Written by 12:06 am Europe Economy

As incidents of online hate speech go up, European Union expresses concern about Twitter layoffs

After the reported closure of Twitter’s Brussels lobbying office, the European Union has expressed concern over the firm’s increasingly falling staff numbers. 

Talking to reporters in Dublin, EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said “We have concerns about the decisions to have less and less people working at the company.” 

Watch | EU innovates rule to stop misinformation, companies to sign digital services act

This comes as a recent EU evaluation showed that the proportion of hate speech notifications examined by major social media companies within 24 hours has decreased from 90 per cent in 2020 to 81 per cent in 2021, and to 64 per cent in 2022.

It further revealed that among the major players only Youtube made improvements. Data showed that while Twitter and other tech giants made less of an effort, YouTube improved its removal rate for content deemed offensive as per an EU code of conduct.

An unnamed European Commission official is quoted by Reuters as saying “Twitter representatives reaffirmed the commitment of the company to ensure full compliance with EU rules. Commissioner Reynders took note of it and asked Twitter to translate this commitment into concrete measures.” 

The Digital Services Act, a new set of regulations, which go into effect in February 2024, mandates that online platforms do more to monitor the internet for illegal content or face fines of up to 6 per cent of their annual global revenue.

“When we discuss hate speech, I am sure we need human resources,” said the EU justice commissioner Reynders as he addressed the media after a meeting with unidentified representatives from Twitter reports AFP.

Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, concerns about layoffs have plagued the tech world. 

Concerns were heightened when a Financial Times report said that the corporation had closed its office in Brussels as a result of the departure of executives in charge of measures to comply with the EU’s online regulations.

Vera Jourova, vice president of the EU commission, also underscored the bloc’s concerns.

Tweeting a link to the FT article she wrote, “I am concerned about the news of firing of a vast amount of staff of Twitter in Europe. If you want to effectively detect and take action against #disinformation & propaganda, this requires resources. Especially in the context of 🇷🇺 disinformation warfare.”

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“It’s an additional concern, because to us to have a team dedicated to the relation with the European institutions is very important,” said Reynders addressing the FT report, he added that in spite of this he was “optimistic by nature” and that he had been given assurances that the Dublin-based Twitter staff will take over the Brussels positions.

After acquiring the company last month, tech entrepreneur Musk has fired around half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees, including those who were entrusted with battling misinformation.

(With inputs from agencies)

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