LONDON: A BBC investigation revealed on Monday that Twitter lacks the resources to ensure users’ safety.
Speaking to BBC Panorama, Twitter insiders expressed concern about the dramatic restructuring of the company following Elon Musk’s takeover.
Current and former employees claimed that the company is no longer able to protect users from trolling, state-coordinated disinformation and child sexual exploitation, following lay-offs and changes under the new owner’s leadership.
The report highlights how since October 2022, hate speech, misogyny, disinformation, conspiracies and abusive content have seen a steep increase on the platform.
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue think tank said the number of identified accounts following misogynistic and abusive profiles had risen by 69 percent over the last five months, evidence of the “permissive environment” favored by Musk’s new policies.
Multiple sources argued that Twitter’s huge disruption in staffing has created a chaotic environment that employees are trying to navigate, adding that teams are having to shift their focus to cover roles left vacant.
“For someone on the inside, it’s like a building where all the pieces are on fire,” one of the sources said.
“A totally new person, without the expertise, is doing what used to be done by more than 20 people. That leaves room for much more risk, many more possibilities of things that can go wrong.”
Twitter’s former head of content design, Lisa Jennings Young, affirmed that prior to the takeover, the company was making “good headway” at limiting trolling on the platform.
“It was not at all perfect. But we were trying, and we were making things better all the time,” she said.
Ray Serrato, a former Twitter worker who tackled state-sponsored disinformation, said that the team he used to work for had been “decimated” and only has minimized capacity today.
He said: “Twitter might have been the refuge where journalists would go out and have their voice be heard and be critical of the government. But I’m not sure that’s going to be the case anymore.
“There are a number of key experts that are no longer in that team that would have covered special regions, or threat actors, from Russia to China.”
Early on Monday, Musk hit back at the report with mockery and sarcasm, posting a tweet on his page saying he was sorry “for turning Twitter from nurturing paradise into place that has…trolls.”
He also reacted to a user who claimed that before Musk’s takeover of the platform, he had never been the target of online abuse.
“It was a beautiful utopia. Now I fear for my life daily,” the user said.
In response, Musk wrote: “Literally roflmao.”