Twitter’s senior safety executive has said that election integrity is a “high priority” for the firm, despite the fact that the company has laid off half of its employees in the previous 24 hours. Yoel Roth, Twitter’s director of safety and one of the business officials who survived major layoffs, went to Twitter to dismiss recent moderation concerns expressed by activists and advertisers.
“Yesterday’s force reduction impacted around 15% of our Trust & Safety group (as opposed to over 50% cutbacks company-wide), with our front-line moderation personnel suffering the least effect,” Roth tweeted. “With early voting beginning in the United States, our efforts to ensure election integrity — including combating damaging disinformation that might depress voting and combating state-backed information operations — remain a high priority.”
Roth’s remarks came just hours after the NAACP joined a coalition of activists and civil rights groups in calling on advertisers to stop spending on Twitter. While Musk met with civil rights activists earlier this week, those pushing for a boycott argued the company’s massive layoffs contradicted his vow to keep Twitter’s election protection regulations and hate speech restrictions in place.
Roth, the first Twitter official other than Musk to openly comment on the company’s policy since Musk’s takeover, also attempted to address rumours concerning the effect of employee layoffs on safety.
“We blocked access to our internal tools for select users, including some members of my team, last week for security concerns,” he said. “The majority of the 2,000+ content moderators working on front-line review were unaffected, and access will be completely restored in the coming days,” the company said. While most of Roth’s Trust and Safety team was spared, many other teams whose work with safety problems were not.
According to NBC News, Twitter’s curation staff, which sought to combat disinformation on the network, was completely eliminated. Many engineering positions dealing with safety concerns were also eliminated, as were many personnel in policy and communications.
Musk said on Friday that the layoffs were necessary. “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately, there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” he tweeted, adding that staff were given three months of severance pay. “Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged.”