Elon Musk’s move to purge Twitter company employees who don’t share his vision has sparked a wave of walkouts among employees around the world over policy and safety issues, leading to questions in key jurisdictions over the site’s ongoing compliance efforts. Raises questions from regulators.
The staff departures in recent days have included dozens of people spread across units such as government policy, legal affairs and Twitter’s “trust and safety” department, which, according to current and former employees, is content Responsible for tasks like drafting rules, posting on social pages. Media and emails were sent to the work addresses of people who had worked at Twitter who had recently returned. They are based out of hubs including Dublin, Singapore and San Francisco.
Many of the walkouts follow Mr Musk’s ultimatum late last week that employees promise to work longer hours and be “extremely hard” or take a buyout. Hundreds or more employees refused to commit to what Mr. Musk called Twitter 2.0, and the company’s systems shut down. It comes after layoffs in early November that cut nearly half of the company’s workforce.
Twitter carried out another round of job cuts affecting engineers late Wednesday, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, people familiar with the matter said. The exact scope was not immediately known, although some people estimated that dozens of employees were let go.
Twitter sent an email to the fired engineers saying their code was unsatisfactory and recommending a four-week severance, some of the people said. Some other engineers received an email warning them to improve their performance to keep their jobs.
The Irish Data Protection Commission said this week that it is asking Twitter whether it still has enough staff to ensure compliance with the European Union’s privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The company told the Irish data regulator last week it had done so, but was still reviewing the impact of the employee departures, a spokesman for the Irish regulator said.
He said Twitter had appointed an interim chief data protection officer under the GDPR following the departure of Damien Kieran, who had served in the role but left shortly after the first round of layoffs.
Meanwhile, in France, the country’s communications regulator said it sent a letter last Friday giving Twitter until the end of this week to clarify whether it has enough personnel to moderate hate speech, which is required by French law. is considered illegal—which could subject Twitter to legal orders and fines.
The staff departures come as Twitter negotiates with the European Union over the bloc’s new social media law, called the Digital Services Act, which would hit platforms as big as Twitter by the middle of next year. Implement strict rules on farms. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders will attend a pre-scheduled meeting with Twitter executives in Ireland on Thursday. He plans to question the company’s ability to comply with the law and fulfill its promises to protect data and fight online hate speech, according to an EU official familiar with the trip.
Vera Jurova, the EU’s deputy chief executive, said she was concerned about reports of large numbers of Twitter layoffs in Europe. “European laws apply to Twitter, regardless of who owns it,” she said.
Share your thoughts with us
What impact will having a reduced staff to oversee regulatory and content issues have on Twitter? Join the conversation below.
Mr. Musk has said that he will follow the laws of the countries where Twitter operates and that it “cannot be a free-for-all hell.”
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Late on Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted that the number of views of tweets he described as “hate speech” had fallen below levels seen before a spike in similar comments in late October.
“Congratulations to the Twitter team!” Mr. Musk wrote.
Some of the people who have either refused or refused to sign on to Twitter 2.0 appear to include Sinead McSweeney, vice president of the Ireland-based Global Policy and Philanthropy, a global regulatory agency. Leads government relations and compliance initiatives, as well as two. The rest of the staff at Twitter’s Brussels office.
Ms. McSweeney and two Brussels employees declined to comment, but emails to their work addresses were not returned in recent days, according to checks by The Wall Street Journal. Four other Brussels-based employees were fired earlier this month after they were told they were exposed to social media posts and people.
Damien Weil, Twitter’s country manager for France, was also among a wave of employees who posted publicly this week that they were leaving the company. He declined to comment when reached by the Journal.
At least some of the departures occurred in teams that reported to former Twitter CEO Yoel Roth, who resigned earlier this month. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Mr. Roth said he resigned because Mr. Musk had made it clear that he would only make decisions about policy and platform rules, and that he would only listen to those at the company. It was of little use to advise him on these matters.
The team included Alana Rosenzweig, who served as Twitter’s head of global trust and security. According to her LinkedIn profile she left the company. Based in Singapore, Ms. Rosenzweig led Twitter’s trust and safety teams across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, along with Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries, according to her profile.
“I’ve decided not to agree to Twitter 2.0,” Keith Byatt, Twitter’s trust and safety officer based in Singapore, wrote on LinkedIn on Monday. Mr. Still has worked on child sexual exploitation issues and on legal refugees from Japan and other countries, according to his LinkedIn profile. Efforts to reach Ms. Rosenzweig and Mr.
The holidays come amid a wave of new tech regulations, particularly in Europe. The Digital Services Act, which takes effect mid-next year, will require tech companies like Twitter, which have more than 45 million users in the EU, to maintain robust systems to remove content that European national governments deem illegal.
The law also requires these companies to reduce the risks associated with content that regulators find harmful or objectionable. It mandates regular external audits of companies’ processes and threatens non-compliance fines of up to 6% of a company’s annual revenue.
Political leaders have warned that Mr Musk’s Twitter account must comply with EU laws. “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our rules,” the European Union’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, tweeted hours after Mr. Musk completed the Twitter deal in late October. , “The bird is free.”
A spokesman for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said this week that it is in active contact with the company about regulation and combating disinformation and illegal hate speech, but declined to comment on Twitter’s compliance plans. Refrain from commenting.
Activists and researchers also worry that the withdrawal will undermine Twitter’s ability to block state-backed information operations aimed at spreading propaganda and harassing opponents. The wave of withdrawals “raises questions about how Twitter will moderate tweets and comments in a professional and impartial manner,” said Patrick Poon, an activist-turned-scholar at Japan’s Meiji University, who analyzes free speech.
—Lisa Lane, Alexa Kors and Sarah E. Needleman contributed to this article.
Copyright © 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. all rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8