Elon Musk, the new Twitter Inc. ringleader, disbanded the company’s Brussels headquarters, setting off alarm bells in the European Union (EU). The Belgian capital was the headquarters of the team in charge of digital policy, which filtered disinformation messages and hate speech, following the guidelines imposed by the EU bloc.
Julia Mozer and Dario La Nasa, who were responsible for Twitter’s digital policy in Europe, left the company last week, according to a report in the Financial Times. The executives were the driving force behind the company’s compliance with the EU’s landmark Digital Services Act, which sets new rules for large tech companies to ensure the safety of users online.
Other executives had already left the small Brussels office earlier this month, when Musk laid off half of the company’s 7,500 employees after buying it. Mozer and La Nasa survived the initial cut, but decided to leave when the new CEO issued an ultimatum last week for staff to commit to a “tough work culture”.
Just as in Brussels, other local Twitter executives who held key positions dealing with government officials abruptly left the organization. As a result, the EU has doubts about whether Twitter has the staff to ensure compliance with laws designed to police online content.
“I am concerned about the news of laying off such a large number of Twitter staff in Europe,” Věra Jourová, EU vice-president in charge of the disinformation code, told the Financial Times. “If you want to detect and act effectively against disinformation and propaganda, this requires resources. Especially in the context of the Russian disinformation war.”
Twitter has gotten worse at policing hateful messages
The European Commission verified that the U.S. company received, between March 28 and May 13, 1,097 notifications from European organizations warning about hate messages posted on the social network. This is the highest number of warnings received by a digital platform in that period, being only surpassed by Facebook, which received 1,558 notifications, according to Ok Diario.
Twitter reacted to 54.3% of these messages in less than 24 hours, while 28.9% acted in less than 48 hours. According to the EC report, this is the worst reaction record since 2017. Likewise, when it comes to the removal of hate messages, Twitter fared poorly: 45.4%, compared to the 49.8% it achieved in 2021.
As for the response given by platforms to organizations denouncing the publication of hate messages, Twitter also recorded worse ratings than the other platforms. It responded to 57.1% of the warnings, while Facebook responded to 84.9% of the notifications and TikTok and Instagram responded to more than 70% of the notifications.