Tesla CEO Elon Musk started laying off Twitter employees responsible for content moderation on Nov. 4, 2022.
Following an internal email on Nov. 3, 2022, many Twitter employees found themselves logged out of their work computers and removed from the company’s Slack workspace. On Nov. 4, 2022, ex-staffers flooded Twitter with tweets.
New service to replace content moderators?
According to Forbes, even remaining content moderation employees could not access critical tools. Revoking access to these tools has raised concerns about the potential for platform abuse during the upcoming midterm elections. Despite its small user base of $250 million, Twitter’s impact on politics and news is outsized.
Earlier this month, Musk announced a new paid verification service where users can pay $8 per month to use Twitter with fewer ads. It will also be possible to edit tweets, and users will get priority in mentions and searches.
What will concern many high-profile users is that the company does not have a way to prevent impersonators from pretending to be famous people.
Political opposition drives down revenues
Many companies, including food company General Mills, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and Volkswagen’s Audi, have responded to the Musk takeover by pausing their Twitter marketing campaign. Some have said that they are worried that Musk would reduce content moderation efforts, making it easier to post questionable content. Others have said they are concerned about the company’s operations after Musk fired several key executives. Twitter already offers brands the opportunity to make sure that their marketing content is not seen near content they deem objectionable.
Billionaire and bitcoin advocate Cameron Winklevoss has criticized companies’ withdrawal from the platform, saying that it shows that companies favor a platform that censors content based on political agendas.
Musk tweeted earlier on Nov. 4, 2022, that activist groups put pressure advertisers to pull out and that content moderation was unaffected, despite the layoffs.
In response to the advertisers bowing to political pressure, Musk has a Twitter poll on his feed, asking whether advertisers should support political correctness or free speech. At press time, respondents had voted overwhelmingly for free speech. Furthermore, Musk plans to allow users to curate their Twitter feeds and has proposed creating the equivalent of a PG-like feed that advertisers can target.
Musk moves in line with libertarian ideals
So far, it seems like Musk is changing Twitter to be an apolitical platform for free speech without disrupting its core revenue model. Accordingly, this pivot marks a win for the libertarian ideals that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies stand for.
Also, Musk has promoted meme cryptocurrency Dogecoin and is rumored to be the largest Doge holder in the world. After Musk’s takeover, Dogecoin’s price pumped. At press time, the coin is trading at $0.1248, down about 83% from an all-time high of $0.73.
It remains to be seen whether the paid-verification subscription service will result in a slew of famous people being impersonated. Impersonations could worry those in the crypto space since scammers have create bogus profiles of Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin promoting fake XRP airdrops and other scams. To this concern, Musk responded that this already happens on the platform but that offending users would be dealt with accordingly.
Hopefully, Musk is telling the truth about content moderation despite the recent layoffs. Otherwise, it’s difficult to see how the company would identify offending users. The paid-verification subscription service will launch on Nov. 7, 2022.
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