Australia regulator ‘concerned’ about Twitter’s legal compliance after job cuts

Australia regulator ‘concerned’ about Twitter’s legal compliance after job cuts

on November 9, 2022

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 4, 2022, a phone screen displays a photo of Elon Musk with the Twitter logo shown in the background, in Washington, DC.  (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s e-safety commissioner has written to Elon Musk voicing concern that Twitter staff cuts could leave the social media giant unable to comply with local laws prohibiting extremist and violent content.

Commissioner Julie Inman Grant — a former Twitter employee — said she was “deeply concerned about the depth and breadth of recent cuts to Twitter staff across the globe”.

Since Musk bought the platform earlier this month, he has fired roughly 50 percent of staff in a bid to cut costs.

Inman Grant expressed concern about the “potential impact” of the cuts “on Twitter’s ability to respond to and comply with our regulatory requirements”.

Australia has spearheaded the global drive to regulate social media platforms.

Watchdogs have been given sweeping powers to order the removal of content and punish platforms for failure to moderate child sex abuse content, cyberbullying and violent extremism.

Inman Grant worked at Twitter on policy and safety after 17 years working at Microsoft.

Her concerns echo comments from regulators and legislators in Europe and North America, who have warned that Musk’s drive for fewer content restrictions could turn the platform into a cesspool of misinformation.

In the letter, Inman Grant dismissed Twitter’s arguments that content moderation staffing had only been cut by 15 percent.

“As someone who understands Twitter’s operational ecosystem, I know it is much far more complex than those comments would suggest.”

She said: “Deep cuts to public policy, legal, communications, human rights, ethical AI and transparency teams leave me very concerned that Twitter is removing both the expertise and necessary guardrails to deal with the growing threat of hate, harm, disinformation and other forms of serious online abuse on the platform.”

Inman Grant called for “direct assurance” that Twitter will comply with Australian law.

Officials said Twitter had yet to respond to the letter.

© Agence France-Presse