Twitter was already rushing for mid-sessions.  Now comes Musk.

Twitter was already rushing for mid-sessions. Now comes Musk.


With less than two weeks to go before the midterm elections, about 20 Twitter employees have volunteered to help the social network’s in-house “Election Squad” enforce its rules at a crucial time for American politics. In accelerated training sessions this week, volunteers learned the basics of spotting election misinformation, spotting propaganda bots, and reporting potential violations of Twitter’s rules to the company’s political staff.

Since 2018, the call for volunteers has been part of a comprehensive approach to major elections, as the company’s overwhelmed content moderators work around the clock for a week before and after the vote to stem the tide of viral lies , intimidation campaigns and foreign influence operations.

But this election cycle, the company is in greater disarray than ever, raising the risk that cautious political operatives could use the platform to mislead voters or undermine the legitimacy of the results. Twitter has gone through a year of managerial chaos since a CEO change, hundreds of employees have reportedly left and a high-level whistleblower has warned that the company lacks the resources to enforce its own election policies globally.

Adding to the uncertainty, billionaire Elon Musk is expected to complete his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter by Friday. He said he would roll back Twitter’s content moderation efforts, reinstate some of its most notorious vendors of election lies and fire up to 75% of its workforce. How his changes will affect Twitter’s medium-term plan is unknown.

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“Given the rapid growth in the scale of misinformation since 2020, it’s reasonable to doubt they can keep pace,” said Eddie Perez, former chief product officer for civic integrity at Twitter., which includes its electoral policies. Perez is now a board member of the OSET Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to election security and integrity.

Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough confirmed the call for volunteers ahead of midterms and said the company had done the same before in the 2020 US presidential election as well as the recent elections in Brazil. .

“People use Twitter to find reliable, real-time election information, and our investment in this work underscores how seriously we take that responsibility,” Rosborough said.

Musk did not respond to The Post’s request for comment. on what it will do in its first days of ownership. He traveled to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco on Wednesday to speak with executives and is expected to address employees on Friday. Since launching his takeover bid, he has consistently criticized the company for what he sees as an overly censored approach to online speech.

Musk also suggested he could lift the company’s ban on former President Donald Trump, whose erratic tweets were capable of rewriting the country’s political agenda at any time.

Twitter can’t afford to be one of the most influential websites in the world

From the Arab Spring and the Trump Presidency to #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, Twitter has played a pivotal role in global politics that belies the company’s relatively small size compared to rivals such as Meta and Alphabet. Like its rivals, Twitter began investing more in content moderation following revelations in 2017 of Russian influence campaigns that were using social platforms to stoke societal strife in the United States ahead of the 2016 presidential election. She appealed to the zeal of her employees to “protect the conversation” around major political events.

Yet he often seemed overwhelmed by the hordes of robots and the rate at which lies can ricochet off his platform.

Midterms have been particularly tricky for social media platforms such as Twitter, in part because hundreds of GOP candidates have embraced former President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen. These candidates and their supporters have taken to social media to spread election-rigging conspiracies.

The stakes for Twitter’s decisions are high. Experts have said such misinformation on social media could erode Americans’ confidence in the electoral process. And companies must make tough decisions about what content to leave or remove during a campaign season in which control of the House and Senate is up for grabs.

In August, Twitter announced a Mid-term plan 2022 that largely mimicked the strategies deployed by the company in previous election cycles, including promoting accurate information about the election while suppressing the reach of misinformation. Twitter said it would apply misinformation labels or remove posts that undermine trust in the electoral process, including claims in 2020 that the election was rigged.

The company previously backed down on this so-called ‘civic integrity’ policy after the end of the 2020 election, despite internal concerns that election deniers were still using it to push lies and distortions, two people familiar with the matter said. the internal debates, which talked about the condition. anonymity to describe them. Rosborough said the company has “slowed down the enforcement” of its U.S. election policies “as the harms and risks associated with the contest evolved.”

In a New Election, Big Tech Uses Old Strategies to Fight the ‘Big Lie’

The company also launched state-specific Event Centers to promote credible primary reporting, create candidate account tags, and revamp its tags for misinformed tweets. And it took volunteers from all departments away from their normal work in the coming weeks to help protect the “authenticity and integrity of election-related conversations on the platform,” as the internal memo # ElectionSquad.

The memo asked volunteers to sign up for four-hour shifts over a two-week period from Nov. 1-15. They were also asked to list their foreign language skills. The whistleblower’s report audit found that Twitter was so lacking in language capabilities that many of its content moderators resorted to Google Translate.

Rosborough said the election team is made up of leaders from different departments across the company who have been meeting regularly for more than a year to prepare for the election. She said the call for volunteers with specific skills was a way to “ensure we had redundancies in place” at a critical time, adding that it had “worked well” in previous elections.

Twitter also has conducted “a number of tabletop exercises and threat models near the midpoints,” Rosborough said. She declined to say whether the company had anticipated what might happen to its election integrity efforts if and when Musk assumes ownership.

Twitter employees involved in the company’s midterm efforts are moving forward for now, but many privately fear that Musk could soon halt or cancel some of their work.

‘I think he could rip up these civic integrity policies and shut down the app pretty much immediately,’ one employee said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak. to the media. “Imagine we’ll see a ton of bullying videos of people voting, and misinformation stories about who they are, doxing them, looking at their trending names, and nothing can be done about it.”

#Twitter #rushing #midsessions #Musk

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