Twitter’s Former Head of Trust Once Argued for Minors Using Gay Dating App Grindr

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Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter continues to garner headlines as he draws attention to how the company has chosen to censor and suppress certain voices on the massive platform.

Recent revelations have drawn considerable attention to Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety and the man who would have overseen the platform’s enforcement of its oftentimes subjective community standards and any shadowbanning that may have been occurring.

Roth left the company ten days after Musk drew attention to him in a tweet, citing his unwillingness to continue to work at a company that was “ruled by dictatorial edict rather than by policy,” as Red Voice Media noted.

But it was a December 10th exchange Twitter’s new owner had with human trafficking awareness advocate Eliza Bleu that appears to have prompted him to dig deeper into his former employee’s past.

In a follow-up tweet, Musk then pointed his 121 million followers to a graduate dissertation that Roth penned which sought to argue why minors might not be able to network with peers “about their sexuality” on sexually explicit adult websites like Grindr.

For context, Twitter has drawn substantial criticism from conservatives over not just policy that has seen users suspended and banned for referring to men who identify as women as “men” and considers the term “groomer” to be anti-LGBT “hate speech,” but also the prevalence of child pornography on the platform.

Bleu had initially tagged the Twitter CEO in a retweet of a 2010 tweet in which Roth had linked to an article about a teacher who was charged for sexually assaulting a student and posed the question, “Can high school students ever meaningfully consent to sex with their teachers?”

“I think I may have found the problem,” Bleu wrote, tagging Musk, who replied, “This explains a lot.”

In a follow-up tweet, Musk wrote shared a screenshot of the same’s 2016 UPenn dissertation.

A portion of the paper, which appears to have been pulled from UPenn’s archives, follows (emphasis ours):

While gay youth-oriented chat rooms and social networking services were available in the early 2000s, these services have largely fallen by the wayside, in favor of general-purpose platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. Perhaps this is truly representative of an increasingly absent demand among young adults for networked spaces to engage with peers about their sexuality; but it’s worth considering how, if at all, the current generation of popular sites of gay networked sociability might fit into an overall queer social landscape that increasingly includes individuals under the age of 18. Even with the service’s extensive content management, Grindr may well be too lewd or too hook-up-oriented to be a safe and age-appropriate resource for teenagers; but the fact that people under 18 are on these services already indicates that we can’t readily dismiss these platforms out of hand as loci for queer youth culture. Rather than merely trying to absolve themselves of legal responsibility or, worse, trying to drive out teenagers entirely, service providers should instead focus on crafting safety strategies that can accommodate a wide variety of use cases for platforms like Grindr — including, possibly, their role in safely connecting queer young adults.

“Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his Ph.D. thesis,” Musk wrote.

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