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Twitter safety chief confirms the company froze some content enforcement work after Elon Musk’s takeover

Bloomberg reported most people on Twitter's trust and safety team were not able to alter or penalize accounts that violated the company’s rules about misleading information, offensive posts and hate speech.
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk in 2019.
Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk in 2019.Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images file

Twitter's chief of safety and integrity on Monday night confirmed a news report saying that the company froze some employee access to internal tools used for content moderation after billionaire Elon Musk took over.

"This is exactly what we (or any company) should be doing in the midst of a corporate transition to reduce opportunities for insider risk," Yoel Roth tweeted. "We’re still enforcing our rules at scale."

Roth's tweet was in direct response to a Bloomberg report that said most people on Twitter's trust and safety team were not able to alter or penalize accounts that violated the company's rules around misleading information, offensive posts and hate speech.

Bloomberg, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, reported that employees still had access to content moderation tools to crack down on "high-impact violations" that would involve "real-world harm." NBC News has not confirmed their accounts.

Kurt Wagner, one of the reporters behind the Bloomberg article, said in a tweet that some employees "still have full access but it’s a small group" of roughly 30 people.

Roth, whose LinkedIn profile says he has been with Twitter since 2015, did not immediately respond to an email Tuesday asking if he wanted to elaborate on his tweet.

Musk backed Roth’s statement, delivering him a public vote of confidence at a particularly crucial moment for the company’s moderation effort.

Twitter's content moderation policies have come under intense scrutiny since Musk, the richest person in the world and a self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist," closed a deal last week to purchase the social media platform for $44 billion.

Musk's takeover has stoked fears that Twitter could become a content free-for-all, rife with misinformation and disinformation about politics, public health and other contentious issues of public interest.

Bloomberg reported that the new limits on content moderation have left some employees in the trust and safety unit worried the company will be "short-handed" in enforcing policies ahead of the midterm elections Nov. 8.

Twitter's new approach to content moderation also looms over the 2024 presidential contest and former President Donald Trump's possible bid for the Republican nomination.

Trump frequently violated the company's policies before he was barred from the platform two days after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The former president is not the only high-profile figure with a penchant for spreading misleading information: Musk tweeted and deleted an unfounded anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory Sunday morning about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, from a website that has a history of publishing false information.