United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has said the reports of Twitter’s billionaire new CEO Elon Musk laying off the entire human rights team working with the social media giant were not “an encouraging start”. In an open letter, he urged Musk to make respect for human rights central to Twitter.
There have been reports that half of Twitter’s more than 7,500 employees across the world could be sacked, with Musk taking to the microblogging to claim there is “no choice” because “the company is losing over $4M/day”.
In the open letter, Türk said he was writing with “concern and apprehension about our digital public square and Twitter’s role in it”.
He said Twitter should understand the harms associated with its platform and take measures to address them. “Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform’s use and evolution,” Türk wrote.
“In short, I urge you to ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership.”
— Volker Türk (@volker_turk) November 5, 2022
He also listed six fundamental principles from the rights perspective that he said should be front and centre in the management of Twitter.
Türk said Twitter must protect free speech across the world, and urged the company to “stand up for the rights to privacy and free expression to the full extent possible, under relevant laws”. He, however, noted that “free speech is not a free pass”, and warned Twitter against viral spread of hate speech and misinformation. “Twitter has a responsibility to avoid amplifying content that results in harm to other people’s rights,” he said.
Here is the full text of Volker Türk’s letter to Elon Musk: