Elon Musk warns Twitter’s survival at stake as staff quits


Elon Musk warned Twitter workers Thursday to brace for “difficult times ahead” which may finish with the collapse of the social media platform if they cannot discover new methods of being profitable.

Workers who survived final week’s mass layoffs are going through harsher work situations and rising uncertainty about their capacity to maintain Twitter operating safely as it continues to lose high-level leaders liable for information privateness, cybersecurity and complying with rules.

That contains Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of belief and security — a beforehand little-known govt who grew to become the general public face of Twitter’s content material moderation after Musk took over and who had been praised by Musk for defending Twitter’s ongoing efforts to combat dangerous misinformation and hate speech. An govt confirmed Roth’s resignation to coworkers on an inside messaging board seen by The Associated Press.

The developments had been a part of one other whirlwind day in Musk’s acquisition of the social media platform. It started with an electronic mail to workers from Musk on Wednesday night time ordering employees to cease working from dwelling and present up within the workplace Thursday morning. He referred to as his first “all-hands” assembly Thursday afternoon. Before that, many had been counting on the billionaire Tesla CEO’s public tweets for clues about Twitter’s future.

“Sorry that that is my first electronic mail to the entire firm, however there isn’t a solution to sugarcoat the message,” wrote Musk, earlier than he described a dire financial local weather for companies like Twitter that rely virtually solely on promoting to generate profits.

“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn,” Musk mentioned. “We need roughly half of our revenue to be subscription.”

At the staff assembly, Musk mentioned some “exceptional” workers might search an exemption from his return-to-office order however that others who didn’t prefer it might stop, in accordance with an worker at the assembly who spoke on situation of anonymity out of a priority for job safety.

The worker additionally mentioned Musk appeared to downplay worker issues about how a pared-back Twitter workforce was dealing with its obligations to keep up privateness and information safety requirements, saying as CEO of Tesla he knew how that labored.

Musk’s memo and staff assembly echoed a livestreamed dialog making an attempt to assuage main advertisers Wednesday, his most expansive public feedback about Twitter’s course since he closed a US$44 billion deal to purchase the social media platform late final month and dismissed its high executives. Quite a lot of well-known manufacturers have paused promoting on Twitter.

Musk informed workers the “precedence over the previous 10 days” was to develop and launch Twitter’s new subscription service for $7.99 a month that features a blue verify mark subsequent to the identify of paid members — the mark was beforehand just for verified accounts. Musk’s mission has had a rocky rollout with an onslaught of newly purchased pretend accounts this week impersonating high-profile figures such as basketball star LeBron James and the drug firm Eli Lilly to submit false data or offensive jokes.

In a second electronic mail to workers, Musk mentioned the “absolute top priority” over the coming days is to suspend “bots/trolls/spam” exploiting the verified accounts. But Twitter now employs far fewer individuals to assist him try this.

An govt final week mentioned Twitter was chopping roughly 50 per cent of its workforce, which numbered 7,500 earlier this 12 months.

Musk informed workers within the electronic mail that “distant work is not allowed” and the street forward is “arduous and would require intense work to succeed,” and that they are going to should be within the workplace at least 40 hours per week.

Twitter’s ongoing exodus contains the corporate’s chief privateness officer, Damien Kieran, and chief data safety officer Lea Kissner, who tweeted Thursday that “I’ve made the hard decision to leave Twitter.”

Roth’s resignation is a “huge loss” for Twitter’s reliability and integrity, mentioned his former coworker and pal Emily Horne.

“He’s worked incredibly hard under very challenging circumstances, including being personally targeted by some of the most vicious trolls who were active on the platform,” mentioned Horne, who oversaw world coverage communications at Twitter till 2018. “He stayed by all of that as a result of he believed so deeply within the work his crew was doing to advertise a public dialog and enhance the well being of that dialog.”

Cybersecurity skilled Alex Stamos, a former Facebook safety chief, tweeted Thursday that there’s a “serious risk of a breach with drastically reduced staff” that might additionally put Twitter at odds with a 2011 order from the Federal Trade Commission that required it to deal with critical information safety lapses.

“Twitter made huge strides towards a more rational internal security model and backsliding will put them in trouble with the FTC” and different regulators within the U.S. and Europe, Stamos mentioned.

The FTC mentioned in a press release Thursday that it’s “monitoring current developments at Twitter with deep concern.”

“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” said the agency’s statement. “Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them.”

The FTC wouldn’t say whether or not it was investigating Twitter for potential violations. If it had been, it’s empowered to demand paperwork and depose workers.

In an electronic mail to workers seen by the AP, Musk mentioned “Twitter will do no matter it takes to stick to each the letter and spirit of the FTC consent decree.”

“Anything you learn on the contrary is completely false. The identical goes for another authorities regulatory issues the place Twitter operates,” Musk wrote.

Twitter paid a $150 million penalty in May for violating the 2011 consent order and its up to date model established new procedures requiring the corporate to implement an enhanced privateness safety program as effectively as beefing up data safety.

Those new procedures embody an exhaustive checklist of disclosures Twitter should make to the FTC when introducing new services — notably after they have an effect on private information collected on customers.

Musk is essentially overhauling the platform’s choices and it isn’t identified if he’s telling the FTC about it. Twitter, which gutted its communications division, did not reply to a request for remark Thursday.

Musk has a historical past of tangling with regulators. “I do not respect the SEC,” Musk declared in a 2018 tweet.

The Securities and Exchange Commission not too long ago examined for doable tardiness his disclosures to the company of his purchases of Twitter stock to amass a serious stake. In 2018, Musk and Tesla every agreed to pay $20 million in fines over Musk’s allegedly deceptive tweets saying he’d secured the funding to take the electrical automotive maker personal for $420 a share. Musk has fought the SEC in court docket over compliance with the settlement.

The penalties for not assembly FTC’s necessities might be extreme — such as when Facebook needed to pay $5 billion for privateness violations.

“If Twitter so much as sneezes, it has to do a privacy review beforehand,” tweeted Riana Pfefferkorn, a Stanford University researcher who mentioned she beforehand offered Twitter exterior authorized counsel. “There are periodic outside audits, and the FTC can monitor compliance.”


AP reporters Frank Bajak and Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.


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