Recent developments at X, formerly known as Twitter, have raised eyebrows as the company made substantial cuts to its election integrity team, including the removal of its team leader, Aaron Rodericks.
This decision, confirmed at least in part by Elon Musk, the owner of X, comes as a surprise given the recent promise by the company to expand its safety and election teams worldwide. Just weeks ago, X was actively seeking to hire a civic integrity and elections lead with a focus on combating disinformation.
In response to these changes, Rodericks, the former leader of the election integrity team, expressed his dedication to safeguarding the integrity of elections and civic events in a LinkedIn post. However, Rodericks faced suspension after showing support for posts critical of X, Musk, and X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino.
Elon Musk himself acknowledged the changes, stating, “Oh, you mean the ‘Election Integrity’ Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone,” in response to The Information’s report. These changes come at a time when X is facing criticism from the European Commission, which recently released a report on social media platforms’ handling of disinformation as part of the Digital Services Act (DSA). The report found that X had significantly higher levels of mis- and disinformation compared to its peers.
X responded to the report, disputing the “framing” of the data and reaffirming its commitment to comply with the DSA despite withdrawing from a voluntary Code of Practice on disinformation. European Vice President Vera Jourova emphasized the need for X to comply with the stricter regulations under the DSA and warned that the company would be closely monitored.
It’s worth noting that since Elon Musk’s acquisition of X in October of the previous year, the company has undergone significant staff reductions, amounting to over 80 percent of its workforce. Even prior to Musk’s leadership, X faced challenges in addressing disinformation on its platform. Under the DSA, X is obligated to adhere to stricter laws or face fines of up to 6 percent of its annual global revenue. However, thus far, Musk has encountered minimal resistance despite the tumultuous changes occurring at X.