Twitter’s dispute with President Trump may end up costing the social media company, Wall Street analysts say.
By moving on to the president’s flag tweets and fact checks, the company led by Jack Dorsey is opening up to intense scrutiny of its practices in ways that could compel it to expand the 1,500-member content moderation team that controls its platform.
“Every time a technology company, whether it’s Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or Twitter, comes into the spotlight, there are also many challenges,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told The Post.
Ives noted how Facebook added more than 10,000 content moderators after it became known that the company was unable to crack down on Kremlin-backed sources seeking to influence the 2016 US presidential election, including through the purchase of ads. in the place.
“From a volume and user point of view, Twitter trying to do this with complete precision would be like trying to count grains of sand on the beach,” Ives said.
Last month, Twitter announced that it would begin adding fact check tags to disputed or misleading tweets about the coronavirus amid fears that the hoaxes would spread across the Internet. He then expanded these labels to include misleading content related to the integrity of the election only after marking a tweet from Trump where he claimed that the mail ballots are “substantially fraudulent.”
The tag, which included a link telling users to “get the ballot data in the mail,” prompted the president’s allies to wonder why similar warnings had not been placed in tweets by other prominent Twitter users, including a Chinese government spokesman who accused the United States of causing the coronavirus.
Twitter only places misinformation labels on tweets it deems misleading if they were generated by a public official. Everyone else is simply suspended or even expelled from Twitter, depending on their record.
But dozens of public officials also use Twitter, including mayors, state officials, police officers, federal agencies, not to mention foreign leaders, experts said.
“I think if you’re starting to follow the path of fact-checking, then presumably you will need more fact-checkers,” said Third Bridge analyst Scott Kessler. “This has been done before in various contexts and it definitely costs money.”
“For a company that is apparently being quite conservative in terms of the way they have positioned themselves and operate, this appears to be an additional obligation,” he added.
In a statement to The Post, a Twitter spokesperson said it does not foresee additional hires for his team.
“We have appropriate personnel for the job. Protecting public conversation is a job being done by teams across the company, including product, trust and safety, curation and the Twitter service, ”the spokesperson said.
But analysts are skeptical that Twitter’s content review operation is much smaller than that of its competitors. Facebook, for example, has around 35,000 people working on “safety and security,” and Mark Zuckerberg has so far refused to follow in Twitter’s footsteps when it comes to examining posts by public officials.
In private comments from July 2019 leaked to The VergeZuckerberg questioned whether Twitter could expand its content moderation even if it wanted to.
“I mean, they face, qualitatively, the same kinds of problems. But they cannot invest. Our investment in security is greater than your company’s total revenue, ”said Zuckerberg.
How big the Twitter tagging process should be is not entirely clear in part because the operation is still a bit like a black box. Following the Trump-linked uproar, the company has said its decisions are made by a team of executives, including Twitter’s general counsel and the vice president of Trust and Security. Twitter CEO and founder Dorsey is briefed before taking action.
Twitter has also revealed that a nonprofit team associated with his electoral integrity center notified his team of Trump’s tweet, and that the tweet pinged between a series of top brass until Dorsey finally signed the flag.
When The Post contacted him and asked for more details about his dialing system, a spokesperson noted company blog post about exceptions to its rules and declined to provide additional information.
The blog post says that the only accounts that can break Twitter rules and not be suspended or removed entirely are those of elected and government officials “given the great public interest in learning about and being able to discuss their actions and statements.”
Twitter says it evaluates each case “individually and in a way that takes into account context and history,” noting that “this is new territory for everyone” and that it has yet to establish a precedent.
The San Francisco-based company also announced last June that it would begin marking abusive tweets from world leaders. At the time, he promised to use the tool on “rare” occasions when a tweet blatantly violates his policies.
With cable posts.