Twitter executive resigns from her high profile role – a week after the platform withdrew from the European code of practice on disinformation.

Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that she has resigned from the social media company.

Ella Irwin has assumed the role after Twitter’s previous head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, had left in November 2022 – a month after Musk took over the platform.

Yoel Roth

The departure of Roth last November had surprised many at the time, but came amid a slew of other executive resignations and mass firings at the company.

Musk later admitted that he has sacked 80 percent of Twitter’s workforce.

Roth’s resignation last November was surprising as he had emerged as part of Musk’s new leadership team of Twitter 2.0, amid the chaos of the Musk takeover.

Indeed Roth for a while after Musk’s takeover had been deputised to publicly address concerns that advertisers and users had about the direction of the platform under Musk.

Roth also oversaw Twitter’s response to combat hate speech, misinformation and spam on the service.

All of those resignations prompted the US FTC to say it was closely watching Elon Musk’s moves at Twitter “with deep concern.”

There was also speculation that all of those resignations last November allegedly came from the team that would have had to certify “personally” that Twitter was complying with the privacy protections required by the FTC, and they weren’t willing to do that and therefore all of them had resigned.

But worse was to follow for Roth after he resigned.

Mainstream media outlets included the Washington Post, CNN etc, reported that Roth and his family had been forced to flee their home after Elon Musk’s tweets had misrepresented Roth’s academic writing about sexual activity and children.

An online mob of Musk supporters reportedly sent threats to people Roth had replied to on Twitter, reportedly forcing some of Roth’s family and friends to delete their Twitter accounts.

Musk’s followers also reportedly directed harassment at professors who reviewed the dissertation that Roth wrote in 2016, as well as at his graduate school, the University of Pennsylvania.

“Looks like Yoel is arguing in favour of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis,” Musk had tweeted, attaching a screenshot of Roth’s dissertation.

In the text, Roth had suggested that services like the gay dating app Grindr should adopt safety strategies to accommodate teenagers using their platforms, rather than drive them out entirely.

Ella Irwin

Now Ella Irwin has confirmed she has resigned as the second head of trust and safety under Musk.

The reason for her resignation is unclear.

However it comes a week after Twitter withdraw from the European Union’s voluntary code to fight disinformation.

The BBC reported that in-depth studies have indicated hate speech has been growing under Musk’s tenure, with the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a London-based campaign group, finding slurs increased substantially after the takeover.

It should be noted that in December 2022, Twitter also disbanded the volunteer group (the Trust and Safety Council) which advised it on self-harm, child abuse and hate speech.

The group had been notified it had been disbanded one hour before it was due to hold a Zoom meeting with Twitter executives.

The Washington Post had reported at the time that many other members of the group had already been on the verge of resigning, after three members of the Trust and Safety Council had resigned a week earlier, warning that the “safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline.”

Elon Musk also gutted Twitter’s external contractor teams, whose role was to ensure the platform was free of misinformation and hate.

New CEO

All of this will present a fresh headache for the new CEO of Twitter, when she starts the role.

Last month, Elon Musk had found his ‘foolish enough’ replacement as Twitter chief executive, after he lost a poll over whether he should retain the CEO role.

Musk named former NBCUniversal advertising exec Linda Yaccarino as the new Twitter CEO. That said, Musk continues to play significant roles as executive chairman and chief technology officer.

Image credit: Comcast

It should be noted that Twitter has been making some moves to moderate the accuracy of posted content, with Musk announcing a Community Notes feature, which would be expanded to images.

Twitter hopes to expand this to video later.

Community Notes is a crowdsourced fact-checking system, which allows Twitter users to add comments which provide context to tweets – often labelling them as false or misleading.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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