X’s new head of safety must toe Elon Musk’s line where others failed

X has named a new head of safety about nine months after Ella Irwin resigned last June, following Elon Musk’s criticism of Irwin’s team’s decision to restrict a transphobic documentary. Shortly after Irwin left, former head of brand safety AJ Brown similarly resigned. And that regime notably took over where former safety chief Yoel Roth—who also clashed with Musk—left off.

Stepping into the safety chief role next is Kylie McRoberts, who was promoted after leading X “initiatives to increase transparency in our moderation practices through labels” and “improve security with passkeys,” X’s announcement said.

As head of safety, McRoberts will oversee X’s global safety team, which was rebranded last month to drop “trust” from its name. On X, Musk had said that “any organization that puts ‘Trust’ in their name cannot [be] trusted, as that is obviously a euphemism for censorship.”

“We are changing the name of our Trust & Safety group, to simply @Safety,” Musk wrote. “Trust is something that must be earned. The goal of our Safety team is simply to ensure compliance with the laws that already exist to protect the people.”

According to CNN, McRoberts came from Google, where she worked on “safe web browsing efforts,” potentially suggesting that under her leadership, the Safety team will be “less focused on content moderation” than prior trust and safety regimes.

On X, some users criticized McRoberts for seeming to lack transparency already, though, suggesting that she had deleted her LinkedIn profile and set her X profile to private, making it harder to learn more about her background.

X’s announcement didn’t mention content moderation specifically but said that McRoberts will be charged with “developing new products, tools, and features to protect our platform and community, maintaining our Safety policies, and enhancing our enforcement methodology and operations.” In a company-wide note, X CEO Linda Yaccarino stressed to X staff that the Safety team would be charged with defending freedom of speech on the platform, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“When we say safety and freedom of speech can and must coexist on X—we mean it,” Yaccarino said. “And the Safety team works tirelessly, day and night, across the globe to make that happen.”

However, it’s clear that McRoberts’ Safety team will be focused on at least some efforts to step up content moderation. X credited McRoberts for “building out” X’s Safety Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas. X announced the new center in January, confirming plans to hire 100 content moderators mostly focused on removing child sexual exploitation materials from the platform, Bloomberg reported.


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