Elon Musk
Elon Musk

Elon Musk axes key Twitter teams including human rights, accessibility and curation

Elon Musk-owned Twitter terminated key departments including, human rights, accessibility and curation on Friday, November 4.

As part of a drastic job cut order by Elon Musk, Twitter shut down various departments including the global Human Rights department, Accessibility Experience team, and has also laid off more than 100 employees in India. Elon Musk, the new CEO of Twitter fired thousands of Twitter employees or around half of the 7,500-person workforce on Friday. Many of the former workers claim they were unceremoniously let go through email with no prior notice. Reuters reports that among those let go this week were employees whose duties included communication, machine learning ethics, and content curation.

The company's human rights division was dissolved on Friday, November 4, according to a tweet by former Twitter Human Rights Counsel Shannon Raj Singh. Shannon took to Twitter and wrote, "Yesterday was my last day at Twitter: the entire Human Rights team has been cut from the company. I am enormously proud of the work we did to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, to protect those at-risk in global conflicts & crises including Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Ukraine, and to defend the needs of those, particularly at risk of human rights abuse by virtue of their social media presence, such as journalists & human rights defenders.” The team worked to protect users facing human rights violations around the globe, including activists, journalists, and people affected by conflicts like the war in Ukraine.

The former head of the Accessibility Experience team, Gerard K. Cohen, verified the news that his team was terminated. He wrote, “I am officially no longer the Engineering Manager for the Accessibility Experience Team at Twitter. I have words. Along with me, my entire engineering team has been let go. Before I get into my own thoughts, I want to honor them. If you are looking to hire some brilliant accessibility engineers, keep reading.” The team worked on improving the product for those with disabilities. Before disbanding, the team seemed to have a lot of projects ongoing, according to TechCrunch.

Employees reported that Twitter's curation team, which is in charge of "highlighting and contextualizing the best events and stories that unfold on Twitter," had been fired. A Twitter official in Asia claims that the company's Indian communications department has also been laid off. According to the Reuters news agency, a team that concentrated on research into Twitter's algorithmic use, an issue that was important to Musk, was also eliminated.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk justified his decision to fire over 50% of the company's workforce. He said he had no other choice because the social media site was losing more than $4 million per day. He also stated that the staff, who have been laid off, were offered 3-month of severance. "Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately, there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required," Musk tweeted.

In an effort to diversify Twitter's revenue streams, Musk had recently discussed updating the company's subscription service Twitter Blue with a new $8 monthly cost and charging for verification. Media reports claim that Elon Musk is also considering making other product adjustments, including shutting down its newsletter service Revue and restarting the short-form video app Vine. Additionally, the action is being taken at a time when the Indian government has granted itself the authority to name a quasi-judicial body that will hear user complaints against the content moderation judgments of digital intermediaries.

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