Twitter struggles with fake news after staff cuts | News, Sports, Jobs

Twitter is struggling to respond to political misinformation and other harmful posts on the social media platform after Elon Musk laid off about half of its workforce days before the US midterm elections, according to employees who survived the cuts and an outside voting rights group.

The recent mass layoffs have spared many people whose job it is to keep hate and misinformation away from the social media platform. Musk cut just 15% of those frontline content moderation workers, compared to about 50% job cuts companywide, an executive said last week.

But in preparation for the layoffs, employees said the company also drastically reduced the number of employees who can view the digital history and behavior of a specific account — a practice necessary to investigate its misuse and take action. measures to suspend it. The company said it froze access to these tools to reduce “internal risk” at a time of transition.

The developments raise concerns as the US midterm elections culminate on Tuesday. Although millions of Americans have already voted in advance and by mail, millions more are expected to go to the polls to vote in person. Election monitors fear the platform is ill-equipped to handle hate speech, misinformation that could impact voter safety, and actors seeking to cast doubt on legitimate election winners across the world. country.

On Friday, researchers monitoring misinformation ahead of midterms informed Twitter of three posts by well-known far-right figures who made debunked claims of voter fraud. The messages remain in place three days later. When Common Cause asked Twitter for an update on Monday, the platform said the posts were “in the study.”

Before Musk took over, Twitter responded much faster, said Jesse Littlewood, vice president of campaigns at Common Cause. The group said they were in regular contact with Twitter staff before Musk took over. Now they get a response from a generic email address.

“We got much faster decisions from them, sometimes within hours,” said Littlewood. Now, he said, “It’s like pressing the button on the run panel at the stop light, and nothing happens.”

Musk gutted the teams working on marketing, communications and editorial curation about what people see on Twitter. But his decision to retain most of Twitter’s content moderation team came as a welcome surprise to some inside and outside the company. Musk, after all, promised to let free speech flourish by easing Twitter’s content restrictions and restoring accounts banned for breaking those rules. He also pledged to end the current user verification system in favor of a $7.99 subscription fee.

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