The former head of trust and safety at Twitter, Yoel Roth penned an op-ed in the New York Times sharing “what could become” of the company.
Commenting on the new owner and CEO Elon Musk’s plans to transform the platform into the bedrock of free speech, Roth said it would face “unavoidable” limitations because Apple and Google app stores’ review processes greatly influence new features.
Since billionaire Elon Musk took the reins of the company, it has been in the news not for good reasons. After impulsive mass terminations at the company, Musk introduced an $8 Twitter Blue subscription which included a verification checkmark for all with the intention to defeat bots and trolls. To his dismay, trolls had a field day with the new feature and it was paused shortly after.
Radical transformation of Twitter restrained by Apple and Google app store review process
Roth explained that Musk’s free speech ambitions will be moderated by several stakeholders: advertisers, laws, and regulations of countries it is available in, and most importantly, the Apple and Google app stores.
iIs 2021 annual report didn’t mince words: The company’s release of new products “is dependent upon and can be impacted by digital storefront operators” that decide the guidelines and enforce them, it reads. “Such review processes can be difficult to predict, and certain decisions may harm our business.”
Failure to adhere to Apple’s and Google’s guidelines would be catastrophic, risking Twitter’s expulsion from their app stores and making it more difficult for billions of potential users to get Twitter’s services. This gives Apple and Google enormous power to shape the decisions Twitter makes.
In conclusion, Roth said that Twitter would have to balance Musk’s goals and the realities of the internet and that would not be an easy task for employees who have decided to stay.
In the longer term, the moderating influences of advertisers, regulators and, most critically of all, app stores may be welcome for those of us hoping to avoid an escalation in the volume of dangerous speech online.
Twitter will have to balance its new owner’s goals against the practical realities of life on Apple’s and Google’s internet — no easy task for the employees who have chosen to remain. And as I departed the company, the calls from the app review teams had already begun