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X Strengthens Trust and Safety Leadership Amidst Advertiser Concerns

Published April 04, 2024
2 months ago

X, the social media platform undergoing significant evolution since acquisition by Elon Musk, has taken another deliberate step in reshaping its operational framework by appointing a new head of safety—Kylie McRoberts. Amidst concerns from various quarters, especially advertisers, McRoberts is set to oversee content policies and rules at a time when the platform’s standing with advertisers is on uneven ground.

Stepping into a role that has witnessed frequent turnover since Musk's takeover, McRoberts represents the third executive to take the helm of the crucial trust and safety division within a short span. This division is particularly important as it directly oversees the type and nature of content that makes it onto the platform—a hot-button issue that has seen major advertisers recoil and halt their spending.

Musk’s vision for X is of a bastion of free speech, a platform where diverse opinions can flourish. However, the interpretation and execution of this vision have not been without pushback. The departure of Yoel Roth soon after Musk’s acquisition, followed by Ella Irwin’s exit, underlines the turbulence experienced within the platform’s trust and safety leadership.

Further heightening X’s challenges is the ad revenue decline, which saw a significant loss—halved, as reported by Bloomberg. Notably, last year witnessed major advertisers like Walt Disney Co. and Apple Inc. pausing their ad spending, in part due to a report that tarnished the site, linking their brand promotions with objectionable, pro-Nazi content.

In a move set to address these concerns and restore advertiser confidence, X also announced the hire of Yale Cohen, a former executive at Publicis Media. Cohen’s focus will be on reestablishing a sense of safety and suitability for advertisers on the platform, which is imperative for retaining and attracting back lost ad revenue.

The shift in the safety division comes as X undertakes testing for online groups that cater to "adult content" and other "not safe for work" material. This controversial step is indicative of Musk's continued support for content that pushes the boundaries of what some deem acceptable, yet it is a move that is seen as antithetical to advertiser interests.

Linda Yaccarino, X’s CEO, voiced firm commitment to ensuring the coexistence of safety and freedom of speech in a companywide email, with the safety team operating around the clock to align with the stated mission.

As X navigates these internal shifts and external pressures, the focus remains not only on the platform's operational ethos but also on its financial viability, where advertisers play a pivotal role. McRoberts's appointment is poised to be a critical factor in steering X towards a more stable and ad-friendly future.

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