Twitter moderators turn to automation amid a reported surge in hate speech | Twitter

Elon Musk’s Twitter relies heavily on automation to moderate content according to the company’s new trust and safety chief, amid a reported increase in hate speech on the platform of social media.

Ella Irwin told Reuters news agency that Musk, who acquired the company in October, was more focused on using automation, saying that Twitter had in the past opted for human review of harmful content, which was time-consuming and labor-intensive.

“He encouraged the team to take more risks, to move fast, to secure the platform,” she said.

Regarding child safety, Irwin said Twitter has moved to automatically deleting tweets flagged by trusted figures with a history of accurately flagging harmful posts.

Twitter is also more aggressively restricting hashtags and search results conducive to abuse in areas such as child exploitation, regardless of the potential impacts on “benign uses” of those terms, she said. .

“The biggest thing that’s changed is that the team is fully empowered to move fast and be as aggressive as possible,” Irwin said.

His comments come as researchers reported an upsurge in hate speech on the social media service, after Musk announced an amnesty for suspended accounts under previous company management who had not broken the law or engaged in “blatant spam”.

The company has faced pointed questions about its ability and willingness to moderate harmful and illegal content since Musk cut half of Twitter’s staff and issued an ultimatum to work long hours which resulted in the loss of hundreds of additional employees.

On Friday, Musk promised “a significant strengthening of content moderation and protection of free speech” during a meeting with the French President, Emmanuel Macron.

Irwin said Musk encouraged the team to worry less about how their actions would affect user growth or revenue, saying security was the company’s top priority. “He insists on this every day, multiple times a day,” she said.

Researchers say the number of tweets containing hateful content on Twitter rose sharply the week before Musk tweeted on Nov. 23 that hate speech impressions or views were down. Tweets containing anti-black words that week were triple the number seen the month before Musk took office, while tweets containing a gay slur rose 31%, according to research by the Center for Countering Digital Hurry.

Irwin said the layoffs did not significantly affect full-time employees or contractors working in what the company called its “health” divisions, including in “critical areas” like child safety. and content moderation.

She said Twitter removed about 44,000 accounts implicated in child safety breaches, working with cybersecurity group Ghost Data.

Twitter is also restricting hashtags and search results commonly associated with abuse, such as searching for “teenage” pornography. Past concerns about the impact of these restrictions on permitted uses of the terms have disappeared, she said.

Using “trusted reporters” was “something we’ve discussed in the past on Twitter, but there was some hesitation and frankly just a little bit of lag,” Irwin said.

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