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Amid mass Twitter layoffs, UN urges Elon Musk to ‘ensure human rights are central’ to company’s management

United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk urged Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner and CEO, to “ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter.”

The letter comes a day after the billionaire sacked half of Twitter’s workforce following an announcement that the social media platform was losing more than $4 million per day.

In this photo illustration, the image of Elon Musk is displayed on a computer screen and the logo of twitter on a mobile phone in Ankara, Turkey, on Oct. 6, 2022.  (Muhammed Selim Korkutata / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

In the open letter published on Saturday, Türk wrote, “Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform’s use and evolution.”

The U.N. Human Rights Chief urged Twitter’s “Chief Twit” to stand up for the right to privacy, and stressed that Twitter has a responsibility to avoid amplifying content that results in harming other people’s rights.

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Türk encouraged Musk to foster user’s “rights to privacy and free expression.” 

She conversely included that “free speech is not a free pass,” using the example of the spread of “harmful” disinformation from the COVID-19 pandemic “in relation to vaccines.”

Twitter logo

A Twitter headquarters sign is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. Employees were bracing for widespread layoffs at Twitter on Friday, as new owner Elon Musk overhauls the social platform.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu / AP Newsroom)

Türk continued, arguing that Twitter’s content moderation should continue to bar “hatred that incites discrimination,” adding that “they know that hate speech spreads like wildfire on social media platforms in countries with starkly different cultural, political, and religious contexts-with horrific, life-threatening consequences for thousands of people.” 

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Her words of warning come as the billionaire balances his promise to restore free speech on the social media platform while simultaneously preventing the platform from descending into a “free-for-all hellscape,” which he has vowed to prevent. 

Türk’s open letter concluded by stating that “Twitter has much to offer to our common agenda for a better world, but we need to be clear-eyed as to what is required to make that a reality.”

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