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Twitter layoffs continue under Elon Musk

by Mahmmod Shar

By Clare Duffy, CNN

CNN — Additional Twitter employees were terminated Thursday as part of ongoing, rolling layoffs under new owner Elon Musk, including from the public policy and media and entertainment teams, according to tweets from affected employees.

As part of Thursday’s layoffs, the members of Twitter’s public policy team who had remained following last month’s mass layoffs were again cut down by about half to around 15 employees, a former Twitter employee with knowledge of the layoffs told CNN.

Among the public policy team’s responsibilities are working with outside advisory groups such as the Twitter Trust and Safety Council, which the company disbanded earlier this month. It also manages human rights programs to protect vulnerable users like activists, engages in transparency efforts, works with government agencies and helps to ensure compliance with global regulations. The public policy team had more than 60 employees prior to Musk’s takeover, the former employee said.

Thursday’s exits come after Musk laid off about half of Twitter’s workforce last month shortly after his takeover, and later pushed out additional employees, including through an ultimatum requiring them to work “hardcore” or exit the company. Musk’s team — seeking to cut costs at the struggling company that the billionaire purchased for $44 billion — has continued to lay off hundreds of additional Twitter staff since then, including top engineering and legal talent, according to the former employee and multiple recent reports.

More than 100 former Twitter employees have filed demands for arbitration or are participating in proposed class action lawsuits related to the layoffs.

The latest round of layoffs could further affect Twitter’s ability to protect key users and comply with regulations amid heightened scrutiny of the company following Musk’s takeover.

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In a meeting last month, top EU official Thierry Breton cautioned Musk that the social media platform must take significant steps to comply with EU content moderation laws and that European officials will be closely watching for compliance. Musk has consented to allow EU officials to “stress test” the social media platform early in 2019 to determine whether it complies with the Digital Services Act, Europe’s new platform regulation.

The loss of many of its advertisers, who generate the majority of Twitter’s revenue, is another issue that the company is still having. According to a review by digital marketing intelligence company Pathmatics, which it provided to CNN, 72 of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers had paused ad campaigns as of December 17.

After Twitter users voted over the weekend for him to resign as CEO, Musk may be considering finding someone else to lead the social media platform in the interim. This week, Musk tweeted that he would step down from his position “as soon as I find someone naive enough to take the job!”

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