Elon Musk accuses gay former Twitter employee of sexualising children

A photo of Elon Musk wearing a tuxedo at the 2022 Met Gala

Elon Musk has accused his gay former Twitter employee of sexualising children, with an out-of-context paragraph from his PhD thesis on Grindr.

Until last month, Yoel Roth was Twitter’s head of trust and safety, responsible for content moderation on the platform.

Roth provoked the wrath of right-wing social media users after he oversaw former president Donald Trump’s Twitter ban, with many claiming the move was politically biased because he had previously described Trump as a “racist tangerine”, and not a reaction to the Capitol riots.

Nevertheless, Roth retained Musk’s support when the billionaire purchased the social media platform this year, with Musk tweeting in October that Roth was a person who “has high integrity”.

But it seems Musk took it personally when Roth resigned last month, saying that Twitter was now “ruled by dictatorial edict rather than by policy”.

When a Twitter user shared a 2010 tweet of Roth’s, linking to an article about the legality of adult students having sexual relationships with teachers, Musk responded: “This explains a lot.”

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He then posted a screenshot of a single paragraph of Roth’s PhD thesis, and said: “Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult internet services.”

Roth wrote his communications PhD dissertation on the ways in which queer social networking services like Grindr make use of user data.

In one section, he explains that although Grindr is for users aged 18 and above, under-18s certainly still use the app.

He notes that “the new medium of gay-targeted social networking may be a crucial social outlet for gay, bisexual, and questioning youth”, but adds that “Grindr may well be too lewd or too hook-up-oriented to be a safe and age-appropriate resource for teenagers”.

Roth goes on to call for service providers to “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”.

However, the implication that Roth was sexualising children in his thesis took off, with many right-wing users desperate to vilify him.

Following Elon Musk’s tweet, Yoel Roth has reportedly fled his home

The screenshot was picked up by the far-right account Libs of TikTok, which tweeted: “No wonder Twitter banned the word groomer. Presumably, the former head of ‘trust and safety’ [Yoel Roth] made that decision. It’s all making sense now.”

According to CNN, “a person familiar with the matter” reported that Roth has had to flee his home with his partner due to increasingly violent threats.