During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on kids’ online safety, X CEO Linda Yaccarino provided insights into the platform’s user demographics and efforts to address child safety concerns. Yaccarino downplayed X’s reach among younger users, stating that less than 1% of the app’s U.S. users were teenagers aged 13 through 17. This disclosure was accompanied by the revelation that X had 90 million users in the U.S., a slight decrease from the reported 95.4 million users in January 2023, according to Statista data.
Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, now rebranded as X, marked a shift in the platform’s dynamics. While Musk claimed a total user base of 550 million monthly active users, it remained unclear if this figure included fake accounts such as bots and spammers. Yaccarino, however, highlighted X’s overall growth, mentioning that more than 10 million people signed up for X in December 2023.
Despite these positive figures, the data presented to the Senate suggests a potential year-over-year decline in the U.S., assuming accuracy in the 2023 market estimates. Market expectations align with this, given a Pew Research study indicating that a quarter of Twitter users expressed uncertainty about remaining on the platform a year later. X has faced increased competition from new entrants like Mastodon, Bluesky, and Instagram Threads, with third-party data suggesting a decline in X usage during Musk’s first year of ownership.
The hearing addressed X’s challenges, including criticisms for inadequate measures against child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and lawsuits from CSAM victims. Notably, X unblocked an account that had posted CSAM imagery. However, the lawmakers did not delve deeply into X’s plans to combat CSAM during the hearing, and the recent Taylor Swift deepfake porn incident was not raised.
Yaccarino sought to distance X from its predecessor, Twitter, emphasizing that X is a “14-month-old company” that has prioritized child protection and safety measures. She mentioned ongoing discussions about enhancing these measures with parental controls.
Concurrently, X shared that it suspended 12.4 million user accounts for violating its child sexual exploitation (CSE) policies in 2023, a significant increase from the 2.3 million accounts removed by Twitter in 2022. The company also sent 850,000 reports to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), indicating a proactive approach to addressing child safety concerns. However, interpretations of these figures may vary, suggesting either increased enforcement or a rise in CSAM-related activities on X.
Yaccarino also disclosed that X has 2,300 content moderators worldwide, a noteworthy increase considering the significant workforce reduction (80%) following Musk’s acquisition. X plans to rebuild its trust and safety teams, intending to hire 100 full-time moderators in Austin, Texas, signaling a commitment to bolstering its content moderation efforts.