Elon Musk continues to cut staff

Elon Musk continues to cut staff

Elon Musk last August. NTB/via REUTERS

Supposed to end at the end of November, the layoffs continue in strategic departments.

After the spectacular layoff plans operated in November, and which will have seen the departure in less than three weeks of nearly 5,000 of the company’s 7,500 employees, Elon Musk continues to chip away at Twitter’s workforce. The entrepreneur had however announced at the end of November to the teams that the era of job cuts was over. Promise not kept.

At the end of last week, a dozen people working on moderation policies in Singapore and Dublin were thus thanked, revealed Bloomberg. A few days earlier, around 40 data analysts and engineers working on the social network’s advertising tools had to pack up, according to The Information. And at the end of December, half of the team dedicated to relations with public institutions was dismissed by e-mail. It would remain to date that 2000 employees in the group, or 75% less than before the takeover.

These new cuts raise questions as they seem to go against the interests of Twitter. The social network has faced, since the takeover of Elon Musk, a fall in its advertising revenues on which it is 90% dependent. Is it such a good idea to reduce the team responsible for ensuring the relevance of the targeting of these ads, and therefore their prices? The layoffs also affected the teams responsible for moderation policies, user safety and the fight against misinformation. These themes are however burning for Twitter and all the more so in Europe, where the platform will be submitted from 1er September to the Digital Services Act (DSA). This text imposes numerous obligations on digital platforms, including that of having a large number of moderators in all the languages ​​of the Union.

Europe on the lookout

“The DSA will be the justice of the peace in determining whether Twitter meets its obligations. Otherwise, he faces a fine of 6% of his turnover, or 300 million euros, and even a ban in Europe in the event of repeated violations.“, recalls the Minister in charge of the Digital Transition Jean-Noël Barrot. The latter met Elon Musk last Friday at the headquarters in San Francisco, just like his German counterpart Volker Wissing twenty-four hours earlier. Like other major platforms subject to the DSA, “Twitter teams will travel to Brussels at the end of the month for a meeting with the European Commission”, continues the minister. French commissioner Thierry Breton announced at the end of November that Twitter would soon be subject to a “stress test” at its Californian headquarters in order to gauge its compliance rate with the DSA, but also with the code of good practice against misinformation. “There is still a lot of work to do”had warned Thierry Breton.

Elon Musk did not reassure observers by reinstating on the platform personalities who had been banned for conspiracy, misinformation or incitement to hatred. According to developer Travis Brown, at least 27,000 of these accounts have regained access in recent weeks, such as cardiologist Peter McCullough or far-right activist Pamela Geller. In France, conspiracy theorist Silvano Trotta has also returned to the platform.

“Of course it worries us”, comments Jean-Noël Barrot. Elon Musk explained to the Minister of Digital “to want to allow everyone to express themselves within the limits of the legality of each country. But Elon Musk’s intention is for post visibility to be stronger for quality and verified accounts.”

Another worrying signal was the dissolution in December of the Trust and Safety committee, a group of associations and researchers who helped Twitter develop its moderation rules and new features. No replacement instance has yet been announced.