Two executives from X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, recently made rare public appearances to discuss and defend their company’s policies. These discussions followed closely after the controversial reinstatement of Dom Lucre, a right-wing influencer who had been suspended for posting child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
The Dom Lucre Incident: A Policy Enigma
Dom Lucre, an influencer known for his right-wing viewpoints and conspiracy theories, was suspended from X in late July for posting content that Elon Musk, the owner of X, described as “child exploitation pictures.” However, on the same day as his suspension, Lucre’s account was reinstated. This decision to reinstate Lucre raised questions about X’s approach to enforcing its content policies, specifically its stance on CSAM.
X’s Policy Explained in Australian Parliamentary Hearing
Nick Pickles, the Head of Global Government Affairs for X, attended a parliamentary hearing in Australia to discuss the company’s policies. He asserted that X has a “zero-tolerance” policy towards CSAM but indicated that enforcement might vary based on the intent behind posting such material. According to Pickles, Lucre’s post was meant to express “outrage,” and not to support or propagate CSAM. This explanation, however, did not find favor with the Australian lawmakers.
Australian Senator Helen Polley responded by stating that sharing content to express outrage was not a sufficient reason to bypass laws or platform policies. “It’s a crime and it should be suspended permanently,” she said.
CEO Linda Yaccarino’s Media Appearance
Later that day, Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, took part in her first video interview since assuming her role. Published by CNBC, the interview covered various aspects of X’s vision for the future, including the company’s rebranding from Twitter and its future plans to include features like video calls and peer-to-peer payments.
When questioned about the safety of the platform, Yaccarino insisted that X had made substantial progress in the past year. She referenced the company’s commitment to “freedom of speech, not reach” and outlined various mechanisms in place for labeling, de-amplifying, and demonetizing harmful content. Yet, when these mechanisms were examined in the context of the Dom Lucre incident, inconsistencies emerged.
Lucre’s post, which was illegal and not merely controversial, had not been de-amplified or demonetized as per the policies outlined by Yaccarino. In fact, the post had garnered more than 3 million views before it was taken down, raising questions about the effectiveness of X’s content moderation strategies.
The Impact on Public Trust
The appearances by Pickles and Yaccarino have left many skeptical about the platform’s commitment to enforcing its policies consistently. The differing explanations and apparent inconsistencies have created an environment of mistrust that X will need to address to regain credibility.