(The Hill) — Ella Irwin, a former employee for Twitter, now known as X, said working for billionaire Elon Musk after his acquisition of the company was the “hardest experience.”
Irwin became head of trust and safety for the company, lasting only seven more months before resigning after Musk publicly criticized actions taken at the company surrounding the issue of misgendering.
“It absolutely was the hardest experience that I’ve gone through in my career,” Irwin, 48, said In an interview with NBC News.
She said she resigned rather suddenly from the company because it became clear that “there was no longer alignment” between her “nonnegotiable principles” and the company.
“One was this notion of freedom of speech versus freedom of reach,” Irwin said. “It was important to me that there was an understanding that hate speech, for example, violent graphic content, things like that, were not promoted, advertised, amplified.”
Her comments come as X is facing criticism for its handling of misinformation and violent content around the Israel-Hamas war.
Musk is considering removing access to the platform in Europe, Insider reported.
While Irwin said the spread of misinformation is “extremely upsetting,” she said X is not alone in it’s struggle.
“There is no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of people heads down, doing everything they can to solve for this,” she said. “I think about the damage that misinformation at scale can do to the product experience, the customer experience, to society. It’s one of the most important problems we need to solve for.”
Irwin told NBC News that she is still under a nondisclosure agreement with the company, but plans to speak more about her experience as an employee in her new podcast, “The CryRoom.”
She joined the company in June 2022 — after Musk had agreed to buy Twitter but had not yet taken control. Irwin said she had never “seen anything like” the massive layoffs that began when Musk officially took over.
Irwin said “there’s more emotion behind” Musk’s decisions than she would have thought, and that “contributes to some of the impulsiveness.”
The former employee offered Musk one compliment, saying his is “very good at questioning everything, boiling things down” and that strategy can be powerful in driving change quickly.
Several months after working with Musk, Irwin resigned over an issue of freedom of speech. Posts about an anti-transgender documentary had been restricted on the platform, launching messaging from conservative supporters of the film that they were being censored.
Musk ultimately blamed the censorship on others at the company and brushed off the debate over “preferred pronouns.” Irwin said she left because “there was no longer alignment to those core principles.”
Irwin told NBC News that she would consider coming back to work at X, but a lot of change would have to happen, and she doesn’t know if “that would happen anytime soon.”
“I’m a big believer in giving people the ability to make the decisions that are right for them,” she added later. “Who they want to follow, what they don’t want to see, they should be able to create and choose their own adventure.”