Former Twitter executive Yoel Roth warned about the dangers of an unmoderated internet and spoke about the widespread harassment he faced an essay for the New York Times published on Monday.
Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, wrote about living in fear after being targeted by former President Donald Trump and billionaire Elon Musk over his work as a content moderator on the site, which is now owned by Musk and was renamed X.
In his essay, Roth revealed that he had to “turn it on its head.” [his] family, hiding for months and moving again and again,” while calling on platforms to address violent content, harassment and misinformation head-on.
“This is not a story I like to revisit,” Roth wrote. “But I learned that what happened to me was not an accident. It wasn’t just about personal vindictiveness or “cancel culture.” It was a strategy – one that affects not just certain people like me, but all of us, as it rapidly changes what we see online.”
Roth’s problems began after he and his team decided to label a Trump tweet from 2020 on the subject of postal voting as misinformation. Days later Trump attacked Roth himself, In a May 28 tweet, he called him a “hater.”
What followed was “months of online harassment that resulted in me being fired, imprisoned or killed,” Roth said.
Years later, Roth found himself conflicted following Musk’s takeover of Twitter. Although he remained in office until the Tesla CEO took over the site, Roth resigned End of 2022, after the trust and security department has been gutted.
After Roth’s departure, Musk targeted his former employee online, baseless accusations Roth supports the sexualization of children.
“Mr. Musk went a step further by using a paragraph from my doctoral dissertation. “I took my dissertation out of context and made baseless claims that I condoned pedophilia – a conspiracy theme often used by right-wing extremists and QAnon followers, to denigrate LGBTQ people,” Roth wrote.
In response, Roth said he received “thousands of threatening tweets and emails,” forcing his family to move several times and at times live with armed guards.
The former tech executive called his experience “part of a calculated effort to stop Twitter from moderating Mr. Trump in the future and to dissuade other companies from taking similar steps,” and he advised social media sites to protect their users from hate speech and violence to protect users who weaponize their major platforms.
“Few people can be expected to take a job if the price means their life or their freedom,” he wrote. “We all need to recognize this new reality and plan accordingly.”
Although Musk has described himself as “Freedom of expression absolutist” The tech mogul has consistently worked to silence his critics, whether through direct harassment, technology or legal threats.
Last month, This was revealed by the Washington Post that
X filed a lawsuit in August against the Center for Countering Digital Hate, claiming it had spread “false” claims about a rise in hate speech on the platform.
Weeks later, Musk threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League over similar claims, saying the anti-hate organization’s allegations of anti-Semitism on X had driven away advertisers.
Read Yoel Roth’s full essay Here.