Why Elon Musk’s massive layoffs are worrying the European Union

Since its takeover by Elon Musk, layoffs have been frequent at Twitter. And that worries the European Union. On Thursday, the European Commissioner for Justice expressed concern in Dublin about the mass dismissals, after press reports of a closure of the group’s office in Brussels. “We are concerned about the decision to employ fewer and fewer people in the company,” said Didier Reynders.

“When we discuss hate speech, I’m sure we need human resources,” he added after a meeting with Twitter representatives. โ€œIf you want to effectively detect and take action against disinformation and propaganda, it takes resources. Especially in the context of the disinformation war,โ€ European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova tweeted.

The fight against disinformation in danger?

An EU assessment showed that the number of hate speech notifications reviewed by major social networks within 24 hours rose from 90% in 2020, to 81% in 2021 and 64% in 2022. Figures show that only YouTube improved its removal rate for hateful content – as defined by an EU code of conduct – while efforts by Twitter and other tech companies declined.

Concerns about Twitter following its takeover by Elon Musk grew on Thursday. According to FinancialTimes, the company has dismantled its Brussels office, after the departure of the executives who were in charge of compliance with EU rules. “This is an additional concern, because for us, having a team dedicated to relations with the European institutions is very important”, declared Didier Reynders in reaction to the article in the FinancialTimes. However, the EU commissioner added that he was “optimistic by nature” and had received commitments that the Twitter team in Dublin would take on this role.

Following the company’s acquisition last month, Elon Musk laid off about half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees, including many anti-misinformation workers. While in Dublin, Didier Reynders is also due to meet with representatives of Meta, the owner of Facebook, on Friday. The founder of Facebook and head of Meta Mark Zuckerberg announced on November 9 the loss of 11,000 jobs, or about 13% of its workforce, due to a drop in advertising. The European operations of Meta and Twitter are based in tax-efficient Ireland, as are those of Google, Apple and Microsoft, making Ireland’s data protection agency the main regulator to hold them to account in Europe. .

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