X/Twitter executives had a very bad day defending Musk’s platform

    Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter, the company has rarely made its executives available for media appearances or comment. However, on Thursday, the platform now known as X saw two of its executives make rare public appearances, including Musk’s handpicked CEO Linda Yaccarino.

    It didn’t go very well.

    It all started early Thursday morning in Australia, as X’s head of global government affairs Nick Pickles defended the reinstatement of a right-wing influencer who posted child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the platform.

    In late July, a prominent right-wing influencer and conspiracy theorist on the platform, Dom Lucre, was suddenly suspended on the platform. His followers quickly rallied together, calling for his reinstatement and for a reason why he was suspended. 

    Musk replied to one user questioning Lucre’s suspension with an answer to why the platform took action. According to Musk, Lucre was suspended for  “posting child exploitation pictures associated with the criminal conviction of an Australian man in the Philippines.” Musk followed up by saying that they’d remove the post but would reinstate Lucre’s account. Lucre was back on Twitter the very same day.

    During Thursday’s Australian parliamentary hearing, Pickles said that the company has a “zero tolerance” approach to CSAM, before quickly stating that enforcement, or lack thereof, is different on the account that posted the child exploitation material. Pickles explained that Lucre posted the CSAM to express “outrage,” not to support such content.

    Australian lawmakers were not convinced by the explanation.

    “I’m sorry but if I’m outraged by some content, I’m not going to share that to make a point,” said Australian senator Helen Polley in response to Pickles. “It’s a crime and it should be suspended permanently. There’s no excuse.”

    “You can see why we don’t have a lot of faith and trust in what you’re telling us here today,” she continued.

    Following that, CNBC published X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s first video interview, where she discussed the future of X, the rebrand from Twitter, and working under Musk. 

    In the interview Yaccarino explained that she has “autonomy” from Musk and claimed to run the business end of things, while Musk handles the product. She also promoted X in Musk’s terms as an “everything app” and said users would soon be able to make video calls on the platform and send payments between users. Yaccarino called the rebrand a “liberation from Twitter” and the “legacy mindset.”

    During the interview, Yaccarino was asked about bringing brands and advertisers back to X all while conspiracy theories and hate speech permeate on Musk’s platform.

    “By all objective metrics, X is a much healthier and safer platform than it was a year ago,” said X’s CEO, who went on to refer to the company’s motto of “freedom of speech, not reach.”

    There are plenty of studies and real-world examples that can be pointed to that show this is just not true. But, let’s stick with the previously mentioned case of Dom Lucre’s reinstatement.

    “If you’re going to post something that’s illegal or against the law, you’re gone, zero tolerance,” Yaccarino went on to say. Again, as mentioned earlier, Lucre posted illegal child exploitation material, was reinstated on the platform, and an X executive defended the decision, just hours before CNBC published the Yaccarino interview.

    “If you’re going to post something that is lawful but it’s awful, you get labeled, you get de-amplified, which means it cannot be shared, and it is certainly demonetized,” Yaccarino continued.

    Again, none of this happened in Lucre’s case. Aside from the fact that Lucre’s content wasn’t lawful, Lucre’s post containing CSAM was not de-amplified. In fact, it received more than 3 million views on X before it was finally taken down, days after it was posted.

    And Lucre was not demonetized. On the contrary, according to Lucre, he was one of the first batch of users handpicked by X to receive payment via the creator monetization program, before it was opened to everyone else subscribed to Twitter Blue.

    Thursday marked a rare occasion where the public heard from not one, but two X executives. Afterwards, it seemed clear why these occasions are rare.

    Read the full article here

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