UN demands Elon Musk 'ensure human rights' role at Twitter

UNHCR: 'Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform'

'Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them,' UNHCR said.
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Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk must stand up for human rights as he takes control of the global social media platform, the UN has warned.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, issued an open letter on Saturday demanding Musk "ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter".

Half of the company’s workforce has been laid off since Mr Musk took the helm, and tweets by staff have said the team responsible for human rights was among those affected.

Mr Turk said that was not "an encouraging start" and outlined six steps for Twitter to respect human rights.

"Twitter is part of a global revolution that has transformed how we communicate," he said. "But I write with concern and apprehension about our digital public square and Twitter's role in it."

"Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them," he added.

"Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform's use and evolution."

"In short, I urge you to ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership," the High Commissioner said.

Layoffs on Friday capped a chaotic week of chaos about Twitter's under Mr Musk, the world's richest person, who tweeted on Friday that the service was experiencing a "massive drop in revenue".

On Saturday, Twitter updated its app in Apple's App Store to begin charging $8 for sought-after blue check verification marks, his first major revision of the social media platform.

Mr Turk, who has more than 25,000 followers, set out six fundamental principles from a human rights perspective, urging Musk to put them front and centre in the management of Twitter.

They included protecting free speech and privacy, and ensuring transparency.

Mr Turk said Twitter needed to protect free speech and also tackle the spread of harmful disinformation and hate speech.

To protect privacy, Twitter must refrain from invasive tracking of users and data collection.

He added that languages and contextual expertise were vital, and that the company must be a safe platform apply for all languages.

The Twitter layoffs are estimated to be around 3,700. Employees were restricted access to Twitter's offices, as well as their email and other work-related channels.

Staff in the communications, content curation, engineering and machine-learning ethics divisions were among those largely impacted, according to tweets from Twitter staff.

Updated: November 05, 2022, 11:50 PM
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