Twitter’s Head of Trust and Safety, Ella Irwin, Resigns Amid Controversy and Turmoil
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Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, has resigned from her position at the social media company.
Her departure comes amid ongoing criticism regarding the platform’s approach to content moderation and struggles with advertiser retention following Elon Musk’s acquisition in October.
Irwin, who joined Twitter in June 2022 from Amazon, confirmed her resignation to various news outlets but declined to provide a reason for her decision.
She served for approximately seven months and was responsible for overseeing content moderation and combating disinformation on the platform. Irwin’s internal Slack account appeared to have been deactivated, according to sources and screenshots viewed by Fortune.
Previous Leadership Changes in Trust and Safety
Irwin’s departure marks the second resignation of a head of trust and safety since Elon Musk’s takeover. She replaced the previous head, Yoel Roth, who resigned in November after Musk acquired the company. Roth later wrote in a New York Times op-ed that he chose to leave because it was clear Musk would be unilaterally calling the shots on Twitter’s policies.
Criticism and Challenges Under Musk’s Ownership
Since Elon Musk’s acquisition, Twitter has faced criticism for its lax protections against harmful content. The platform has also struggled with technical challenges, mass layoffs, and an exodus of advertisers wary of appearing next to unsuitable content. An investor in the company recently revealed that its value had dropped by two-thirds since Musk’s takeover.
Content Moderation Controversies
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter’s approach to content moderation has become looser and more controversial. The platform has experienced significant challenges in stemming offensive and abusive content during Irwin’s tenure. For example, despite Musk stating that fighting child sex abuse material (CSAM) was “Priority #1” for the platform, reporting from NBC News and CNBC found that illegal content was still freely circulating on the platform.
Advertiser Retention Struggles
In addition to content moderation controversies, Twitter has faced challenges in retaining advertisers. Brands have been wary of appearing next to unsuitable content, leading to a decrease in advertising revenue. In response, Musk hired Linda Yaccarino, the former NBCUniversal advertising chief, as Twitter’s new CEO to help address this issue.
Changes at Twitter Since Musk’s Acquisition
Following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the company has undergone significant changes, including cost-cutting measures and layoffs. Many employees who worked on efforts to prevent harmful and illegal content, protect election integrity, and surface accurate information on the site were let go.
Community Notes Feature
Musk has promoted a feature called Community Notes, which allows users to add context to tweets as a way to combat misleading information on Twitter. However, the effectiveness of this feature in addressing the platform’s content moderation issues remains to be seen.
Twitter is also facing increasing scrutiny from regulators over its moderation efforts. The company withdrew from a voluntary agreement with the European Union to tackle disinformation, while stating it was committed to complying with upcoming internet rules in the EU. The EU industry chief Thierry Breton warned Twitter that it would not be able to avoid legal obligations in the EU after quitting the voluntary agreement.
Impact on Twitter’s Reputation and Market Value
Ella Irwin’s resignation, coupled with ongoing criticism and challenges, has negatively impacted Twitter’s reputation and market value. Since Musk’s takeover, the company’s value has dropped by two-thirds, according to an investor. The platform’s struggles with content moderation and advertiser retention have further exacerbated this decline.
Looking Forward: Addressing Twitter’s Challenges
With Ella Irwin’s departure and ongoing criticism of Twitter’s policies, the company faces the challenge of addressing these issues while maintaining its commitment to free speech. The hiring of Linda Yaccarino as CEO is a step towards addressing advertiser concerns, but further action will likely be necessary to regain user and advertiser trust.
Potential Changes in Content Moderation
As Twitter faces increasing scrutiny from regulators and the public, the company may need to reevaluate its approach to content moderation. This could involve implementing stricter guidelines, investing in additional personnel, or utilizing new technologies to better detect and remove harmful content.
Rebuilding Trust with Advertisers and Users
In addition to addressing content moderation concerns, Twitter must work to rebuild trust with advertisers and users. This may involve greater transparency regarding policies and decisions, as well as proactive efforts to engage with stakeholders and demonstrate a commitment to addressing their concerns.