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X CEO Linda Yaccarino stepped in to remove a pro-Hitler post in an apparent divergence from Elon Musk's 'free speech absolutism'

X CEO Linda Yaccarino at a conference
X CEO Linda Yaccarino stepped in to remove a viral, antisemitic tweet that appeared to come from a member of the Pakistan Senate, The Information reported.Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media
  • X CEO Linda Yaccarino stepped in to remove a viral pro-Hitler post, The Information reports.

  • The post was a photo of Hitler captioned "at least now the world know, why he did, what he did."

  • Hate speech and misinformation have run rampant on X since Elon Musk's takeover in 2022.

X owner Elon Musk has been an unapologetically vocal proponent of free speech. But over the weekend, a post supporting Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust surfaced on the X page of a politician in Pakistan. This post enraged X staffers – and apparently crossed the line for CEO Linda Yaccarino.

The post in question appeared on the X page belonging to Afnan Ullah Khan, a member of the Senate in Pakistan, The Jerusalem Post reported. It included a photo of Hitler with the caption, "At least now the world know, why he did, what he did." The post was met with a wave of criticism — and was viewed about a million times over several hours, according to The Information — before being removed.

Behind the scenes, X staff was scrambling. Advertisers were apparently threatening to cut off spending if the post wasn't removed, according to The Information. Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Information that the post was eventually removed after Yaccarino got involved.

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The post was apparently removed because it went against X's policies, according to The Information, not to save face with advertisers. The company told the news site that Yaccarino sent the post to X's global escalation team, which then got the post taken down. However, some staffers were upset by the situation, feeling that executives were slow to act.

Ever since the Israel-Hamas conflict began last month, misinformation has been running rampant on social media, with X being one of the main forums. One expert previously told Insider that Elon Musk is to blame for the proliferation of misinformation on X due to the changes he made.

One of these changes included a major cut to X's trust and safety team, from 230 to 20 people, as reported by Insider's Kali Hays. Amid the Israel-Gaza conflict, misinformation has flooded the site and X's smaller team is unable to keep up.

About a month after Musk's takeover of X, then called Twitter, in October 2022, a report from the European Commission found that the social media site was both slower at responding to reports of hate speech and was less likely to remove content reported for hate speech.

This rise in hate speech has included a rise in antisemitism. In the week following Elon Musk's takeover, the Center for Countering Hate found that antisemitic slurs were posted at a 22% higher rate. The New York Times reported that antisemitic tweets rose 61% two weeks after Musk's takeover.

Musk previously described himself as a "free speech absolutist," which is evident in his hands-off approach to moderating hate speech and misinformation. Yaccarino's response to the Hitler tweet shows that she may have a slightly different approach to moderation.

The day before the tweet, in an October 27 blog post, Yaccarino asserted that safety is a "critical priority" for the X team. She also said the team is still working to "combat bad actors and consistently enforce our rules in areas such as hate speech, platform manipulation, child safety, impersonation, civic integrity, and more."

X has not responded to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider