Twitter owner Elon Musk publicly flamed the company’s former head of Trust & Safety Yoel Roth following revelations that he encouraged assisting children in finding adult-themed relationships online.
On Saturday, Musk responded to a resurfaced post from Roth in 2018 that asked if high school students can “meaningfully” consent to with their teachers along with an article linking to Salon.
Can high school students ever meaningfully consent to sex with their teachers? http://bit.ly/bbpH68
— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) November 20, 2010
Musk gave a response to the disturbing post that involved a quote from Roth’s Ph.D. thesis — which covered gay hook-up platform Grindr in depth.
“Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his Ph.D. thesis,” Musk said online.
Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis: pic.twitter.com/1NiBohjhMQ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2022
Roth wrote in his paper that Grindr should be “safely connecting queer young adults” — even minor children.
Many have joked that Roth earned a ph.D. in the ‘study of Grinder’, often also pointing out that his interests may bring an explanation as to why Twitter banned use of the word “groomer” last summer.
It was last July when Twitter health product communications lead Lauren Alexander wrote in an email, “We are committed to combating abuse motivated by hatred, prejudice, or intolerance, particularly abuse that seeks to silence the voices of those who have been historically marginalized. For this reason, we prohibit behavior that targets individuals or groups with abuse based on their perceived membership in a protected category. Use of this term [groomer] is prohibited under our Hateful Conduct policy when it is used as a descriptor, in context of discussion of gender identity.”
Fox News host Tucker Carlson was one of many conservative political commentators who discussed Roth’s academic history.
“Yoel Roth received a Ph.D. in the study of Grindr, the gay … hookup app from a place called UPenn, the University of Pennsylvania, purportedly an Ivy League school you should be impressed by,” he said on his show.
“We’re not making this up by the way. Grindr appears more than 800 times in his research. And UPenn gave him a Ph.D. for that. So whatever you think of that, how did that get Yoel Roth into the position that he occupied at Twitter where he was in charge of what you were allowed to say and think. Well, the one qualification we know Yoel Roth did have is he does not believe in free speech, period. And he made that very clear in an interview last week,” continued Carlson.
These claims appear to be substantiated. A look at Roth’s published work does seem to demonstrate that he has at least a small passion for discussing gay hook-up culture. Roth’s own LinkedIn profile additionally writes that his published work focuses on “the now-ubiquitous technologies of mobile app stores and online dating sites to study how the interplay of design and engineering choices and platform policies enable and constrain opportunities for self-expression, data protection, and physical safety.”