Twitter Loses Two Executives in Charge of Trust and Safety - Digital Ratha
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Twitter Loses Two Executives in Charge of Trust and Safety

Twitter Loses Two Executives in Charge of Trust and Safety

Despite the repeated claims of Twitter that hate speech and abuse, along with the negative brand exposure risk, have reduced since Elon Musk took over the app, the signs coming out of Twitter HQ continue to suggest the opposite.

This week, Twitter lost two executives in charge of trust and safety at the platform, both of whom had been vocal supporters of Elon’s ‘free speech’ reformation.

The departures resulted from Musk’s overruling of the Twitter team’s decision to restrict the promotion of a documentary about gender transition and the emerging ‘gender ideology movement’.

As per various reports, Twitter had initially offered to host an exclusive premiere of the documentary, titled ‘What is a Woman?’, which would include paid promotion of the project.

But after reviewing the content of the video, The trust and safety execs of Twitter opted to pull back from the deal due to concerns that it could be viewed as hate speech based, specifically, on its content around misgendering.

Elon Musk has always been an outspoken critic of gender affirmation, particularly gender transition surgery for youngsters. And when he was directly questioned about Twitter’s decision to distance itself from the documentary, Musk stepped in to overturn the team’s approach and implement more lax rules around the same.

Not only that, but Musk also re-tweeted the documentary to his 141 million followers and pinned it to the top of his profile for maximum exposure.

The back and forth caused a significant rift within the brand safety team of Twitter, and both Ella Irwin, the head of trust and safety at the platform, and AJ Brown, the chief of brand safety, have since left the company for good.

Irwin, in particular, had become a key spokesperson for Twitter 2.0, as Musk’s changes prompted anxiety and concern among all the ad partners on Twitter.

Irwin was tasked with reassuring brands and maintaining advertiser trust, but Twitter ad revenue declining by 50% since the takeover has clearly stated that Irwin was already facing an uphill battle.

Musk continues to reform the rules based on his ideology. He also oversees the reinstatement and restoration of former users who had been banned from social media networks for spreading hate speech, misinformation, and worse.

The challenges before the brand safety team of Twitter remain significant, and these latest departures will do little to calm already concerned parties who are still aligned with the platform.

Add to this the fact that Twitter is now forcing brands to pay for Twitter Blue to even advertise in the app, and it does seem like a hard sell, so it is not a big surprise to see even more Twitter executives departing from Twitter.

So what does that mean for brand safety on the platform?

Well, it is not a good thing. Irwin and Brown were experienced operators that had been with Twitter for some time, and the loss of their expertise will be felt as the company continues to be reshaped in the image of Musk.

Then again, with new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino coming in shortly. It might be a big shake-up on the cards either way.

It will add to Yaccarino’s challenge in reassuring ad partners that the new way forward for Musk’s app is a positive step and will not increase the risk of negative exposure.

The available evidence around the rise, or not, of hate speech in the app remains inconclusive, with external reports suggesting that hate speech is on the rise via tweet, while Musk and his team say that it is being reduced.

Much of that comes down to the methodology applied, but the fact that Twitter keeps losing the staff in charge of representing it on this element does indicate that even they are not confident that it is taking the right action.

Every brand will have to make its own decision on the potential risks. But the indicators could be better, depending on your view of Elon’s approach.

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