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Twitter turmoil, staff exodus aggravate security concerns

AFP . Washington
22 Nov 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 21 Nov 2022 21:57:20
Twitter turmoil, staff exodus aggravate security concerns

Twitter’s owner Elon Musk has pledged the platform will not become a “hellscape,” but experts fear a staff exodus following mass layoffs may have devastated its ability to combat misinformation, impersonation and data theft.

Twitter devolved into what campaigners described as a cesspit of falsehoods and hate speech after recent layoffs cut half the company’s 7,500 staff and fake accounts proliferated following its botched rollout of a paid verification system.

Further throwing the influential platform into disarray -– and raising doubt about its very existence -– reports said hundreds of employees chose to depart the company Thursday in defiance of an ultimatum from Musk.

“The huge number of layoffs and resignations raises serious questions about content moderation and the security of user data,” Cheyenne Hunt-Majer, from the nonprofit Public Citizen, told AFP. 

“It is imperative that (US regulators) act with urgency as users could have their sensitive data exploited or even stolen given the lack of sufficient staff that remain to adequately protect it.”

The hashtag #RIPTwitter gained huge traction on the site after resignations poured in from employees who chose “no” to Musk’s demand that they either be “extremely hardcore” or exit the company.

Twitter has plunged into turmoil as Musk, a self-professed free speech absolutist, seeks to shake up the money-losing company after his blockbuster $44 billion buyout late last month.

The site’s content moderation teams – largely outsourced contractors that combat misinformation – have been axed and a number of engineers fired after openly criticizing Musk on Twitter or on an internal messaging board, according to reports and tweets.

Wary brands have paused or slowed down ad spending – Twitter’s biggest revenue source – after a spike in racist and anti-Semitic trolling on the platform.