Twitter insiders say that users are no longer protected from trolling, disinformation and child expectations following Musk’s take over as CEO, as accounts following misogynistic and abusive accounts have spiked.
In a BBC panorama report, both current and former employees of the company have explained that the social media platform’s protection features have been difficult to maintain amid a “chaotic working environment.”
BBC Disinformation and social media correspondent Marianna Spring spoke with Twitter’s former head of design Lisa Jennings Young to discuss the matter. According to Jennings Young, who resigned last November, safety measures such as nudge buttons, which reduced trolling by 60%, have been sacked.
During her time as the head of content design, Jennings Young’s team developed several app safety features such as the safety mode, the “harmful reply nudge” that alerts users before they send a potentially harmful tweet, and labels that were applied to misleading tweets.
"It was not at all perfect. But we were trying, and we were making things better all the time," she explained. Since Musk took over, Jennings Young’s whole team was laid off and convincing her to leave the company eventually.
Spring also revealed that the hate and targeted abuse she received on the social media platform had tripled since Musk’s reign compared to a year before, according to a team from the International Center for Journalists and University of Sheffield.
“But throughout most of last year I noticed it steadily lessening across all of the social media sites. And then in November I realized it had got worse on Twitter again,” she wrote.
The journalist visited Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco to speak with an engineer who refused to be named. According to the employee, the events from the inside were “like a building where all the pieces are on fire.”
"When you look at it from the outside, the façade looks fine, but I can see that nothing is working. All the plumbing is broken, all the faucets, everything,” he added.
The engineer attributed the management’s downfall to a “huge disruption in staffing,” with over half of the company’s total workforce being slashed by more than half since Musk became CEO, and several employees choosing to leave on their own.
"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," said the engineer.
Over the past four months, Twitter has seen major changes under Musk’s supervision. The company had undergone another round of layoffs just last week, with an estimated 200 employees finding out they were laid off by losing access to their work emails.
The week before, several employees reported losing access to their work Slack and Jira as it went “routine maintenance,” prompting them to take the days off. However, according to a Slack employee, no such maintenance was conducted.