As Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter entered its third week, and following massive layoffs, the billionaire revealed a shaky financial future for the social media platform, amid an exodus of top security and privacy executives.
Yoel Roth, the chief security and integrity officer who had been appointed to publicly address concerns advertisers and users had about the platform, is reportedly the latest to leave the company.
The outings began the same day Elon Musk first addressed employees, saying “bankruptcy is not out of the question,” according to multiple reports.
The day began with the resignation of three top security officials: Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner, Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran and Chief Compliance Officer Marianne Fogarty, prompting warnings from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). . (Twitter reached a settlement on privacy issues with the FTC in May.) After those departures, Roth and Twitter’s head of customer solutions, Robin Wheeler, also left the company.
In an email to employees and in a subsequent staff meeting, Musk did little to inspire confidence in the company’s future. In an email, Musk described the dire economic circumstances the company was in and how important he believed its subscription service, Twitter Blue, was to his future.
“Without significant subscription revenue, Twitter will most likely not survive the next economic downturn,” Musk said in the email. “We need about half of our revenue to be from subscription.”
An employee also said at the staff meeting that Musk appeared to downplay employee concerns about how a reduced Twitter workforce was handling its obligations to uphold privacy and data security standards.
Musk’s memo and staff meeting echoed a conversation broadcast live on Wednesday in which he tried to quell concerns from major advertisers and made his most extensive public comments on Twitter’s direction since closing the deal. $44 billion to buy the platform late last month and scrapped its top. executives
The exits compound the problems that have plagued the social media platform since Musk bought it. Musk’s inauguration and the resulting confusing back-and-forth over product launches and content moderation policies have prompted many brands, including General Mills, to pause ad buys on Twitter, a development the billionaire sought to rectify in live streaming for advertisers. The duo that fronted the live stream, Roth and Wheeler, have now left the company.
“So the two people Elon brought up to speak to advertisers in an attempt to convince them to continue associating with the company just quit,” Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, tweeted. “The companies that stay with Twitter at this point will be tied to these dangerous and insane policy changes.”
The company’s subscription product, Twitter Blue, which launched Wednesday and allows users to purchase a verified blue check mark for $8, has already resulted in multiple accounts being verified despite posing as marks or figures. remarkable. Some civil rights groups are concerned that the lack of clarity in content moderation policies and the unlimited ability to purchase a blue check mark could lead, if they haven’t already, to a scourge of hate speech and dissemination. of wrong information. They have asked more brands to pause their ads on the platform.
“I’ve never seen a billionaire beg for his $8 that much,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP. “Clearly our efforts (asking companies to stop all advertising on Twitter) are working. Corporations must be held accountable and Twitter is no exception. Hate speech and misinformation have no place anywhere.”
Under the company’s agreement with the FTC, Twitter must conduct privacy reviews before making changes to its products. But in a letter sent to Slack by a lawyer from the company’s privacy team and reported by The Verge, the author says he heard the company’s chief legal officer, Alex Spiro, “say that Elon is willing to take on a lot of risk”. in relation to this company and its users, because ‘Elon puts rockets in space, he is not afraid of the FTC’”. The company’s legal team now asks engineers to “self-certify” that their features comply with FTC privacy rules and standards. , depending on the edge.
In the letter, the attorney said people should make use of available whistleblower protections “if you feel uncomfortable about something you are being asked to do.”