New Delhi
CNN Enterprise

It’s lower than two weeks since Elon Musk accomplished his acquisition of Twitter and already there are considerations that the corporate is selecting to disregard key dangers in its largest worldwide progress markets.

Twitter laid off 1000’s of workers throughout the corporate on Friday, together with workers in India and Africa. The California-based firm already had a turbulent relationship with governments in these areas, and tech consultants concern {that a} diminished workforce will depart the platform extra susceptible than ever to misinformation and political strain.

Musk’s Twitter laid off almost all the staff in its solely African workplace simply 4 days after it opened within the Ghanaian capital Accra, a number of sources with data of the state of affairs advised CNN.

Twitter introduced that it could open its first African workplace in Ghana in April 2021, however its workers had been working remotely till final week. The sources advised CNN that just one worker seems to have been retained within the Ghana workplace after the worldwide job cuts.

“It’s very insulting,” one former worker mentioned on situation of anonymity. “They didn’t even have the courtesy to deal with me by identify. The e-mail simply mentioned ‘see hooked up’ and but they used my identify once they gave me a suggestion.”

The corporate has reportedly additionally made sweeping reductions in India, one in all its largest markets. It laid off greater than 90% of its workers in Asia’s third-largest economic system over the weekend, in line with a Bloomberg report this week, which cited unnamed sources. Twitter didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark by CNN.

The Bloomberg report got here two days after the Financial Instances newspaper reported that Twitter had let go of 180 of about 230 workers within the nation, citing unnamed sources.

Free speech advocates say that slashing the workforce is unhealthy information for each workers and customers in Twitter’s worldwide markets.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, senior worldwide counsel and Asia Pacific coverage director at digital rights group Entry Now, mentioned that Twitter had simply begun “defending susceptible communities” on its platform in India, and now it has despatched a “clear sign” that it gained’t be investing in public coverage and on-line security groups anymore.

Even earlier than the layoffs, Twitter was going by way of a troublesome time in each India and Africa.

India’s ruling social gathering has intensified a crackdown on social media and messaging apps since final yr. American tech companies have repeatedly expressed fears that the nation’s guidelines could erode privateness and usher in mass surveillance on this planet’s quickest rising digital market. India says it’s attempting to keep up nationwide safety.

In consequence, Twitter had spent months locked in a high-stakes standoff with the federal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over orders to take down content material. This yr, it even launched a authorized problem over orders to dam content material.

Chima fears that Twitter’s depleted workforce could not have the flexibility to “problem” the federal government and its problematic orders anymore. Musk’s different enterprise pursuits — together with a plan to promote Tesla autos in India — could additional complicate the image.

“Musk’s simplistic understanding of free speech coupled together with his want to convey his different companies to India and safe licensing for these,” make it onerous for Twitter to push again, he defined.

India’s tech ministry didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The corporate additionally went by way of a difficult interval in Nigeria final yr.

Final June, the Nigerian authorities suspended Twitter’s operations within the nation, accusing the social media agency of permitting its platform for use “for actions which are able to undermining Nigeria’s company existence.”

The ban was introduced simply two days after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that was broadly perceived as offensive. Within the tweet, Buhari threatened residents within the southeast area following assaults on public property.

Nigeria determined to elevate the ban solely in January this yr.

Tech consultants now concern that the corporate will discover it even more durable to navigate new legal guidelines in rising markets.

“Given India’s adversarial stance towards large tech, corporations like Twitter have at all times wanted a military of public coverage consultants within the nation to take care of no matter is thrown at them,” mentioned Nikhil Pahwa, Delhi-based founding father of tech web site MediaNama, including that he fears Twitter will “battle to maintain tempo” with coverage adjustments in India.

Twitter doesn’t share consumer numbers, however in line with India, the platform has 17.5 million customers within the nation. Final yr, India launched new know-how guidelines, which have been aimed toward regulating on-line content material and require corporations to rent individuals who can reply swiftly to authorized requests to delete posts, amongst different issues.

Pahwa mentioned that whereas sure “statutory positions” Twitter was compelled to fill with a purpose to adjust to these guidelines will keep, he’s not sure in regards to the destiny of different departments, together with public coverage, enterprise and content material moderation — all of that are key to thriving in progress markets.

Analysts are additionally involved globally in regards to the influence these layoffs may have on misinformation.

In the USA, there are worries that the rising tumult inside Twitter might weaken its safeguards for the midterm elections.

Yoel Roth, the corporate’s head of security and integrity, mentioned on Friday about 15% of staff within the belief and security staff have been let go.

There are related considerations in India, the place social media exercise is predicted to ramp up because the nation prepares for main state elections within the coming months.

Content material moderation is especially tough in India, the place over 22 languages and lots of extra dialects are spoken. Digital rights teams had been demanding a rise in funding within the exercise for years.

“Content material moderation must be particular to geography,” mentioned Vivan Sharan, companion at Delhi-based tech coverage consulting agency Koan Advisory Group.

“Are they interested by treating all customers equally?” he questioned.

— Larry Madowo contributed to this report.

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