It’s been just over a week since Elon Musk finalized his deal to buy Twitter, but billionaire Tesla has already transformed the company.
It laid off 50% of its staff last week, prompting public farewell messages and nervousness about the service’s future after such dramatic cuts. His takeover has coincided with a spike in hate speech, and despite Musk promising to avoid turning the platform into a “free-for-all arena,” many advertisers are concerned about how he will monitor the service — particularly in connection with Tuesday’s US midterm elections.
Now, Twitter’s former director of product management says, layoffs could hamper the service’s handling of election-related issues.
“I’m really concerned that the corporate takeover drama is sucking up all the oxygen in the room,” said Edward Perez. wired In an article published on Monday, he added that the focus on Musk’s drama “leads to potentially insufficient attention to these election-related issues.”
Twitter’s Civil Integrity team, led by Perez before his resignation in September, has worked to slow the spread of disinformation and disinformation — with a primary goal of protecting the public conversation on the service about civic operations. As of Friday, Perez said he does not know how many of the 100-plus team members have retained their positions.
Cutting the company’s staff in half, he said, days before the midterms, could leave too few people to do the “extremely complex work” needed before the election — and it’s hard to imagine the layoffs wouldn’t have a “material impact,” he said.
“It’s not entirely clear to me – especially in a political context – that Elon Musk is fully aware of the degree of social responsibility that rests on his shoulders, and the very real damage and harm and political violence and division that can come from social media platforms,” Peres said.
After the job cut out, he wasn’t sure there were enough people to analyze what Twitter’s machine learning-based police system was detecting, whether these models would identify malicious words in posts, or whether they would report questionable content.
“I don’t know the answer to all of that,” he said. “But it certainly doesn’t look good when you let go of 50 percent of very talented employees,” he said.
Peres added that the problem of staff cuts extends beyond Election Day on November 8.
“It’s a very difficult and complex problem to try to mitigate the harmful effects of all this misinformation,” Perez said. “And I can’t think of a worse time for Elon Musk to bring Twitter resources to his knees.”
As for Musk, on Monday, Musk gave his nearly 115 million Twitter followers his recommendation on which political party to vote for.
“Common force curbs the worst excesses of both parties, so I recommend a vote for the Republican Congress, given that the presidency is Democratic.” He saidAddressing “independently minded voters”.
Twitter did not immediately respond to Wealth Comment request.
This story originally appeared on Fortune.com
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