Twitter’s former security chief says the platform is less secure under Elon Musk

In his first public interview since abruptly leaving Twitter, Yoel Roth, the company’s former head of trust and security, said he believes the platform is less secure under Elon Musk. Speaking at an event hosted by the Knight Foundation, Roth replied “I don’t” when asked if he still believed Twitter was more secure since Musk’s takeover.

Roth’s comments are particularly notable because he was one of the only top executives to publicly discuss what happened on Twitter in the chaotic days following Musk’s takeover. Roth, a longtime member of Twitter’s policy team, detailed the coordination that caused a spike in racial slurs on the platform. Musk often highlighted his tweets and pointed to his explanations of what Twitter was doing to stop the racist attacks.

But Roth said that while he was initially optimistic, a breakdown in “procedural legitimacy” prompted him to leave. He noted that Musk had stated that he wanted to form a “moderation council” before making major policy decisions on Twitter, but Musk quickly indicated that he would rather make decisions on his own.

“He would say things that were consistent with establishing a moderation board, that were consistent with not making capricious, one-sided decisions, and I was optimistic based on that,” Roth said. “My optimism eventually faded.”

Roth also pointed to the botched rollout of Twitter Blue and paid verification, saying his team had warned Musk in advance, but he chose to ignore their concerns. “It went off the rails exactly the way we expected, and there weren’t the security measures that should have been in place to address it beforehand,” Roth said, referring to fraud and impersonations that followed the initial rollout of Twitter Blue.

Roth’s comments come as Musk prepares for Twitter Blue verification later this week. In his latest comments, Musk has said that there will be different colors of badges for companies and individuals, and that there will be a manual approval process of some kind.

While Roth said he doesn’t believe Twitter will have a “spectacular moment of failure,” as some former employees have speculated after mass layoffs and resignations at the company, he said users should be very aware of whether key security features , such as blocking and muting , continue to function normally, as well as privacy-protecting features such as protected tweets. “If protected tweets stop working, run, because that’s a symptom that something is deeply wrong,” he said.

He also said that while Twitter may be able to improve its machine learning systems, the lack of veteran policy and security staff at the company would hurt the platform.

“Are there enough people who understand the new malicious campaigns happening on the service and understand it well enough to guide product strategy and policy direction,” he said. “I don’t think there are enough people left in the company to do that job.”

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