Skip to main content

Twitter policy chief faces wave of harassment amid Musk criticism

Twitter policy chief faces wave of harassment amid Musk criticism


Employees are reportedly concerned about getting put on blast

Share this story

The Twitter bird logo in white against a dark background with outlined logos around it and red circles rippling out from it.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter’s policy and legal head Vijaya Gadde is facing criticism from new owner Elon Musk and harassment from Twitter users while trying to shepherd Twitter’s moderation team into a new era. Politico reported yesterday on a team meeting where Gadde acknowledged (in the article’s words) “significant uncertainties” about the future of Twitter under Musk.

Musk then replied to a tweet from conservative journalist Saagar Enjeti criticizing Gadde. Enjeti had linked to a screenshot of the story, calling Gadde Twitter’s “top censorship advocate” and claiming she “censored the Hunter Biden laptop story” by temporarily and confusingly banning links to a New York Post story about President Joe Biden’s son. “Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate,” Musk tweeted in response. Musk had previously indicated he will push for a version of Twitter with lighter moderation, a move that could involve scaling back a decade of gradual change under Gadde.

Gadde faced vitriolic and racist invective on Twitter in the wake of Musk’s response, as noted by Financial Times correspondent Dave Lee. She’s also not the only employee Musk has drawn negative attention to. He separately replied to a tweet from far-right writer Mike Cernovich claiming Twitter deputy general counsel Jim Baker “facilitated fraud,” saying the claim “sounds pretty bad.”

Musk is officially banned from “disparaging” Twitter as part of the merger agreement, and his initial engagement with both employees was oblique. But his active social media presence means many Twitter users quickly dogpiled both of them — often, in Gadde’s case, mocking her for a Politico headline saying she cried at the meeting. Musk then escalated his attack on Gadde more directly on Wednesday afternoon, tweeting a meme image about “Twitter’s left-wing bias” that featured her.

According to The Washington Post, the threat of drawing Musk’s online ire has caused concern internally, with employees reportedly asking in a Monday town hall meeting “for assurance that they would be able to safely do their jobs if Musk targeted them.” Gadde, notably, was not the highest-level executive involved in the New York Post saga — then-CEO Jack Dorsey publicly apologized for the decision to block the New York Post story, which he said had been “wrong,” while Gadde also announced changes to the policy.

Dorsey has not responded publicly to Musk’s new comments.

It’s not clear how much harassment Gadde would have faced even without Musk’s direct involvement. She’s a long-standing target of people who oppose Twitter’s moderation policies and was already in the spotlight because of the internal events reported by Politico.

If anything, the conflict’s primary lesson might be how unpleasant Twitter’s design can already be for even its own employees in ways that Musk’s changes might only exacerbate. Musk has promoted his purchase of Twitter in idealistic terms, calling it an opportunity to foster a “digital town square” where most legal speech is tolerated. (This apparently won’t extend to automated accounts, a decision that could pose its own problems.) But at a more pragmatic level, anti-harassment tools and stricter rules are a way to improve Twitter’s user experience for its most active accounts. Twitter’s moderation team will need to recalibrate those rules to suit Musk’s new direction for the site — although, with months to go before the deal closes, that may not happen for some time.

Update 3:45PM ET: Added news of a later Musk tweet directly focusing on Gadde.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago Striking out

Andrew WebsterTwo hours ago
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.

External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.

External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.

James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.