- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 10, 2022

Major tech companies are in trouble. Prominent social media platforms Twitter and Meta are laying off thousands of workers and changing their businesses while facing new governmental scrutiny.

Twitter’s chief information security officer quit on Thursday, announcing the departure as the company’s new owner Elon Musk has toyed with changes to how the platform verifies the authenticity and authority of its users.

“I’ve made the hard decision to leave Twitter,” departing executive Lea Kissner said on Twitter. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people, and I’m so proud of the privacy, security, and IT teams and the work we’ve done.” 

The information security chief is not the only one in leadership reportedly heading for the exit. Twitter’s chief privacy officer and chief compliance officer have also both left the company, according to reports.

The prominent departures come on top of layoffs that picked up steam last week and a message from Mr. Musk to remaining workers that more difficult times lay ahead.

Ensuring more Twitter users pay is key to the platform’s success, Mr. Musk told Twitter employees in a message on Wednesday night.

SEE ALSO: Twitter’s information security chief quits amid Musk changes to verification

“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn,” Mr. Musk said in the message. “We need roughly half of our revenue to be subscription.”

The SpaceX and Tesla CEO has overhauled the process for holding Twitter’s blue badge and is working to implement an $8 monthly fee to have the checkmark status symbol, making it available to a wider audience.

Some users have sought to make a mockery of Twitter’s new approach, and the company has had varying degrees of success in preventing people from impersonating others after obtaining the blue badge of verification. 

When a Twitter user told Mr. Musk on Thursday that a verified account of videogame character Mario was making an obscene gesture and someone impersonating President Biden was talking about performing a sexual act on himself, Mr. Musk replied with laughing emojis.

Twitter momentarily applied an additional “official” label on verified accounts on Wednesday before Mr. Musk said he scrapped the label.

“Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. “We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”

The chaos at Twitter comes as President Biden said Mr. Musk’s relationships with foreign countries are “worthy of being looked at.” 

In a Wednesday press conference, Mr. Biden said he was not suggesting Mr. Musk did something inappropriate, but the president believed the new Twitter owner’s past cooperation and potential technical relationships with other countries merited a review.

Twitter is not the only tech platform facing new government scrutiny. Earlier this week, a coalition of attorneys general for 23 states plus D.C. and Guam urged a federal court to side with the Federal Trade Commission against Meta and block the tech titan’s acquisition of the virtual reality company Within Unlimited.

Meta, however, is facing perhaps bigger challenges due to economic pressures. Earlier this week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was laying off more than 11,000 employees representing approximately 13% of the company’s workforce.

Mr. Zuckerberg told employees earlier this week he viewed layoffs as a last resort, was taking other cost-cutting measures, and said that he was extending the company’s hiring freeze.

“Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a message to employees. “I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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