Amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, Facebook has been forced to shut down its moderation centers, and send some 35,000 content reviewers home, which has significantly reduced its capacity to review posts, ads and more.
Now, The Social Network is looking to get some moderators back in operation. According to BBC News, Facebook is now re-opening some of its review offices, though staff are only being asked to return on a voluntary basis at this stage.
As per BBC:
“[Facebook] told a committee of MPs that it was now reopening some offices, with plans for social distancing and protective equipment. […] Employees will have their temperatures checked at the beginning of their shift and buildings will be deep-cleaned at the end of shifts.“
How many staff will actually be returning to work was unclear – and given some of the horror stories around the experiences of Facebook moderators, it’s hard to imagine that many of them will be quick to head back in, especially given that they’re on full pay while they stay at home.
But Facebook is bringing moderators back, in some capacity – which is important, because there’s also been an influx of concerning content on the platform of late, including COVID-19 misinformation, and arguably worse, child pornography.
Again, from BBC:
“Earlier this month, Europol said it had seen an increase in use of the internet by those seeking child abuse material.”
Facebook has been working to get more of its moderation team working remotely, but at such scale, it’s simply not possible to get back to full capacity without re-opening some centers.
Adding capacity will not only better enable Facebook to cater to ongoing demand for content review, but it may also free up more resources to implement content rulings on coronavirus misinformation, which is evolving every day.
Case in point – this week, Facebook has seen a significant increase in posts which suggest that disinfectant and UV light can be used to treat COVID-19 after US President Donald Trump made the claims during one of his daily briefings. According to The New York Times, Facebook – along with YouTube and Twitter – has left many of these posts up, despite them sharing false information, and it is possible that with increased capacity, Facebook may be better equipped to adapt its rules around such posts to respond to such trends before they gain traction.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently outlined the company’s rough plans to get back to full capacity, noting that:
“We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities. A small percent of our critical employees who can’t work remotely – like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware – may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time.”
The return of moderators will enable better operational capacity in these key areas, though the threat of COVID-19 remains, and Facebook will need to take a cautious approach, while also seeking to motivate more staff to come back into the workspace.
From an external user perspective, that’s helpful. For the moderators themselves, maybe less so.
Jack Dorsey Exits Twitter Board, Clearing the Way for the Elon Musk Era at the App
While there’s no new news on the Elon Musk takeover saga, we do have another reminder that Twitter’s leadership team is never going to be the same, regardless of what comes next, with co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey today leaving the Twitter board, effective immediately.
Dorsey’s full exit removes another big chunk of experience from the company – over the past two weeks, Twitter has lost:
- Consumer product leader Kayvon Beykpour, who’d worked at Twitter for four years
- Head of revenue product Bruce Falck (5 years)
- Ilya Brown, a VP of product management (6 years)
- Katrina Lane, VP of Twitter Service (1 year)
- Max Schmeiser, head of data science (2 years)
That said, Dorsey’s move, isn’t a surprise.
Back in November, when Dorsey announced that he was standing down as Twitter CEO, he also noted that he would stay on Twitter’s board till around ‘May-ish’ to help incoming CEO Parag Agrawal and incoming Twitter Board chair Bret Taylor with their respective transitions.
Of course, back then, Dorsey couldn’t have predicted the chaos on the horizon, but despite the distractions of an imminent takeover, Dorsey has decided to stick with his original plan, and step away from the platform that he helped build.
That clears the path for a new era under Elon Musk, who has vowed to make significant changes to the way that Twitter operates – though of late, Musk seems to be more distracted by stats on population decline and political conspiracies than he does in completing the Twitter deal.
On May 13th, Musk said that his Twitter takeover offer was effectively ‘on hold’ pending more data from Twitter on its fake profile count, which it pegs at 5% of active users. Many users have since shared partial evidence that, in their opinion, proves that this number is not correct, while Twitter itself has maintained that there’s no such thing as ‘on hold’ in the takeover process, and that it’s preparing for the deal to close sometime soon.
Musk says that he won’t pay full price for something that’s not what he believed he was purchasing.
But then again, Musk also waived doing detailed due diligence on Twitter’s business, in order to reach an agreement faster, which means that he may be tied to the purchase anyway, regardless of what Twitter or anyone else may find here.
For his part, Dorsey has been a strong advocate for Musk, and his interest in Twitter, and has noted several times that he believes Musk is the best option to ‘save’ the company.
Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is “maximally trusted and broadly inclusive” is the right one. This is also @paraga’s goal, and why I chose him. Thank you both for getting the company out of an impossible situation. This is the right path…I believe it with all my heart.
— jack (@jack) April 26, 2022
Now Dorsey is getting out of the way to let that happen, which will mean that none of Twitter’s four founders remain in any position to advise or guide the platform in any direct capacity from now on.
That could be a good thing. Twitter, of course, is a far cry from what it was in the beginning, and maybe now it needs to detach from its founding concepts to reach its next stage.
But again, that’s a lot of experience heading out the door, with current CEO Agrawal also on the chopping block, according to Musk’s statements.
How that impacts Twitter’s future direction is hard to say. Again, Musk has already flagged significant changes, but without experienced voices advising him on what’s happened in the past, he could be doomed to repeat previous mistakes, impeding the company’s progress even more.
Or maybe it makes things easier, without the constraints of past limitations holding things up. I would lean towards the former, but clearly, Musk has his own ideas about how he’s going to transform the app, once he does, eventually, take control.
Which seems like more of a ‘when’ than ‘if’, but maybe Musk has some other trick up his sleeve to either reduce his offer price or get out of the Twitter deal entirely.
Either way, massive changes are coming to the app, which could alter the way that it’s used entirely.
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