The billionaire owner of the social media platform has fired thousands of people across Twitter ahead of reported plans that he will launch Twitter’s new verification subscription plan just before the election.
TTwitter has many employeesThe platform’s midterm elections monitors have lost their jobs as a result of massive layoffs by Elon Musk. Sources in the know say that those who remain claim they don’t have access to key tools necessary for content moderation, but others are claiming they still do. SME.
As part of his takeover of Twitter, Musk dramatically slashed the company’s workforce on Friday, just days before the 2022 midterm elections. The employees received notice Thursday night advising them that they would get notification the following day stating whether they are still employed. Numerous former employees were informed. SMEBefore receiving an official email, they had their computers locked and all work-related accounts blocked. This morning Twitter exploded with reports from staffers who’d been sacked as part of Musk’s takeover.
Musk is said to be planning on launching paid verification starting November 7th, where everyone can participate pay $8To receive a checkmark beside their name, According to the New York Times documents, there are no plans at the moment for any verification measures that would verify subscribers. This measure is critical to prevent impersonation of high-profile users. Users who are already verified won’t lose their checkmark for months, reports say. Twitter’s edit button, which previously was only available to Twitter Blue subscribers, could be free and open to all as soon as next week, Bloomberg reports.
“The timing of Twitter Blue verification and the edit button is already a huge risk, even without half the team gone.”
This, along with layoffs for employees who monitor conversations on Twitter and election safety could cause Twitter to be less trusted for those looking for information about Election Day. “The timing of Twitter Blue verification and the edit button is already a huge risk, even without half the team gone,” one person with knowledge of the company’s election efforts told SME.
The person expressed cautious optimism that the remainder of their team would be able manage the elections safely and smoothly due to automated systems and processes already in place. “Even with all this noise we’re still in better shape relative to the 2020 election in many ways,” they said.
Twitter didn’t immediately reply to the comment request.
Katie Harbath was a Meta former public policy director and managed the team that handled managing elections. SME she was alarmed at the limitations abruptly placed on Twitter’s elections arm and the potential to miss problematic trends at such a high-stakes moment in politics. She expressed concern about misinformation and disinformation threats that will be made after Election Day.
“More groups are trying to push the boundaries of what they can and cannot say… so you could end up having more mis- or disinfo get through, particularly after Election Day,” she told SME. She added that she’s “worried about the potential of violence and just wrong information for people about where/when/how to vote.”
While Twitter has a relatively small audience of approximately 250 million compared to Meta’s social media platforms, which boast over a billion users each, it has an outsized influence on politics and news.
Vote.org has enlisted the help of internet celebrities to mobilize American voters. SMEThis election cycle, Twitter has been the largest driver for registrations via social media. “For some of the larger influencers, when they tweet, we definitely see a barrage of registrations come through,” said CEO Andrea Hailey, noting that in the social media era, Twitter is the platform where this type of information has lived.
Twitter was used by Republican politicians to make false claims that Trump had stolen the 2020 election. bannedFrom Twitter following the January 6th Insurrection. Musk has promoted a right-wing conspiracy in connection to the attack against Paul Pelosi.
Twitter’s new management made deep cuts across the entire company. Members of the company’s curation team, which was responsible for managing trending topics and “highlighting and contextualizing” news events, took to the platform to say that their entire team had been laid off. Members of the company’s AI ethics team said the same.
Some users have been verified already. changed their names to Elon Musk to illustrate one of the problems inherent to allowing anyone to pay for a blue checkmark — that it will encourage the impersonation of high-profile people, adding to the potential for greater spread of misinformation.
“There are really pernicious forces happening on the platform that have a real material effect and the harm associated with them can extend off the platform,” said Edward Perez, who formerly led the product team that included Twitter’s civic integrity operation. “I’m not convinced Elon Musk fully understands that.”
Others worry that Musk’s enthusiasm could overwhelm other possible threats to Election Day.
“Is that us taking our eye off the ball of the bigger picture?” said Harbath, the former Meta elections lead, noting the enormity of the online ecosystem that can affect the midterms. “A lot of advertising is happening on streaming services where we have no ad transparency, whatsoever, to understand what they’re doing and [who] they can be microtargeting.”
“Twitter is an important platform, yes, but it is certainly not the only platform,” she added, “and it is not the one that a lot of people who are day-to-day regular voters are paying attention to.”
Reporting by John Paczkowski, David Jeans.
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