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Twitter reportedly knew Spaces could be abused due to a lack of moderation


Since its debut earlier this year, hundreds of people have reportedly joined in live audio discussions led by “Taliban supporters, white nationalists, and anti-vaccine activists sowing disinformation about the coronavirus.” according to And Twitter didn’t have the moderation tools needed to combat bullying, calls for violence, and hate speech in Spaces before the competitor was introduced — even though executives know that could potentially lead to abuse.

Spaces do not have human moderators or technology that can monitor audio in real time. Automatically reviewing audio is more difficult than text. So far, Twitter has relied on the community to report on Spaces they believe are in violation of the company’s rules. However, if a host used the feature as a TV show to share anti-transgender, racist, or bigoted views (), and their audience agreed with it, it seemed unlikely that the listener would report the discussion to Twitter’s security team.

According to the report, Twitter’s technology has helped spread some of these discussions. As these spaces were garnering large audiences, the systems realized they were popular, and promoted them to more users. Twitter spokeswoman Viviana Wewal told the newspaper Mail The supposed error has been handled.

“Ensuring the safety of people and encouraging healthy conversations, while helping hosts and listeners to take control of their experience, have been a major priority since the inception of [Spaces’] development,” Wiewall told the publication. Wiewall noted that the company is “exploring avenues” in terms of tweaking spaces in real time, “but that is not something we have available at this time.”

The spokesperson noted that Twitter has some security measures in place. It can scan space headings for keywords that raise red flags, but modified spelling can ensure that problem words are bypassed with filters.

Twitter employees are said to have raised concerns about unsupervised live audio rooms, but some of those who suggested the company should slow down and work on technology to improve safety have been fired or excluded from meetings. Leaders in the spaces have progressed anyway, at least in part to satisfy investors by accelerating product development and generating more revenue.

Since August, hosts who meet certain criteria are now able to do so, with Twitter downgrading. The company has been chasing revenue sources other than advertising, including and. There have been issues with some of these products as well. Tip Jar feature, in which users can send payments to each other as tips, via certain types of PayPal transactions.

Engadget has reached out to Twitter for comment.

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