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Twitter Sees Safety Chiefs Exit Amidst Musk's Unorthodox Rule Changes

Departure of two key safety executives from Twitter amidst Elon Musk's rule changes stokes concerns over the platform's direction and safety protocols.

Despite assurances that Twitter has seen a decrease in hate speech and abuse under Elon Musk's leadership, contradicting signals are emanating from Twitter's headquarters.

This week, Twitter witnessed the exit of two executives responsible for trust and safety, both prominent proponents of Musk's 'free speech' reforms. Their departure was prompted by Musk overriding Twitter's decision to limit the promotion of a controversial documentary about gender transition and the burgeoning 'gender ideology movement'.

Reports suggest that Twitter initially agreed to premiere the documentary, "What is a Woman?" including a paid promotion of the project. However, after scrutinizing the content, Twitter's trust and safety executives backed out of the agreement due to fears that it could be construed as hate speech, particularly regarding misgendering.

Elon Musk, known for criticizing gender affirmation and particularly gender transition surgery for young people, intervened when Twitter's decision to distance itself from the documentary was questioned. Musk not only overrode the team's decision but also shared the documentary with his 141 million followers, placing it prominently on his profile.

This episode ignited tensions within Twitter's brand safety team, culminating in the departure of Ella Irwin, the head of trust and safety, and AJ Brown, the chief of brand safety.

Irwin, a significant spokesperson for Twitter 2.0, was tasked with reassuring brands and maintaining advertiser trust amidst Musk's unsettling changes. However, with a 50% drop in Twitter's ad revenue since Musk's takeover, the challenge seemed insurmountable.

Musk's continuous reformations, based on his personal ideologies and the reintroduction of previously banned users known for spreading hate speech and misinformation, pose severe challenges to Twitter's brand safety team. These recent departures further stir the pot of concern for many organizations.

The situation is further exacerbated as Twitter now requires brands to subscribe to Twitter Blue to advertise, leading to even more departures among Twitter executives.

So, what implications does this have for brand safety?

The loss of seasoned veterans like Irwin and Brown is a significant setback, with their absence keenly felt as Twitter undergoes a makeover in Musk's image.

While incoming CEO Linda Yaccarino might have intended a revamp, this development only adds to the challenges she faces in assuring ad partners about the positives of Musk's vision and the low risk of negative exposure.

Current data on hate speech prevalence on the platform is indecisive, with external reports suggesting an increase while Musk's team maintains a decline. A lot hinges on the methodology, but the continuous loss of personnel tasked with mitigating hate speech indicates an internal lack of confidence in Twitter's actions.

Ultimately, each brand must weigh the potential risks, but the signs are ominous, particularly for those skeptical of Musk's approach.