During Elon Musk’s first two weeks as owner of Twitter, he seemed to have an ally in Yoel Roth, who had been the social network’s head of trust and safety for seven years. Roth defended some of Musk’s early actions and touted Twitter’s work to repress hateful conduct🇧🇷 Musk pointed your followers to Roth’s tweets explaining Twitter’s content moderation job and said Roth has “high integrity” – although they disagreed over whether former President Trump should have been suspended.
“I recommend following @yoyoel to better understand what’s happening with confidence and security on Twitter,” Musk wrote on October 31st.
But Roth left on Nov. 10, the day after Musk launched the $8-a-month Twitter Blue subscription that came with checkmarks. Musk ignored prescient warnings from Roth’s team and was forced to back out of paid verification after scammers eagerly paid $8 for verification marks that made it easier to impersonate prominent accounts. Musk’s revamped Twitter Blue was scheduled to relaunch this week, but has been delayed again.
Roth recalled how the check-paid mess led to his resignation in an interview yesterday with Kara Swisher at a Knight Foundation conference. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” Roth said, continuing:
I was weighing the pros and cons over and over again. I knew what my limits were, and when I decided to leave, I realized that even if I spent all day, every day, trying to avoid whatever the next disaster was, there would be those who would. And Blue’s verification went through written advice prepared by my team and others on Twitter. We knew what was going to happen. Not that it was a surprise. It failed exactly the way we said it would.
Musk rules by “dictatorial edict”
The quote above and other parts of the interview can be viewed on YouTube. For parts we didn’t get to see, we’ve got news on the Roth/Swisher interview.
“Before Musk took over Twitter, Roth wrote several commitments to himself that would trigger the decision to leave. One threshold he said – which was never reached – was that Roth would refuse to lie for Musk,” said a CNN article.
But another of Roth’s limits has been reached. “One of my limits was if Twitter started to be governed by dictatorial edicts and not policies…
This echoes Roth’s statement in a Nov. 18 New York Times op-ed. Roth wrote that “many of the changes made by Mr. Musk and his team were sudden and alarming to employees and users alike, including quick layoffs and an ill-fated foray into reinventing Twitter’s verification system.”
Noting Musk’s “impulsive changes and tweet length pronouncements about Twitter’s rules”, Roth wrote that “Musk has made it clear that at the end of the day, he will call the shots. It is for this reason that I have chosen to leave the company: A Twitter whose policies are defined by public notice has little need for a trust and assurance function dedicated to its development of principles.”