Twitter: Trolling, disinformation and exploitation rife since Musk takeover, BBC Panorama claims
An explosive BBC Panorama documentary this evening will claim Twitter is failing to protect users from trolling, state-co-ordinated disinformation and child sexual exploitation.
The deep-dive programme at 8pm on Monday features a raft of insiders at the social media company, building on academic researched shared with the broadcaster.
This comes after billionaire Tesla owner Elon Musk bought the company for £35bn and initiated a wave of job cuts and restructuring.
In addition to creating a new paid-for authentication model, his firing of staff managing complaints procedures and re-instituting of controversial accounts like Donald Trump has led to an exodus of advertiser.
According to the BBC, at least half of Twitter’s 7,500 workforce have been sacked or chosen to leave since Musk bought the platform.
The BBC Panorama documentary lifts the lid on new concerns that sexual exploitation is on the rise on the site, after massive job cuts have led to fewer resources to report and manage offenders.
It also says that targeted harassment campaigns against users have been on the rise – including from foreign influencers – which are going “undetected”.
Marianna Spring, the BBC’s Disinformation and Social Media Correspondent, launched her investigation after noticing a major uptick in abuse against her.
Spring has spoken to dozens of Twitter insiders, with six agreeing to go on the record, including former head of content design Lisa Jennings Young.
Young said features she helped create like the AI-drive ‘nudge’ for harmful language had been neglected.
“Overall 60 per cent of users deleted or edited their reply when given a chance through the nudge. But what was more interesting, is that after we nudged people once, they composed 11 per cent fewer harmful replies in the future.
“It was not at all perfect. But we were trying and we were making things better all the time,” Young said.
An employee, anonymised under the name ‘Sam’, said “nobody’s taking care” of engineering work.
“From someone on the inside, it’s like a building where all the pieces are on fire. When you look at it from the outside the façade looks fine, but I can see that nothing is working.”
He also warned about the level of mistrust from the CEO, Elon Musk, who has “at least two bodyguards – very bulky, tall, Hollywood movie-[style] bodyguards” wherever he goes.
Twitter claims it has removed 400,000 accounts in a month alone to help “make twitter safer”, but ex-employees warn if the content cannot be reported to police properly, it won’t lead to progress.
Twitter has been approached for comment.