Twitter Exodus Hits Teams Tasked With Regulatory, Content Issues Globally

Elon Musk’s move to fire employees of Twitter Inc. those who do not follow his vision has created a divide between policy and security officials around the world, which raises questions from managers in large areas about the continued compliance of the site.

The staff departures in recent days include dozens of people spread across areas such as public policy, legal affairs and Twitter’s “trust and safety” division, which oversees tasks such as writing regulatory content, according to those who work there. now and in the past, posts on social networks. media and e-mails sent to the work addresses of former Twitter employees who recently returned. They have left Dublin, Singapore and San Francisco.

Many of the departures follow Musk’s announcement late last week that employees are pledging to work longer hours and be “more demanding” or buy things. Hundreds or more employees refused to participate in what Mr. Musk called Twitter 2.0, and were locked out of the company’s systems. This comes after layoffs in early November that cut half of the company’s workforce.

Twitter also reduced other services that affected engineers late Wednesday, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, people familiar with the matter said. The extent was not immediately known, although some sources said many workers had been let go.

Twitter has sent the fired engineers that their numbers are unsatisfactory and is offering four weeks of severance, some of the people said. Some engineers received an email warning them to step up their work to keep their jobs, the people said.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said this week it is asking Twitter whether it still has enough staff to ensure it complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The company last week told Ireland’s information regulator it had done so, but it was reviewing the nature of the employee departures, a spokeswoman for the Irish regulator said.

He said Twitter had appointed an interim chief data protection officer, a role under the GDPR, after Damien Kieran, who held the role but left shortly before being sacked.

In France, meanwhile, the country’s communications regulator said it had sent a letter last Friday asking Twitter to explain by this week whether it has enough staff to curtail hate speech, which is considered illegal under French law – a move Twitter could face. and rules and fees.

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The staff departure comes as Twitter is negotiating with the EU over the bloc’s new digital services law, known as the Digital Services Act, which will apply tougher rules to major platforms like Twitter by the middle of next year. Didier Reynders, the EU’s justice commissioner, is expected to attend a pre-arranged meeting with Twitter executives in Ireland on Thursday. They plan to question the company’s ability to comply with the law and meet its commitments on data protection and combating hate speech online, according to an EU official familiar with the visit.

Věra Jourová, the EU’s executive vice-president, said she was concerned by reports of mass layoffs at Twitter in Europe. “European law continues to apply to Twitter, regardless of its owner,” he said.

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Mr. Musk said that he will follow the laws of the countries where Twitter operates and that “it will not be a free space for all.”

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Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Late Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted that the number of tweets he described as “hate speech” had fallen below levels seen before such sentiments began in late October.
“Thanks to the Twitter community!” Mr. Musk wrote.

Some of the people who have left or refused to sign on Twitter 2.0 seem to include Sinead McSweeney, the vice president of the national political and philanthropic Ireland, who led public relations and global compliance, and the two. the rest of the staff in the Twitter office in Brussels.

Ms. McSweeney and two employees in Brussels declined to comment, but emails to their work addresses began to bounce back in recent days, according to checks by The Wall Street Journal. Four other Brussels-based employees earlier this month were told they would be fired, according to media reports and people familiar with the matter.

Twenty Air Street, London, home of Twitter’s UK office.


Image:

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Damien Viel, Twitter’s country manager for France, was also among the employees who posted publicly this week that they were leaving the company. He declined to comment when reached by the Journal.

Some of the departures took place in groups that reported to Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former chief executive and trustee, who resigned earlier this month. In an op-ed for the New York Times,

Mr. Roth said he resigned because Mr. Musk made it clear that he alone would make decisions about the platform’s policies and rules, and that he had no business with those in the company who advised him on those matters.

The group included Ilana Rosenzweig, who served as Twitter’s executive director and head of International Trust and Safety. He has since left the company, according to his LinkedIn profile. From Singapore, Ms. Rosenzweig led Twitter’s security teams in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, along with Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries, according to her profile.

“I decided not to join Twitter 2.0,” Keith Yet, a Twitter security officer in Singapore, wrote on LinkedIn on Monday. Mr. Hoke worked on child sex issues and countered rising legal pressure from Japan and other countries, according to his LinkedIn profile. Attempts to reach Ms. Rosenzweig and Mr. Still were unsuccessful.

The departure comes amid new technology regulations, particularly in Europe. The Digital Services Act, which by the middle of next year will require technology companies such as Twitter, which has more than 45 million users in the EU, to maintain robust systems to remove content that European governments deem illegal.

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The act also requires these companies to reduce the risks associated with actions that regulators deem harmful or offensive. It mandates that companies regularly review corporate policies and threatens to impose non-compliance fines of up to 6% of the company’s annual revenue.

Political leaders warned that Mr. Musk must comply with EU regulations. “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our rules,” said on Twitter, the EU Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, a few hours after Mr.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission, the EU’s chief executive, said this week it had contacted the company about managing and dealing with information and hate speech, but declined to comment on Twitter’s comments.

Activists and researchers worry that the move could undermine Twitter’s ability to block government-controlled information aimed at spreading propaganda and harassing opponents. The increase “raises questions about how Twitter can curtail tweets and comments in a professional and neutral way,” said Patrick Poon, a liberal activist at Japan’s Meiji University who studies free speech.

—Liza Lin, Alexa Corse and Sarah E. Needleman contributed to this story.

Contact Sam Schechner at [email protected], Kim Mackrael at [email protected] and Newley Purnell at [email protected]

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