Following layoffs and changes under owner Elon Musk, Twitter insiders have told the BBC that the company is no longer able to protect users from trolling, state-coordinated disinformation, and child sexual exploitation.
Exclusive academic data and testimony from Twitter users support their claims, implying that hate thrives under Mr Musk’s leadership, with trolls emboldened, harassment intensifying, and an increase in accounts following misogynistic and abusive profiles.
Current and former employees of the company tell BBC Panorama that features designed to protect Twitter users from trolling and harassment are difficult to maintain in what they describe as a chaotic working environment in which Mr Musk is constantly surrounded by bodyguards. I’ve interviewed dozens of people, with several going on the record for the first time.
According to the former head of content design, everyone on her team, which developed safety features such as nudge buttons, has been fired. She eventually resigned. According to internal Twitter research, these safety measures reduced trolling by 60%. An engineer at Twitter told me that “nobody’s taking care” of this type of work anymore, comparing the platform to a building that appears fine from the outside but is “on fire” on the inside.
The BBC’s request for comment was not responded to by Twitter.
My investigation also uncovered:
Concerns that child sexual exploitation is on the rise on Twitter are not being addressed adequately by law enforcement.
Targeted harassment campaigns aimed at stifling free expression, as well as foreign influence operations that were once removed daily from Twitter, are now going “undetected,” according to a recent employee.
Exclusive data reveals that misogynistic online hate directed at me has increased since the takeover, with a 69% increase in new accounts created in response to misogynistic and abusive profiles.