The small six-employee office was downsized to two in recent weeks after Elon Musk abruptly fired employees, according to people familiar with exits. The remaining two members left last week, after Musk urged staff to adhere to a “tough work culture”.
The Brussels office has been a key hub for Twitter, which has dealt with a torrent of European regulations, many of which have only recently come into effect. The social media platform has long struggled with the notion that it can’t handle hate speech and misinformation.
Julia Moser and Dario La Nasa, senior public policy managers and the last staff members left in the Brussels office, resigned last week, the sources said, who declined to comment on the staff departure record. Moser and La Nasa could not be contacted for comment. A Twitter spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Departures from Brussels were first reported Financial Times.
How Musk’s battle with European regulation could play out: questions and answers
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European regulators and officials were quick to demand that Twitter comply with its regulatory requirements. Hours after billionaire Musk closed a $44 billion deal with the company, European Commissioner Thierry Breton issued a warning to the new owner, urging the company to “work by our rules.”
Musk tried to reassure European regulators that he would follow their laws. The Tesla CEO called Breton the day after the Twitter takeover and said the platform would be DSA compliant, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Since then, Musk’s strategy has been to cut Twitter’s workforce in half through massive layoffs, including most of the company’s management. Managers in the UK and Ireland also left, and the head of Twitter in France announced his departure on Twitter on Sunday.
Last Friday, French media regulator Arcom sent a letter to Twitter’s European headquarters in Ireland asking if the social network had the means to continue to enforce content moderation in line with French and EU laws after job cuts.
Arcom CEO Roche-Olivier Mestre expressed deep concern over Twitter’s ability to maintain a secure environment for its users following the layoffs. Like other platforms, Twitter is required to fight disinformation and hate speech under French law.
The Irish data watchdog also held a meeting with Twitter officials last week after a data protection firm employee left the company. Twitter has an acting employee who has told the data protection watchdog that he will comply with EU data regulations. The Irish Data Protection Commission said it would be monitoring the situation “closely”.
The EU Digital Services Act gives governments more power to enforce rules governing content moderation by tech companies and decide when they should take down illegal content. If Musk doesn’t comply, Twitter will be fined 6% of its annual sales and could even be banned.
Compliance will be difficult and costly. Next summer, Twitter and all major online platforms will need to add ways for users to flag illegal content and have enough employees to moderate content in the EU. The company will also be required to submit a risk assessment showing how they are reducing legal but harmful content, including misinformation and harassment. The commission could force the company to change its algorithm, or even raid Twitter’s offices to make sure they’re abiding by the new rules.
Twitter also needs to make sure it follows rules in its operations, such as the EU AI Act. The current proposal would ban the use of algorithms that discriminate against people, which could affect Twitter’s face-cropping tools, which have been shown to favor thin young women. An EU proposal on child sexual abuse content could force Twitter to check private messages for images of child sexual abuse or childcare. They are still being discussed in the EU.