A Twitter logo is seen on a computer screen in this photo illustration on October 30, 2017.
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As social media comes under increasing scrutiny, Twitter’s efforts to cultivate a diverse and balanced platform will come as much from its employment agenda as its user policy, the company’s Asia-Pacific head told CNBC.
Maya Hari, Twitter’s vice president for APAC, said the company has “work to do” amid ongoing concerns that social media is damaging public discourse. But she insisted that its ambitious diversity goals would help bring a greater balance of voices to the site.
Hari’s comments were made prior to last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol and Twitter’s subsequent move to permanently suspend President Donald Trump’s account over fears of “further incitement of violence.”
“The health of the conversation, the ability to have every voice represented, has been a big priority and a strategy for us for years,” Hari said.
“If we want to build a platform as Twitter that has a place and a voice for every person on this planet, we have to be able to represent those kinds of voices inside the company as well,” she continued.
Currently, women account for 42% of Twitter’s global workforce — a figure the company hopes to raise to 50% by 2025. By then, it aims for at least 25% of its U.S. operations to be from underrepresented minorities.
Hari said the Asia-Pacific business does not have specific targets for minority representation due to the varied ethnic make up of each country. Instead, managers have been asked to build a “diverse slate” of employees.
Maya Hari, Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific.
“As we go outside of the U.S., that reality changes market to market depending on the constitution locally,” said Hari.
Growth markets, such as those in Southeast Asia, offer a particular opportunity to implement those hiring policies. That, in turn, will enable employees to “bring more voices from Southeast Asia and represent them” through community projects.
Twitter is currently working with youth gamers in Japan, women in India and indigenous communities in Australia, for instance, to bring better representation to the social media site, Hari noted.
“Impact for us is not only to think about how do we get the right representation inside the company, but also to get the right representation externally on the platform,” she said.
The events of last week and evidence that social platforms were used to orchestrate the attack have once again sparked the debate around regulation of the industry and its role in encouraging extremism.
On Wednesday, following the Capitol riots, Twitter suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated content related to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.
In comments prior to the unrest, Hari said Twitter was using a combination of “product, people and policy” to ensure that it was amplifying positive conversations and catching toxic ones that need to be looked at.
Currently, 50% of questionable content is caught proactively through a combination of “technology and human intervention,” while the rest were reported by users, the company said.
The company has also introduced a series of new capabilities, such as prompts to check whether users have read an article before sharing it.
“We have expressed our desire to be the best tech company, as an aspiration for us to be the most diverse, the most inclusive tech company we can be,” said Hari.