Without considering the possibility that there were perhaps too many of them to begin with – Australia’s eSafety Commissioner is complaining in a new report that X, since the Musk takeover, has fired too many “safety and public policy personnel.”
Another complaint from the commissioner’s “transparency report” is about previously censored accounts getting reinstated on the platform.
The sum of the new policy, according to this Australian office – a government agency that’s “independent (but) supported by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)” – is that X is now less capable of “tackling online hate.”
It is no wonder that these accusations are made by eSafety, considering that it has been given powers to deal with what’s described as “cyberbullying, image-based abuse, and illegal and harmful online content.”
Basing the report on information obtained from X, eSafety writes that 80 percent of “safety engineers” have been let go since October 2022 (the same figure applies to global public policy staff). Moderators working for X have fared somewhat better – still, over 50 percent of them have been fired.
Considering that these employees were doing more than simply moderating – there have been many confirmed and very controversial cases on clear censorship against content and accounts – free speech supporters are likely fine to learn these precise numbers for the first time.
However, the Australian eSafety is not, taking a negative stance toward the developments and warning that they have “implications for Australian users.”
Commissioner Julie Inman Grant is quoted in the report as saying that, “It’s almost inevitable that any social media platform will become more toxic and less safe for users if you combine significant reductions to safety and local public policy personnel with thousands of account reinstatements of previously banned users.”
About that last point – we now know that the number of banned accounts that have been allowed back on X is at this point in excess of 6,100. But, the Australian office is not even sure if these figures concern X’s operations globally or just in Australia – although eSafety “understands” the latter to be the case, and draws this understanding from media saying earlier that a total of more than 62,000 accounts have been reinstated.
The commissioner is also displeased with the fact that X. did not find it necessary to place “additional scrutiny” on these accounts – banned under previous ownership, and its policies.
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