Twitter has dissolved its entire Brussels office, according to media reports, raising questions about the social media company’s compliance with new EU laws to control big tech.
Julia Mozer and Dario La Nasa, who were in charge of Twitter’s digital policy in Europe, left the company last week, the Financial Times reported.
The couple had survived an initial slaughter when Elon Musk laid off thousands of staff following his takeover last month. It’s unclear whether Mozer and La Nasa were fired or opted out in response to Musk’s ultimatum to commit to “extremely hardcore” long hours or resign.
It was also unclear whether Twitter was closing its office in the European capital, one of the world’s biggest hubs for tech regulation.
Questions to Twitter’s press office went unanswered, while Moser and La Nasa did not immediately respond to messages.
In the first round of layoffs, Twitter laid off about half of its 7,500 employees, disbanding entire teams, including human rights, machine learning, and algorithmic ethics. Among the thousands who lost their jobs was Brussels bureau chief Stephen Turner. He tweeted on November 14: “After 6 years, I am officially retired from Twitter. From setting up the office in Brussels to building a great team, it has been an incredible journey.”
The collapse of the small Brussels team has raised questions about the company’s ability to enforce new rules meant to curb the power of big tech and curb hate speech. EU officials are said to have many contacts based in Dublin, where Twitter has its European headquarters, although that office has also faced 50% cuts. “I can confirm that we have active and continuous contact with Twitter (and other platforms) on different topics,” said a spokesperson for the European Commission.
Senior officials have said they are confident that the departures from the Brussels office do not threaten Twitter’s ability to comply with key EU laws affecting big tech companies.
The news came as the commission revealed that Twitter – along with most other tech companies – had become slower in responding to reports of hate speech. In 2016, major social media companies agreed a code of conduct with the EU executive, pledging to assess most hate speech notifications within 24 hours. Over a seven-week period this year, Twitter only rated 54% of notifications within 24 hours, part of a general decline in performance for most code signers.
The company will also have to fight the EU’s Digital Markets Act, a landmark law designed to curb the dominance of big platforms that came into force this month.