A new report today says Twitter’s Brussels office closed after all of its staff either resigned or were fired. The development has sparked concerns about whether the company intends to ignore a new law on content moderation.

The prospect seems even more likely after Musk again decided to leave it to his Twitter followers to decide whether virtually all banned accounts should be reinstated …

Background

A new European law was passed last week, known as the Digital Services Act. It places legal obligations on social media companies to address illegal content, disinformation, and hate speech.

A core concern is the trade and exchange of illegal goods, services and content online. Online services are also being misused by manipulative algorithmic systems to amplify the spread of disinformation, and for other harmful purposes. These new challenges and the way platforms address them have a significant impact on fundamental rights online.

Russian bots have been particularly problematic, as they post fake news about the invasion and occupation of Ukraine, as well as US election disinformation.

Because Brussels is the home to the European Commission, most large global companies have offices there to lobby for or against proposed new laws, and to ensure that policy-makers in their companies are kept up-to-date with new legal obligations.

Twitter’s Brussels office closed

The Financial Times reports that Twitter’s Brussels office is now closed, after its entire staff either resigned or were fired.

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

The executives had led the company’s effort to comply with the EU’s disinformation code and the bloc’s landmark Digital Services Act, which came into force 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 to European policymakers, had left at the start of the month during company-wide cuts that removed around half of its 7,500-strong workforce.

Without any staff in Brussels, it seems likely that Twitter could now fall foul of the new law, either deliberately, or simply because the company no longer has experts on the ground to help it understand its new obligations.

New Musk poll on banned accounts

Twitter owner Elon Musk promised that no suspended accounts would be reinstated until a new content moderation council was in place. He broke this promise by instead holding a poll of his followers on whether Trump should be allowed back. When the vote was narrowly in favor, he announced that Trump’s account has been reinstated.

Musk has now posted a second poll on whether almost all suspended accounts should be allowed to return.

Many have made the point that this not only a breach of his promise, but also an extremely biased poll, as it is only seen by his followers, a majority of whom are Musk fans, likely to support almost anything the billionaire proposes.

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