Twitter is going through turbulent times in its existence.
And no, we're not referring to the fact that Elon Musk first announced his intention to buy the social network in a deal worth an impressive $44 billion, then backed out, arguing that he didn't get clear information about bots and fake profiles.
It’s about Twitter’s attempts to adapt to the changing social networking market and user demands. Even when it involves porn.
Thus, at the beginning of 2022, the idea of a very serious change to the platform to allow users to upload adult content was discussed. This content is available to others for a monthly subscription, from which the social network collects a percentage.
Yes, Twitter management has been looking for ways to create a clone of OnlyFans where the same practice is in place.
At least that’s according to an investigation by The Verge, based on interviews and 58 pages of documents obtained by investigative journalists.
Such a decision certainly carries with it many risks, especially as to how the public and advertisers will react. However, it is also tempting.
The OnlyFans platform, which allows members to upload their content – including pornographic content – for a subscription fee, is expected to generate $2.5 billion in revenue in 2022, indicating that there is room for profit in such a business.
An opportunity that some of Twitter’s bosses saw. Creators of nude content on OnlyFans already now use Twitter to promote their paid profiles on the other platform.
Thus, according to The Verge’s investigation, resources were allocated to create a new project – ACM, short for Adult Content Monetization – monetization of adult content.
Like OnlyFans, but on Twitter
The company collects 84 employees in the so-called “Red Team”. The aim is to test whether the decision to allow the creators of such content to monetize the platform is a good one. The main focus is on how the social network can offer such a service “safely and responsibly”.
The revelations of the “Red Team” actually hinder the project – porn for money cannot be allowed, because the company still does not manage to qualitatively fight against unacceptable sexual content, and what remains if everyone is allowed to upload one, which then will require more moderation.
The conclusion of this “Red Team” from April 2022 states that “Twitter cannot effectively detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity”, i.e. content uploaded or created without the knowledge or against the will of the persons filmed.
It also appears that the company has no tools to verify the true age of both creators and users to ensure they are of legal age.
So, in the end, the project was postponed in May of this year, a few weeks before Elon Musk agreed to buy the company for 44 billion dollars.
Resolved that the ACM platform ie. a subscription-based adult content service, cannot be released until Twitter has more safety measures in place.
“Twitter has zero tolerance for the sexual exploitation of children. We aggressively fight child abuse online and have invested significantly in technology and tools to enforce our policy,” company spokeswoman Kathy Roseborough said in the company’s defense.
Verge’s investigation also claims that Twitter was aware 15 months earlier that it did not have good enough tools to detect child sexual exploitation content.
Officials claim that despite management recommendations, insufficient resources have been allocated to detect, remove and prevent such content on the platform.
One problem is scale—Twitter has 229 million daily users, which presents challenges in content moderation. Other issues are purely internal, such as the company not having a machine learning system to recognize such content in tweets or live videos.
Company spokeswoman Roseborough defended Twitter, saying that since February 2021, the company has significantly increased investment in detecting such illegal content. Even now, when the economic situation has slowed the pace of hiring new employees, four people are being sought to be responsible for child safety.
On trial with Musk
The Verge investigation comes as Twitter prepares for a major legal battle. At the end of August, Elon Musk’s lawyers listed more reasons for the billionaire to abandon the deal to acquire Twitter for $44 billion.
Among these additional reasons are the claims of Petar Zatko, the company’s former head of security. Earlier in August, he said the social network was “extremely deficient” in what was being done to protect personal data, security, and content moderation.
Zatko claims that Twitter is extremely “vulnerable to system outages” as a result of technical problems or malicious individuals or organizations.
However, the company points out that Zatko’s claims lack “important context” and that there are “ambiguities and inaccuracies” in them. That is why they claim that what the former employee said cannot be an argument for the deal with Musk not to take place. They explain that Zatko himself was fired in January 2022 because of “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”
The case between Twitter and Musk goes to trial in the state of Delaware on October 18. The goal of the billionaire is to refuse the deal to buy the social network, and the company itself – to force him to fulfill the commitment to buy it.
This article originally appeared on Discover Politics