Twitter’s Moderation System Is in Tatters

November 17, 2022

Even before Twitter cut some 4,400 contract workers on November 12, the platform was showing signs of strain. After Elon Musk bought the company and laid off 7,500 full time employees, disinformation researchers and activists say, the team that took down toxic and fake content vanished. Now, after years of developing relationships within those teams, researchers say no one is responding to their reports of disinformation on the site, even as data suggests Twitter is becoming more toxic.

The issue is particularly acute in Brazil, where a runoff presidential election between right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took place just days after Musk’s takeover. Observers and activists had warned for months that Bolsonaro’s supporters might not accept the results of the election should he lose, and could resort to violence. When Bolsonaro supporters began questioning the election results online, researchers found that Twitter had apparently fired all the people who should be monitoring the platform...

Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics at George Washington University, also expects to see Twitter’s defenses against banned content wither. “Twitter has always struggled with this, but a number of talented teams had made real progress on these problems in recent months. Those teams have now been wiped out.”

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