Elon Musk’s X names new head of safety, more than a year after former safety leader’s exit

Clare Duffy, CNN | 4/2/2024, 12:49 p.m.
Elon Musk’s social media platform X on Tuesday announced it’s hiring a new head of safety as it faces ongoing …

Elon Musk’s social media platform X on Tuesday announced it’s hiring a new head of safety as it faces ongoing scrutiny over the spread of hateful speech, conspiracy theories and other controversial content on the platform.

Kylie McRoberts — a nearly four-year veteran of the company formerly known as Twitter — will oversee the company’s global safety team and work to build out a new safety hub in Austin, Texas, that CEO Linda Yaccarino announced in January.

McRoberts’ elevation to the role comes more than a year after the company’s former safety leader, Yoel Roth, who oversaw what was then called the Trust and Safety team, resigned in the wake of Musk’s takeoverSince then, X has walked back safety measures, restored the accounts of White supremacists and other rule violators and declined to remove pro-Nazi content.

X also announced on Tuesday that it hired Yale Cohen, a former executive at marketing firm Publicis Media, as its head of brand safety and advertising solutions. Cohen’s hire comes amid ongoing efforts at X to encourage advertisers to return to the platform.

But both new leaders could face the same challenge Yaccarino has encountered in trying to revive the X brand: Musk himself. Musk has drawn ire for increasingly using his X presence to elevate radical, far-right conspiracy theories, including “Pizzagate” and the racist Great Replacement theory.

In its announcement, X said McRoberts has previously worked on other X safety features including labels that inform a user if their content is being restricted. Going forward, her team will be responsible for “developing new products, tools, and features to protect our platform and community, maintaining our Safety policies, and enhancing our enforcement methodology and operations,” X said.

Yaccarino testified about safety on X before a Senate committee in January, alongside other social media CEOs. In a document submitted to the committee following the hearing, Yaccarino said X has around 2,300 people who work on trust and safety and content moderation, although it was unclear if those are all full-time employees.

McRoberts previously worked in privacy and cybersecurity roles at Google, including on safe web browsing efforts. Her background could indicate a changing perspective on “safety” at X, one that is less focused on content moderation, which Musk has expressed distaste for.

In a post last month, Musk said he would change the name of X’s “Trust and Safety” team to simply the “Safety” team.

“Any organization that puts ‘Trust’ in their name cannot trusted, as that is obviously a euphemism for censorship. We are changing the name of our Trust & Safety group, to simply @Safety,” Musk said. “Trust is something that must be earned. The goal of our Safety team is simply to ensure compliance with the laws that already exist to protect the people.”