Letter to Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter - Castro, Cárdenas, Luján, Menendez Lead Colleagues Urging Twitter to Restore Protections for Spanish-speaking Users


Dear Mr. Musk:

We have serious concerns regarding reports of Twitter terminating a large majority of its contractors working domestically and abroad. These layoffs may have harmful and long-lasting consequences for user safety across the platform, especially for Spanish-language and other non-English language users.

Social media companies, including Twitter, have long outsourced content moderation, one of the most difficult and critical responsibilities on the platform, to overseas contractors. Twitter tasks these workers with reviewing illegal, harmful, and traumatic content in order to ensure the safety of the platform's users. Twitter relies on these contractors for critical language skills and a deep understanding of the cultural context of the market to ensure users are protected from harassment, scams, and content that violates the platform's existing policies.

All users deserve the same level of protection from harassment, fraud, and illegal activity regardless of the language they speak at home. Despite this core principle, online platforms have regularly failed to consistently enforce their existing policies across non-English languages, including Spanish. These gaps in enforcement leave communities vulnerable to bad actors who specifically target these languages with harassment, fraud and disinformation. This was particularly damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Spanish-language users in the U.S. and abroad were inundated with disinformation about the virus and vaccination efforts. Reports of a spike in racial harassment over the past weeks on Twitter proves that this issue requires immediate attention. As such, we are deeply concerned that Twitter may have fired critical staff working to protect users who speak these languages. This comes in the wake of other news that Twitter may have already undermined users' safety on the platform as a result of other recent layoffs, the departure of Twitter's Global Head of Safety & Integrity, and the elimination of teams responsible for overseeing its ethical AI and algorithmic transparency initiatives.

These workers provided a critical service to Twitter and its users, and reports of their mass and abrupt termination raises serious concerns. Please provide information regarding how Twitter plans to enforce its policies and provide its non-English language users with the level of service and protections they deserve.

How many staff and contractors has Twitter cut who were previously responsible for content moderation? Please provide an account of the staffing level both prior to November 2022, and after the staffing cuts broken down by the following:
Country in which the employee is permanently stationed; and
Language fluency and markets served.
Following the reported staffing cuts, will Twitter maintain the amount of content that it reviews in its original language? What was this ratio prior to, and immediately following the change in staffing?
How will you ensure that the algorithmic processes detecting illegal content and harmful material that otherwise violates Twitter's policies are equally effective across all languages in which the platform operates?
What support services, including mental health counseling, are currently available to content moderators globally? What percentage of content moderators use these support services? Do you intend to change any of those offerings as part of ongoing restructuring at Twitter?
Twitter recently announced an expansion of its curation program to Latin America, Spain and the US. How will the most recent layoffs impact these efforts?
We look forward to your response, which we request by December 6th, 2022.