I’ve received a nasty feeling about this.
Amongst X’s numerous moderation challenges with its decreased workers pool, little one safety has turn into a key concern, with X CEO Linda Yaccarino set to look earlier than Congress subsequent week to clarify the platform’s ongoing efforts to fight little one sexual exploitation (CSE) materials.
With that in thoughts, X has as we speak reiterated its evolving methods to fight CSE, whereas it’s additionally introduced a plan to construct a brand new “Belief and Security middle of excellence” in Texas, with a purpose to enhance its responsiveness in addressing this aspect.
As reported by Bloomberg:
“[X] goals to rent 100 full-time content material moderators on the new location, in response to Joe Benarroch, head of enterprise operations at X. The group will concentrate on combating materials associated to little one sexual exploitation, however will assist implement the social media platform’s different guidelines, which embody restrictions on hate speech and violent posts, he added.”
Which is sweet, addressing CSE needs to be a precedence, and extra staffing on this space to concentrate on this and different dangerous components, is clearly essential.
On one hand, this could possibly be seen as a proactive response to reassure lawmakers, whereas additionally bettering X’s enchantment to advert companions, however I’ve a sneaking suspicion that one other, extra controversial plan could possibly be at play on this case.
Again in 2022, Twitter explored the potential for enabling grownup content material creators to promote subscriptions within the app, in an effort to faucet into OnlyFans’ $2.5b self-made content material market.
Grownup content material is already very current on X, and readily accessible, so the logical step to earn more money for the platform was to monetize this, leaning into this aspect, slightly than simply turning a blind eye to it.
So why didn’t Twitter undergo with it?
As reported by The Verge:
“Earlier than the ultimate go-ahead to launch, Twitter convened 84 staff to type what it referred to as a “Pink Workforce.” The objective was “to pressure-test the choice to permit grownup creators to monetize on the platform, by particularly specializing in what it will appear like for Twitter to do that safely and responsibly”. What the Pink Workforce found derailed the venture: Twitter couldn’t safely permit grownup creators to promote subscriptions as a result of the corporate was not – and nonetheless shouldn’t be – successfully policing dangerous sexual content material on the platform.”
As you’ll have guessed, essentially the most regarding components raised on account of this exploration had been little one sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity.
As a result of X couldn’t adequately police CSE, enabling the monetization of porn was a significant danger, and with a portion of massive title advertisers additionally prone to bolt because of the platform leaning into extra risqué materials, Twitter administration opted to not go on this path, regardless of the assumption that it may internet the corporate a major income windfall if it did.
However possibly now, with X’s advert income nonetheless down 50%, and large title advertisers already pausing their advert spend, X is reconsidering this plan, and could possibly be gearing as much as broaden into grownup content material subscriptions.
The indicators are all there. X lately signed a brand new take care of BetMGM to show playing odds in-stream, one other controversial aspect that different social apps have steered away from prior to now, whereas it’s additionally now pitching itself as a “video first platform” because it strikes in direction of Elon Musk’s “all the things app” imaginative and prescient.
An all the things app would logically incorporate grownup content material as effectively, and regardless of the extra value of assigning a brand new staff to police CSE violations, possibly, X sees a technique to offset that outlay with an all-new monetization avenue, by enabling grownup content material creators to succeed in many tens of millions extra individuals with their work.
Undoubtedly, X wants the cash now greater than it did when it first thought-about the proposal in 2022.
As famous, X’s essential advert earnings stream remains to be effectively down on earlier ranges, whereas Musk’s buy of the app has additionally saddled it with mortgage debt of round $1.5 billion per 12 months. So regardless of Musk’s large cost-cutting, X remains to be unlikely to interrupt even, not to mention become profitable. And with advertisers nonetheless avoiding the app as a consequence of Musk’s controversial remarks, it wants new pathways to construct its enterprise.
Spending tens of millions on a brand new moderation middle has to have a direct profit, and whereas appeasing advertisers and regulators is essential, I don’t assume that CSE, at this stage, is what’s conserving advert companions away.
Value noting, too, that X has made a particular notice of this utilization stat in its announcement:
“Whereas X shouldn’t be the platform of alternative for youngsters and minors – customers between 13-17 account for lower than 1% of our U.S day by day customers – now we have made it tougher for dangerous actors to share or interact with CSE materials on X, whereas concurrently making it less complicated for our customers to report CSE content material.”
It looks as if one thing else is coming, and that X is making ready for an additional push, and I might not be stunned in any respect if it’s revisiting its grownup content material plan.
That is, in fact, hypothesis, and solely these inside X know its precise technique transferring ahead.
However given X’s freedom of speech push, and its want for extra money, don’t be stunned if it takes a step on this path someday quickly.