Interpreting Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino Based on Recent Events

On October 27, 2022, Elon Musk acquired Twitter. Last month, CEO Linda Yaccarino acknowledged her employer’s contributions in a blog post titled “One Year in, the Future of X Is Bright”:

October 27 marks the one-year anniversary of this platform under new ownership and management.

While the headline is optimistic, this opening sentence has the tone and structure of recognizing the one-year anniversary of a natural disaster.

I am incredibly proud of the work our team has been doing to accelerate the future of X.

So let me share with you where we stand today:

Yaccarino remains surprised how often a team of people can rush to build features announced on a whim. Also, she insists on calling this platform “X” instead of its real full name “X, formerly known as Twitter” — or “Twitter”, for short.

Here are some key points from this twenty-three item list:

Freedom of expression. X is now a place where everyone can freely express themselves, so long as they do so within the bounds of the law. We believe open and respectful discourse is the single best way for humanity to thrive.

Yaccarino is proud that Twitter extends its permissiveness to the limit of local laws, which means it would rather censor users in Turkey than withdraw its services in protest. Also, it is only to happy to censor posts worldwide critical of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Also, its owner threatens lawsuits in the U.S. against legal speech. That is the kind of free expression Yaccarino is proud of for Twitter.

Safety. Safety on X remains a critical priority – our work is not done, but we are making real progress. Our trust and safety team is working around the clock to combat bad actors and consistently enforce our rules in areas such as hate speech, platform manipulation, child safety, impersonation, civic integrity and more. We also remain committed to privacy and data protection.

Unless hate speech, civic integrity, or privacy violations are committed by Twitter’s owner.

Partnerships. Our team also has ongoing dialogue with external groups to keep up to date with potential risks and support the safety of the platform – partners like the Technology Coalition, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

Yaccarino’s reference to a “dialogue” with the Anti-Defamation League includes legal threats.

User base. Over half a billion of the world’s most informed and influential people come to X every month. That’s inclusive of our efforts to aggressively remove spam and inauthentic accounts – a step we believe is critical to improve the X user experience and grow the platform. We continue to see sign-ups average around 1.5 million per day.

Yaccarino is proud to consider Cat Turd informed, influential, and a person.

Brand safety and suitability. X advertisers now have a level of control that largely did not exist one year ago. Thanks to new products like Adjacency Controls, Sensitivity Settings and third party measurement partnerships with industry leaders Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify, the average brand safety score on X is now >99%, and we are now seeing brand suitability scores at >97% when these controls are applied.

Twitter’s brand unsuitability is about three percent, and its safety controls have not prevented ads from Apple and Xfinity from appearing in explicitly pro-Nazi feeds. Ads from the University of Calgary are nestled between white supremacist tweets on a verified account which could plausibly be participating in revenue sharing.

Yaccarino, formerly the chair of global advertising for NBCUniversal, surely understands that it looks bad when her boss promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories, and can probably sympathize with IBM’s decision to pull a million dollars in advertising from the platform because it turns out the apparently small amount of brand risk is really bad. Yaccarino hopes Apple does not also pull its hefty ad spend or use its considerable platform to denounce her boss’ increasingly vocal endorsements of vile, hateful, and conspiratorial worldviews.

From Twitter to X. We transformed Twitter into X, the everything app, where everyone is increasingly connected to everything they care about. This move enabled us to evolve past a legacy mindset and reimagine how users around the world consume, interact, watch and, soon, transact – all in one seamless interface. We have become the modern global town square.

Yaccarino, who does not keep the company’s app on the first home screen of her iPhone, also does not open the App Store.

And if we can achieve all of this in just 12 months, just imagine the scope of our ambition for next year – from expanded search to newswires to payments, we are just getting started.

This is a threat.

One year in, the future of X is bright.

Not as bright as that fucking sign, but just as dangerous if you look at it for too long.