Social media platform X, formerly Twitter, will open a moderation office in Texas with an emphasis on fighting content linked to child sexual abuse, the company said.
The initial goal of the “Trust and Safety center of excellence” in Austin will be to recruit 100 content moderators, focusing on weeding out child sexual exploitation (CSE) content and other violations of the platform’s rules, Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at X, told AFP Saturday.
“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 in an email.
The company purchased by Elon Musk at the end of 2022 said in a blog post Friday it was “determined to make X inhospitable for actors who seek to exploit minors.”
“X has strengthened its policies and enforcement to tackle CSE. We are now taking action on users that distribute this content and also taking immediate action on the networks of users who engage with this horrible content.”
Benarroch noted that children under 13 cannot open accounts on X, while young users aged 13 to 17 automatically default to a private setting, and cannot be targeted by advertisers.
X’s announcement comes ahead of a hearing in the US Senate on Wednesday, titled “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis.”
Top executives from Meta, Snap, TikTok, Discord and X will testify in front of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. X will be represented by CEO Linda Yaccarino.
She was in Washington last week to meet with elected officials from both parties on topics including child protection, content moderation, disinformation and artificial intelligence.
“We wanted to help Senators/staff understand how X is a new company and what has evolved over the past 14 months. Because as it relates to CSE in particular — there had been a lot ignored before acquisition that X has changed,” Benarroch said.
X currently has more than 2,000 content moderators, both full-time employees and contractors, he said.
Musk, a self-declared “free speech absolutist,” vowed to remove restrictions at Twitter after he bought the platform. Many rules were removed or relaxed, with numerous banned figures able to return.
Last month, the EU announced “formal infringement proceedings” against X, under a law designed to combat disinformation and hate after identifying suspect posts related to Hamas’s October 7 attack in Israel.
The action was the first against a major online platform since Brussels implemented the Digital Services Act (DSA), a sweeping piece of European Union legislation that strengthens online companies’ responsibility for content moderation.
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