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Twitter team responsible for removing child exploitation on site cut in half since Musk takeover, report claims

Musk declared removing child exploitation “priority 1” just a week ago

Richard Hall
Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:50 GMT
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<p>Elon Musk attends Heidi Klum’s 21st Annual Halloween Party presented by Now Screaming x Prime Video and Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur at Sake No Hana at Moxy Lower East Side on 31 October 2022 in New York City</p>

Elon Musk attends Heidi Klum’s 21st Annual Halloween Party presented by Now Screaming x Prime Video and Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur at Sake No Hana at Moxy Lower East Side on 31 October 2022 in New York City

The team at Twitter responsible for removing child sexual abuse content from the site has been cut in half since Elon Musk took over the company, according to reports.

Mr Musk, who bought the social media company for $44 billion in October, declared in a tweet just last week that “[r]emoving child exploitation is priority #1.”

Now, two separate reports suggest that the global team of experts responsible for tackling child exploitation on the site is now overwhelmed following massive cutbacks across the company.

The team now has fewer than 10 people to review reports of child sexual exploitation, Bloomberg reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. At the beginning of the year, that team was 20 people, it added.

A separate report in Wired said that just one person remained on a “key team dedicated to removing child sexual abuse content from the site” in Singapore. The report, which cited two people familiar with the matter, said that the team would have been responsible for enforcing the company’s ban on child sex abuse material in the entire Asia Pacific region — one of the platform’s busiest markets.

The reported reduction in those teams is likely to deepen a growing crisis for the company as advertisers flee the site due to concerns over a lack of content moderation. Advertising is a key source of revenue for Twitter, and was responsible for some 90 per cent of its $5bn revenue last year. But more than a third of its top advertisers have paused spending in the wake of Mr Musk’s takeover amid concerns of an influx of extremist and racist content that coincided with his tenure.

Twitter has lost around 5,000 of its more than 7,000 employees since Mr Musk’s takeover in late October, mostly through firings but also including resignations. The company said in an internal email to staff that the cuts were “unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward”.

The Independent has requested comment from Twitter.

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