Friday, Twitter’s “Trust and Safety Council” resigned in protest over Elon Musk’s opening Twitter to diverse opinions (Twitter’s ‘Trust and Safety Council’ Resigns in Protest and Elon Musk Evaluates Their Performance). While ostensibly they were supposed to guide Twitter’s fight against the platform’s use to distribute child pron and other elements of child sexual exploitation (CSE), they made no measurable progress. It took over a decade for Twitter to agree to create a tool to report CSE. Twitter refused to take down the video clips of a 13-year-old engaged in sex acts despite the pleas of the child and parents. In the minds of many, Twitter seemed to be deliberately obtuse about suppressing CSE, which called into question if the Trust and Safety Sturmabteilung that banned jokes and parody as “hurtful” really took the issue seriously or even considered it was a problem beyond whatever unfriendly interest it drew from regulators and law enforcement.
When Mike Cernovich remarked that the trio should be in jail for their dereliction of duty, Elon Musk chimed in.
It is a crime that they refused to take action on child exploitation for years!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022
The man in charge of the effort was a film studies major with a Ph.D. in communications named Yoel Roth. Roth’s Ph.D. dissertation was based on his personal use of the gay hook-up app called Grindr. Chris Rufo gave an excellent run-down of his “scholarly” publications.
Dude's research background is wild: pic.twitter.com/G3LYlVXq8y
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) December 4, 2022
Not only was his research “interesting,” so, too, was his opinion of conservatives.
This person is the “head of site integrity” at Twitter pic.twitter.com/hyZcl5VIe0
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) May 27, 2020
Earlier today, Eliza Bleu, a victim of sex trafficking and someone who has been supportive of Musk’s efforts as compared to those of Roth and his posse, discovered something interesting.
— Eliza (@elizableu) December 10, 2022
Roth had retweeted a Slate (naturally) hot take headlined Student: teacher sex: When is it ok? Unsurprisingly, the answer was not NEVER!!!
Elon Musk took notice.
Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis: pic.twitter.com/1NiBohjhMQ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2022
Roth has a lot of fans who are claiming that both his tweet and his Ph.D. dissertation are “out of context” and that he wasn’t really in favor of teacher-student sex. That may be true. But you can’t ignore that Twitter’s actions regarding child safety closely paralleled Roth’s stated belief that minors should be allowed access to explicit sexual material. I would contend that hiring someone like Roth was a virtual guarantee that Twitter’s policy on suppressing CSE ended up exactly where it did.
It is safe to say that whatever truce that existed between Roth and Musk is now over. The battlefield that Musk has chosen as a metric for his success is suppressing CSE material (who can be against that? Other than the obvious people). It is also safe to say that before Musk insinuated that Roth was personally responsible for Twitter’s failure in that arena, he had a lot of emails and direct messages to back up that narrative.