Twitter dissolves office in Brussels, raising fears for online safety

Twitter has disbanded its entire Brussels office, leaving EU officials concerned about whether the social media platform will comply with the bloc’s strict new rules for online content monitoring.

Julia Mozer and Dario La Nasa, who led Twitter’s digital policy in Europe, left the company last week, five people with knowledge of the departures said.

The executives had spearheaded the company’s efforts to comply with the EU’s Disinformation Code and the bloc’s landmark Digital Services Act, which took effect last week and sets new rules on how Big Tech should keep users safe online.

Other Twitter executives in the small but vital Brussels office, seen as a crucial conduit for European policymakers, had left early in the month amid company-wide budget cuts that saw the removal of about half of its 7,500-strong workforce.

Mozer and La Nasa survived the initial culling, but no longer work there after the company’s new owner, Elon Musk, issued an ultimatum last week for staff to commit to a “hardcore work culture.” It is unclear whether the couple resigned or were fired.

Mozer and La Nasa declined to comment. Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

The Brussels exits are symptomatic of a global trend from India to France, where local Twitter executives who held key positions dealing with government officials abruptly left the organization in recent weeks amid widespread budget cuts.

This has led to growing concerns about whether the company has the staff to ensure compliance with local laws designed to control online content, potentially exposing the company to lawsuits and regulatory action.

“I am concerned about the news of such a large number of Twitter employees being laid off in Europe,” Věra Jourová, the EU vice president responsible for the disinformation code, told the Financial Times. “If you want to detect and combat disinformation and propaganda effectively, you need resources.

“Particularly in the context of Russia’s disinformation warfare, I expect Twitter to fully respect EU law and deliver on its commitments. Twitter has been a very useful partner in the fight against disinformation and illegal hate speech and this must not change.”

The European Commission will publish figures on Thursday showing that Twitter is falling behind in its efforts to comply with the disinformation code, people with knowledge of the study said. The figures show that Twitter’s removal of hate speech is down about 5 percent year over year.

These problems come as Musk’s efforts to review Twitter’s activities have run into problems, particularly with user identity verification.

The billionaire entrepreneur, who bought the social media platform for $44 billion last month, has delayed the relaunch of its flagship Twitter Blue subscription service until there is “a lot of confidence in stopping imitation.”

Musk planned to relaunch Twitter Blue on Nov. 29 after the botched rollout earlier this month when the “blue tick” feature was abused by imitators on the platform.

Brands have also raised concerns about whether the platform remains a safe place to advertise, given Musk’s past commitments to relax content moderation rules and his push to lift the ban on controversial users, such as the former American President Donald Trump, undo.

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