Is this part of Musk’s “free speech” movement or simply a side-effect of gutting nearly 2/3 of Twitter’s workforce within his first month of taking ownership? Regardless, this is going to advance Twitter’s doomsday clock by another couple minutes.
Twitter’s long-running effort to fight COVID-19 misinformation is at an end, at least for now. As Twitter users and CNN noticed, the social media firm has quietly updated its transparency site to reveal that it stopped enforcing its COVID misinformation policy on November 23rd. It’s not clear if the company will restore any accounts banned for sharing misinformation as part of Elon Musk’s planned amnesty, but this indicates that the company won’t suspend further users or delete content including falsehoods about the coronavirus or vaccines.
The news comes amid reports Twitter is scaling back other teams dedicated to catching toxic behavior. Bloomberg sources claim Musk has gutted the team dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as part of his wide-ranging layoffs, cutting it from roughly 20 specialists to less than 10. The contacts say that the unit was already strained before, but is now “overwhelmed” despite Musk’s assertion that fighting child exploitation is “priority #1.” This could put Twitter in legal jeopardy as it’s frequently required by law to remove CSAM — the UK’s Online Safety Bill lets regulators fine companies if they don’t move quickly to pull offending content.