X Corp. has slashed 30% of trust and safety staff, an Australian online safety watchdog

Australia’s online safety watchdog says the owner of the social media platform formerly known as Twitter has slashed its global trust and safety staff by 30% including an 80% reduction in the number of safety engineers since billionaire Elon Musk took …

Australia’s eSafety Commission, which describes itself as the world’s first government agency dedicated to keeping people safer online, released summaries of answers provided by X to questions about how its policies about hateful conduct were enforced.

The commission said in a statement while X had previously given estimates of the reduction in staffing, the answers were the first specific figures on where staff reductions had been made to become public.

Since the day before Musk bought control of San Francisco-based Twitter on Oct. 28, 2022, until a reporting period imposed by the commission closed May 31, 2023, trust and safety staff globally had been reduced from 4,062 to 2,849 employees and contractors. That reduction is 30% globally and 45% of those in the Asia-Pacific region.

Engineers focused on trust and safety issues at X had been reduced from 279 globally to 55, a fall of 80%. Full-time employee content moderators had been reduced 52% from 107 to 51. Content moderators employed on contract fell 12% from 2,613 to 2,305.

X had also revealed it had reinstated 6,100 previously banned accounts, including 194 who had been suspended for hateful conduct. The commission said it understood those accounts were Australian. X did not provide global figures, but technology newsletter Platformer reported in November 2022 that 62,000 suspended accounts had been reinstated.

Despite these accounts previously breaching X’s rules, they were not placed under any additional scrutiny once they were reinstated, the commission said.

X’s responses to user reports of hateful content had slowed since Musk took over.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said a social media platform would almost inevitably become more toxic and less safe for users with a reduction of safety staff combined with banned account holders returning.

“You are creating a perfect safety storm,” Inman Grant said in embargoed comments on Wednesday ahead of the report’s release.

Inman Grant said while X could not be forced to lift user safety standards, its failure to do so risked its brand reputation and advertising revenue.

“Advertisers want to advertise on platforms that they feel are safe, that are positive and non-toxic. Users will also vote with their feet when a platform feels unsafe or toxic,” Inman Grant said.

X did not immediately respond on Wednesday to a request for comment.

X’s policy on hateful conduct states: “You may not directly attack other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age disability or serious disease.”

X had missed a number of deadlines before providing the commission with the requested information first requested in June last year within 28 days. The commission has decided against fining X for the delay.

The original deadline was July 19. Extensions were granted until Aug. 17 and again until Oct. 27. The commission received most of the information by the October deadline, but outstanding information was received in November along with corrections to some previously provided information.

The commission fined X 610,500 Australian dollars ($385,000) in September last year for failing to fully explain how it was tackling child sexual exploitation content.

X has refused to pay and is fighting the fine in the Australian Federal Court.

This article was originally published by a abcnews.go.com . Read the Original article here. .