United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk has urged Twitter chief Elon Musk to ensure that human rights are central to the management of Twitter under the latter’s leadership. In an open letter issued to Musk, Türk addressed reports of sacking of Twitter’s entire human rights team and all but two of ethical AI teams and said that it was not “an encouraging start”.
“Twitter is part of a global revolution that has transformed how we communicate. But I write with concern and apprehension about our digital public square and Twitter’s role in it,” Türk stated in the letter.
“Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them. Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform’s use and evolution,” he added.
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He also warned against propagating hate speech and misinformation and highlighted the need to protect user privacy, saying free speech was “not a free pass”.
Türk highlighted the spread of disinformation like that during the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to vaccines and the real world harm it caused. “Twitter has a responsibility to avoid amplifying content that results in harm to other people’s rights,” he stated in the letter.
He also urged the company to continue to bar hatred on the platform through its content moderation policies.
“Spread of hate speech on social media has had horrific consequences for thousands. Twitter’s content moderation policies should continue to bar such hatred on the platform. Every effort needs to be made to remove such content promptly. Human rights law is clear – freedom of expression stops at hatred that incites discrimination, hostility or violence,” the letter read.
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The microblogging site, on Saturday midnight rolled out the paid feature of the $7.99 verification service. Twitter’s new iOS version release on Saturday included the initial launch of the new Twitter Blue subscription.
Musk had earlier announced that it will now cost $8 for anyone owning a verification badge on the microblogging site.
Since his $44bn takeover last week, Musk has dissolved the company’s board, sacked its CEO, Parag Agrawal, along with senior managers, and began mass layoffs on Friday.