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Twitter loses second head of Trust and Safety under Musk

And here we thought being lead moderator for Elon would be fun

Twitter's second head of trust and safety to serve under Elon Musk has departed with little explanation.

Ella Irwin, who took over from Yoel Roth when he quit the company last November, confirmed her resignation to multiple news outlets late last night. Her role included overseeing content moderation at Twitter, an unenviable task as Twitter has continued to irritate some regulators over that exact issue.

Despite content and safety concerns, Irwin said in an interview late last year she felt empowered by Musk's leadership, claiming he gave her team permission to prioritize user safety over side effects like damaging user numbers.

"If you were to tweet something that had some hateful slur in it, we may deamplify that tweet. You're allowed to say it, but we don't have to give you the reach of getting that out to every user on our platform," Irwin said back in December.

And it was also reported on Friday that AJ Brown, Twitter’s head of brand safety and ad quality, has decided to quit as well.

Moderating yourself out of a job

It's impossible to know exactly why Irwin departed. We asked for more information and haven't heard back, and there's been no confirmation why her split with the Twit may have been for the best.

Her departure came on the same day as moderation kerfuffle over the restriction of sharing a transgender-themed video from right-wing blog Daily Wire put out by its personality Matt Walsh.

In a Twitter thread from the Daily Wire's Jeremy Boreing, the site's co-founder claims it was granted permission to publish the video, What is a Woman?, on Twitter with an opportunity to buy a promotion package for the 24-hour release as well.

"After reviewing the film, though, Twitter let us know that not only could we no longer purchase the package they offered, they would no longer provide us any support and would actually limit the reach of the film and label it as 'hateful conduct' because of 'misgendering,'" Boreing said.

Referring to changes that Twitter made to its moderation policy earlier this year, Boreing said he told Twitter misgendering wasn't a violation of its hate speech policy anymore, but he claims Twitter told him "they only removed 'misgendering' from their policy because they didn't need to be that specific, but that they still consider 'misgendering' abuse and harassment."

Musk disagreed with his company's decision, tweeting: "This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed." Irwin's departure came not long after Musk's tweet.

We can't know the two were linked without confirmation from Twitter, which sent us the usual response of a poop emoji, or Irwin. If her departure was voluntary, yesterday's moderation chaos may have been a final straw for a trust and safety chief likely still dealing with effects of Twitter's choice to pull out of a voluntary agreement with the EU to police misinformation on the site.

If Irwin departed for similar reasons to Roth, it looks like there's been little inward change at Twitter since the chaos of Musk's rule began.

Speaking to NPR shortly after his departure, Roth said he ran into a problem not of what decisions were being made, but how they were being arrived at. "I wouldn't want to be a part of undermining [policies and principles] with capricious decision-making. And unfortunately, that's what happened," Roth said. ®

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