Elon Musk’s X social media platform pledges 100-person office in Austin to police content

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Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter in October 2022 for $44 million and changed its name to X the next year, has faced criticism for failing to police content on the site. Days ahead of the company CEO's scheduled testimony in Washington, X said it would establish a 100-person unit in Austin to enforce its content and safety rules. 

Elon Musk’s X, the company formerly known as Twitter, is planning to build a new “Trust and Safety Center of Excellence” in Austin to help enforce content and safety rules.

The company aims to hire 100 full-time content moderators at the new location, according to Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at X. The group will focus on fighting material related to child sexual exploitation but also help enforce the social media platform’s other rules, which include restrictions on hate speech and violent posts, he added. The company did not specify when this new centre will be operational.

“X does not have a line of business focused on children, but it’s important that we make these investments to keep stopping offenders from using our platform for any distribution or engagement with CSE content,” Benarroch said. People must be at least 13 years old to open an account on X, and the company says less than 1% of its daily users are between the ages of 13-17. Those 17 and under can’t be targeted by advertisers.

Musk has been criticized for cutting back on X’s trust and safety operations since buying and taking the helm of the company in October 2022. He has also rescinded some policies, including those around misinformation, in what he’s said is an effort to bring “free speech” back to the service.

The timing of X’s announcement comes just a few days before Chief Executive Officer Linda Yaccarino is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on child safety online. She’ll be joined by the CEOs of other major technology companies, including Meta Platforms Inc., Snap Inc., TikTok and Discord.

Yaccarino was in Washington this past week speaking with senators from both sides of the aisle ahead of the upcoming hearing. Conversations focused on X’s efforts with CSE and other types of problematic content, but she also tried to highlight the ways that X is working to distinguish itself from Twitter and the company’s prior policies and leadership, Benarroch added.

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