Elon Fires Half Of ExTwitter’s Election Integrity Team, Because A Manager Liked A Tweet Calling Him A Fucking Dipshit
from the elon's-fragile-ego-is-more-important-than-election-integrity dept
There is no doubt that it’s not always easy to figure out what social media websites should do about election disinformation. There are those who believe that websites need to very actively remove such content, but there’s little evidence that straight removal does very much productive, which is why it wasn’t that surprising that YouTube (for example) has stopped policing lies about the 2020 election (the last Presidential election, which doesn’t mean they won’t pay attention to upcoming election).
That said, even if you think that removing content (even election disinformation) is counterproductive, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a clear role for election integrity teams at various platforms. Remember, the main way that old Twitter handled election misinformation in 2020 was to focus on providing more information (that is, adding to the marketplace of ideas) which some people, very wrongly, called “censorship.” Adding more information is not censorship, it’s enabling the so-called marketplace of ideas to function better.
Indeed, reports show that the only times Twitter was actually removing information regarding elections was in the most extreme circumstances, such as cases where you had people impersonating election officials on Twitter in an attempt to mislead voters into not voting (such as by telling them the election was on a different day), or where there were out and out frauds.
That kind of thing is still really important.
But apparently not to Elon Musk. Earlier this week it was reported that exTwitter had disabled the feature that let users “report” election misinformation as part of its reporting tools. That already got some people worried about how a Musk-run exTwitter would handle many upcoming elections.
As if to confirm this was absolutely intentional, that same day, the Information revealed that Elon fired half of the remaining “Election Integrity Team” at exTwitter. This is despite him recently promising to expand that effort. Rolling Stone has way more info on all of this, including details about what likely happened here and it’s dumber than you could have imagined.
It began, as so much nonsense does these days, with gullible Elon falling for complete and utter nonsense peddlers on his own site. A month ago, Aaron Rodericks, who worked on the “threat disruption” team, and is a holdover from pre-Elon Twitter, announced that he was hiring 8 new people for civic integrity and elections work:
Again, this work is not about “censoring,” but about actually understanding various threats to actual elections (not just garden variety political misinfo) and figuring out ways to counter them.
But the nonsense peddlers on exTwitter that have Elon’s ear convinced him that it was a sneaky plot behind Elon’s back… supported with “evidence” that Aaron had, at times, liked some tweets that mocked Elon and Linda Yaccarino. From the Rolling Stone piece:
In a quote tweet, Benz replied to Raichik’s sarcastic question: “No, it’s being run by Yoel Roth’s former colleague, who still somehow works at X despite appearing to think Musk is a ‘f*cking dipshit’ — His name is Aaron Rodericks.” In the post, Benz shared screenshots of his many recent criticisms of Rodericks on the platform. In those tweets, Benz called Rodericks one of CEO Linda Yaccarino’s “censorship shills” and noted that Rodericks had apparently liked another user’s tweet using the aforementioned epithet to describe Musk.
Again, remember that for all of Elon’s talk about “free speech” on his platform, and a promise to fund any lawsuit for someone fired for their activities on exTwitter, he has a thing where he is very quick to fire any employee who even hints at not wanting to lick his boots. And thus he fired Roderick and many of his team despite having approved expanding his team, almost certainly because someone called his attention to Rodericks once liking a tweet that called Musk a fucking dipshit.
Rodericks was then suspended. Since he’s based in Ireland, he went to court to try to block further disciplinary action:
Aaron Rodericks, who is the co-lead of Threat Disruption at X, the social media formerly known as Twitter secured the order against his employer.
He claims that he is being subjected to a process that is “a complete sham” over allegations that he “demonstrated hostility” to the company for allegedly liking tweets by third parties that are critical of X, Mr Musk and the firm’s CEO Linda Yaccarine.
That RTE article notes, correctly, that Rodericks feels unfairly targeted for using the platform that he’s been told stands for free speech:
Shortly afterwards he claims he was the subject of a meetings and a disciplinary process that has seen him suspended from his job for allegedly liking disparaging posts about X, Mr Musk, and Ms Yaccarino.
He said that he was very surprised over the allegations, as the company had adopted a strong position on the freedom of speech on the platform, and is not aware of any requirement the precludes employees from liking material posted on X.
Rodericks should, you know, share this tweet, and ask Elon to pay for his lawyers.
Anyhoo, Elon can’t now publicly admit that he fired Rodericks for like a tweet calling him a fucking dipshit, so he’s now trying to retcon in some fucking nonsense that Rodericks was undermining election integrity. Which is nonsense, based on nothing but the say-so of a known political operative with a history of nonsense.
It seems pretty clear that Musk was embarrassed by Rodericks’ liking of a tweet and fired him, and then likely fired a few remaining employees in the department who were there from pre-Elon days.
Hours later, when asked about all of this at the Code Conference, CEO-in-name-only Linda Yaccarino lied through her teeth and said that the election integrity team was “growing.” On stage she claimed that “It’s an issue we take very seriously. And contrary to the comments that were made, there is a robust and growing team at X that is wrapping their arms around election integrity.”
It’s not growing when you fire half the team for recognizing the emperor has no clothes.