderation expert Sarah Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who worked as a researcher at Twitter earlier this year, said she believes at least 3,000 contract workers were laid off as of Saturday. evening.

Twitter did not specify the number of contract employees removed. The company has not responded to media inquiries since Musk took over.

At Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and other offices, contract workers wore green badges while full-time workers wore blue badges. The contractors did a number of jobs to help run Twitter, including engineering and marketing, Roberts said. But it was the enormous strength of contracted moderators that was “mission critical” to the platform, Roberts said.

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Cutting them will have a « tangible impact on the platform experience, » she said.

Musk promised to ease speech restrictions when he took over Twitter. But in the early days after Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October and fired its board and top executives, Tesla’s billionaire CEO sought to assure civil rights groups and advertisers that the platform could continue to suppress hate and hate-fueled violence. .

This message was echoed by Twitter’s head of content moderation, Yoel Roth, who tweeted that the November 4 layoffs only affected « 15% of our Trust & Safety organization (compared to around 50% cuts at the company-wide), with our frontline moderation staff experiencing the least impact.

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Roth has since resigned from the company, joining an exodus of high-level executives responsible for privacy, cybersecurity and regulatory compliance.

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