In addition to removing Twitter’s CEO, CFO, and the head of its legal department last week, Elon Musk has also reduced the number of employees with access to Twitter’s censorship tools from hundreds to 15 according to people familiar with the situation. The move comes a week ahead of the highly anticipated midterm elections on November 8th.
Musk has frozen many employees’ ability to censor or moderate content and has limited their ability to enforce other policies as well. According to Bloomberg, much of the Twitter staff no longer has the ability to “alter or penalize accounts that break rules around misleading information, offensive posts and hate speech.”
It has been reported by Bloomberg that the reason for freezing employees’ access to certain parts of the software code is to prevent them from making changes to the platform during the transition to new ownership under Musk.
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In his first week as the owner of the social media platform, Musk has already focused his attention on many of the company’s questionable policies and rules and has requested that they be reviewed by the team. One such policy that is being called into question is Twitter’s misinformation policy.
The policy as it currently stands penalizes posts that contain misinformation about certain topics including election outcomes and information about Covid-19. Just last month this policy was responsible for Twitter blocking the Florida Surgeon General’s warning about certain Covid-19 vaccines. Musk is looking to make the policy more specific.
Musk has also requested a review of the hateful conduct policy, specifically the portion that states that accounts can be penalized for “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
While Musk focuses on bringing changes to Twitter, what is left of the staff has been focused on responding to what Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, has called a “focused, short-term trolling campaign.” Roth said, “Since Saturday, we’ve been focused on addressing the surge in hateful conduct on Twitter. We’ve made measurable progress, removing more than 1,500 accounts and reducing impressions on this content to nearly zero.”
With the November midterms a week away, Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the restriction of employees’ moderating and censorship privileges, couldn’t have come at a better time. It will be interesting to see how the return of free speech to Twitter will influence the election over the coming week.