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At a conference on Wednesday, X CEO Linda Yaccarino contradicted Elon Musk’s claims that the platform’s election monitoring team has been eliminated. Yaccarino disputed these claims, saying the team is “growing” and will continue to monitor political misinformation on the platform.
Musk announced that the X, formerly Twitter, election team was disbanded in a tweet on Wednesday. An account called X News Daily tweeted that “X has reportedly cut half off of its Electoral integrity team, including the head of the group.” Musk responded, writing: “Oh you mean the “Election Integrity” Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.”
Yaccarino spoke out only hours after the post went public saying the election integrity team was still in place, although she did not refute claims that X had fired some members of the team.
“It’s an issue we take very seriously,” Yaccarino said in an interview at the 2023 Code Conference. “And contrary to the comments that were made, there is a robust and growing team at X that is wrapping their arms around election integrity,” she said.
X reportedly cut half of its staff in charge of identifying election misinformation and fraud on the platform, The Information first reported, citing three people familiar with the matter. The layoffs were reportedly announced on Friday, telling staff that it isn’t necessary to have a global team, according to the outlet. Among those laid off was Aaron Rodericks, the team’s global leader who is based in Ireland.
On Wednesday, Yaccarino told The Financial Times that X was expanding, rather than disbanding, its global safety and election teams, saying that the goal is “to focus on combating things like manipulation, surfacing of inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for any emerging threats.”
The disagreement between the two X heads comes as Musk disabled the option for users to report misinformation on the platform ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential election. The company has been accused of spreading disinformation and online hate on its platform with Russian disinformation about the Ukraine War reaching 165 million people in the EU, according to a European Commission report.
“Since taking charge of X, Elon Musk has used the platform to foment antisemitism, hate speech, and disinformation — playing into the hands of bad actors like Russia, China, and Iran, Kyle Morse,” Deputy Executive Director of the commission’s Tech Oversight said in a statement. “Decimating their election integrity team — on top of last year’s firings — means that X will continue to be a toxic hellscape that people and advertisers should avoid,” he added.
There does seem to be at least one political team at X that’s expanding. According to reporters at the New York Times, Yaccarino has hired her son, Matt Madrazo, “to work on sales for political advertisers.”