Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Big Tech companies reveal trust and safety cuts in disclosures to Senate Judiciary Committee

By 37ci3 Mar30,2024



In new revelations to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Big Tech companies detailed deep cuts to trust and security departments across the industry in recent years.

The CEOs of X, Snap and Discord announced cuts to trust and security teams at the divisions at the tech companies that monitor and regulate security risks on the platforms, according to written responses from the tech CEOs. Published by the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday.

Meta and TikTok did not provide historical information about their trust and security personnel to the committee, however, despite requests previous reports indicate During the same period, Meta made reductions in the staff of those teams. Also on TikTok reductions are reported this year.

The figures, some of which have not been previously disclosed, follow January hearings in which senators debated social media chiefs about child safety issues. Despite CEOs’ assurances that companies are laser-focused on platform security issues, the numbers show that most platforms have chosen to reduce trust and security operations even under the dangling sword of potential regulation and ahead of 2024. The presidential elections.

In response to a question by Senator Cory Booker, DN.J., asking the number of trust and security personnel employed by the company in the past five years, X provided data for three years. The figures showed a steady decline in confidence and safety staff at the company over the past two years.

“X had 3,317 Trust and Security employees and contractors in May 2022 and 2,849 in May 2023,” X replied. “Today, we have approximately 2,300 people working on Trust and Security, and we’re building a Trust and Security Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas, to bring more agent capacity in-house and less reliance on outside contractors.”

According to Australia’s eSecurity Commissioner, the country’s independent online security regulator, X previously disclosed the company had 4,062 trust and security contractors a day before Elon Musk acquired it. According to the response to Booker, the company has cut 43% of its trust and security roles under Musk. The Australian commissioner noted that X had reduced the number of full-time content moderators from 107 to 51.

X did not disclose to senators how much it is investing in the trust and security effort, but said the company aims to hire 100 employees for that team.

X has been criticized for relaxing some of the kinds of moderation that Musk owns. Musk said he believes most types of content should be allowed on the platform as long as it doesn’t violate the law.

Snap was more detailed and forthcoming in its statements.

The company provided employee data between 2019 and 2023. In 2019, the company had 763 employees, including full-time employees and contract workers performing security and surveillance work. By 2021, this number has increased to 3,051. However, it decreased to 2592 in 2022, and again to 2226 in 2023. The layoff represents a 27% drop in the company’s trust and security staff from its peak.

Snap spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said in a statement that the company is increasing its total number of full-time employees while reducing the number of contract employees.

“We continue to invest in developing our security and content moderation teams. Since 2020, our security team has more than doubled and our moderation team has more than tripled,” he said.

Snap announced that it is increasing its trust and security budget to “approximately $164 million” through 2022, but reducing spending on trust and security issues to $135 million in 2023.

The company said its global revenue from minors in 2023 is about $437 million.

Snap, in particular, has been criticized for its continued use of the platform by those accused of selling it fentanyl to some minors who died from drug overdose. Parents of dead children has been particularly vocal in its defense of technological regulation.

Racusen added, “We are committed to stopping drug traffickers from abusing Snapchat and using advanced technology to proactively find and shut down dealers, block drug search results, and work closely with law enforcement to protect information and accounts and support their investigations. . . .”

In a statement, Discord said it had increased the number of trust and security staff in recent years before cutting it by 2024. Discord says it has 22 full-time employees dedicated to trust and security in 2019. By 2023, Discord said that this team is. increased to 90 employees. In 2024, the team shrank to 74 full-time employees before 2021, after the company went through a series of layoffs.

In addition to its full-time workforce, Discord said it has been steadily growing its contract workforce, which currently includes “400 additional contract agents, including external, virtual Special Operations Center and other support functions.”

Meta did not respond to written questions about the trust and security staff and said it would respond further. In CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony at the January meeting, he said about 40,000 people “work on safety and security” at Meta. In February 2023, NBC News cited In response to news of layoffs at one of Meta’s main content moderation contractors in Africa.

A representative of the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement: “The Committee has granted Mark Zuckerberg several extensions to answer ‘Questions for the Record.’ However, six weeks after receiving the QFRs – and four weeks after the original deadline for responses – Mr Zuckerberg has answered only a small fraction of members’ questions. QFRs are a critical information-gathering tool for Congressional hearings, and Mr. Zuckerberg knows this well after numerous appearances before Congress. His lack of urgency to respond to members’ questions further proves that neither he nor his company is committed to protecting children online. “It is more important than ever that the Senate pass our children’s online safety legislation and finally hold Big Tech accountable.”

A representative did not immediately respond to a request for additional information about the committee’s appeals to Zuckerberg.

“We are working diligently to respond to the more than 500 questions for the record that we received following the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone told NBC News.

While TikTok did not provide historical data, it told senators it has 40,000 employees dealing with trust and security issues. TikTok has not disclosed how many people are currently employed by the company.



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