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Twitter Said to Prepare for Most Ambitious Quarter as Company Aims to Add 13 Million Daily Active Users

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By Reuters | Updated: 8 June 2022 

Twitter is gearing up for its most ambitious quarter of user growth, leaders of the social media company’s consumer products division told staff on Tuesday.

Twitter is aiming to grow its monetizable daily active users, or users who see advertising, by 13 million this quarter, according to an internal meeting that was heard by Reuters.

It is the highest goal the team has ever set, leaders told staff.

They added that Twitter is on track to reach the goal and has currently achieved 8.5 million in user growth, one of the best growth quarters to date.

Shares of Twitter rose 1 percent in afternoon trading.

The San Francisco-based company is maintaining its ambition to attract new users even as its deal to be acquired by billionaire Elon Musk remains uncertain.

Musk in a filing on Monday warned Twitter that he might walk away from the $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,800 crore) deal if the company does not provide data to allow him to independently verify the proportion of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform.

The company has said in public filings that spam and fake accounts represent fewer than 5 percent of quarterly monetizable daily active users.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined further comment.

The war in Ukraine boosted user activity on Twitter late in the first quarter, but time spent on the platform has declined 4 percent in the current quarter, leaders said.

Twitter added 20 million users during the second quarter of 2020, its highest quarterly sequential growth since at least 2019, as users flocked to the platform for news at the beginning of the pandemic.

Since then, the company has struggled to stay on track to reach its longer-term targets for both user growth and revenue, prompting a hiring freeze and cost-saving measures.

Twitter’s internal goal of 13 million in user growth exceeds Wall Street’s expectations, as analysts on average were projecting growth of 9 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk Calls Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban ‘Grave Mistake’, Condemns Violence

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By Reuters | Updated: 26 November 2022

Twitter’s ban on then President Donald Trump after January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was a “grave mistake” that had to be corrected, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Friday, although he also stated that incitement to violence would continue to be prohibited on Twitter.

“I’m fine with Trump not tweeting. The important thing is that Twitter correct a grave mistake in banning his account, despite no violation of the law or terms of service,” Musk said in a tweet. “Deplatforming a sitting President undermined public trust in Twitter for half of America.”

Last week, Musk announced the reactivation of Trump’s account after a slim majority voted in a Twitter poll in favor of reinstating Trump, who said, however, that he had no interest in returning to Twitter. He added he would stick with his own social media site Truth Social, the app developed by Trump Media & Technology Group.

Republican Trump, who 10 days ago announced he was running for election again in 2024, was banned on January 8, 2021, from Twitter under its previous owners.

At the time, Twitter said it permanently suspended him because of the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the Capitol. The results of the November 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden were being certified by lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked after weeks of false claims by Trump that he had won.

Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other sites to falsely claim there had been widespread voter fraud, and had urged supporters to march on the Capitol in Washington to protest.

The attack is being investigated by US prosecutors and a congressional committee.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday on Musk’s statement that Trump did not violate any Twitter terms of service when his account was suspended.

Earlier on Friday, Musk tweeted that calling for violence or incitement to violence on Twitter would result in suspension, after saying on Thursday that Twitter would provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that had not broken the law or engaged in spam.

Replying to a tweet, Musk said it was “very concerning” that Twitter had taken no action earlier to remove some accounts related to the far-left Antifa movement. In response to another tweet asking if Musk considered the statement “trans people deserve to die” as worthy of suspension from the platform, the billionaire said: “Absolutely”.

Change and chaos have marked Musk’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk Says Twitter Will Grant ‘General Amnesty’ for Suspended Accounts From Next Week

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By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2022

Elon Musk said on Thursday that Twitter will provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts starting next week after running a poll on whether to do so for users who had not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam. In a poll Musk posted on Twitter on Wednesday, 72.4 percent of the more than 3.16 million users who took part voted in favour of bringing back those who had been suspended by the social media platform.

“The people have spoken,” Musk, who acquired Twitter last month, tweeted on Thursday. “Amnesty begins next week.”

Last week, Musk, the world’s richest person, reinstated some previously suspended accounts, including former US President Donald Trump, satirical website Babylon Bee and comedian Kathy Griffin.

He tweeted in October that Twitter would form a content moderation council “with widely diverse viewpoints.” Musk said no major content decisions or account reinstatements would happen before the council convened.

Change and chaos have marked the billionaire’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers, including former Chief Executive Parag Agarwal, and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

Those resignations drew scrutiny from the US Federal Trade Commission, whose mandate includes protecting consumers and which said it was watching Twitter with “deep concern.”

He tweeted in October that Twitter would form a content moderation council “with widely diverse viewpoints.” Musk said no major content decisions or account reinstatements would happen before the council convened.

Change and chaos have marked the billionaire’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers, including former Chief Executive Parag Agarwal, and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

Those resignations drew scrutiny from the US Federal Trade Commission, whose mandate includes protecting consumers and which said it was watching Twitter with “deep concern.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Twitter, Other Social Media Apps Fail to Remove Hate Speech, Says EU Review

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By Associated Press | Updated: 25 November 2022

Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less of it in 2022 compared with the previous year, according to European Union data released Thursday.

The EU figures were published as part of an annual evaluation of online platforms’ compliance with the 27-nation bloc’s code of conduct on disinformation.

Twitter wasn’t alone — most other tech companies signed up to the voluntary code also scored worse. But the figures could foreshadow trouble for Twitter in complying with the EU’s tough new online rules after owner Elon Musk fired many of the platform’s 7,500 full-time workers and an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation and other crucial tasks.

The EU report, carried out over six weeks in the spring, found Twitter assessed just over half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within 24 hours, down from 82 percent in 2021.

In comparison, the amount of flagged material Facebook reviewed within 24 hours fell to 64 percent, Instagram slipped to 56.9 percent and YouTube dipped to 83.3 percent. TikTok came in at 92 percent, the only company to improve.

The amount of hate speech Twitter removed after it was flagged up slipped to 45.4 percent from 49.8 percent the year before. TikTok’s removal rate fell by a quarter to 60 percent, while Facebook and Instagram only saw minor declines. Only YouTube’s takedown rate increased, surging to 90 percent.

“It’s worrying to see a downward trend in reviewing notifications related to illegal hate speech by social media platforms,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova tweeted. “Online hate speech is a scourge of a digital age and platforms need to live up to their commitments.”

Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment. Emails to several staff on the company’s European communications team bounced back as undeliverable.

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last month fanned widespread concern that purveyors of lies and misinformation would be allowed to flourish on the site. The billionaire Tesla CEO, who has frequently expressed his belief that Twitter had become too restrictive, has been reinstating suspended accounts, including former President Donald Trump’s.

Twitter faces more scrutiny in Europe by the middle of next year, when new EU rules aimed at protecting internet users’ online safety will start applying to the biggest online platforms. Violations could result in huge fines of up to 6 percent of a company’s annual global revenue.

France’s online regulator Arcom said it received a reply from Twitter after writing to the company earlier this week to say it was concerned about the effect that staff departures would have on Twitter’s “ability maintain a safe environment for its users.”

Arcom also asked the company to confirm it can meet its “legal obligations” in fighting online hate speech and that it is committed to implementing the new EU online rules. Arcom said it received a response from Twitter and that it will “study their response,” without giving more details.

Tech companies that signed up to the EU’s disinformation code agree to commit to measures aimed at reducing disinformation and file regular reports on whether they’re living up to their promises, though there’s little in the way of punishment.

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Twitter Responds to France Communication Regulator’s Query on Deadline

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By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2022

Twitter has met a Thursday deadline to respond to France’s communications regulator about whether the company can meet its legal obligations, a spokesperson for the regulator said.

Arcom sent a letter on Monday to Twitter asking if it can meet its legal obligation to guarantee transparent information in spite of steep job cuts at the firm.

“Twitter responded to our letter,” the spokesperson for Arcom said. “We will analyse their response. The dialogue is continuing.”

A few days back, it was reported that Twitter’s head of French operations, Damien Viel, said he was quitting the social media platform, whose new owner Elon Musk recently fired top executives and enforced steep job cuts at the company.

“It’s over,” Viel tweeted on Sunday, thanking his team in France, which he led for the last seven years.

Viel confirmed he was leaving Twitter in a separate message to Reuters.

He didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of his departure and declined to say how many people Twitter employed in France either before or after Musk’s takeover of the company last month.

Labour laws in France prevent companies from firing permanent employees overnight. France-based companies have to formally tell staff they aim to dismiss about their plans ahead of time, typically via a letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

They also have to respect certain notice periods, depending on the nature of the dismissal and the seniority of the staff.

For dismissals affecting several employees within 30 days, companies must also follow certain procedures, which entail informing staff, staff representatives and the ministry of labour.

This means the whole process takes at least several weeks and up to several months.

A spokesperson for Twitter in France hasn’t replied to messages seeking comment since Musk’s takeover in October.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk Polls Users on ‘General Amnesty’ for Suspended Twitter Accounts

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 24 November 2022

New Twitter owner Elon Musk on Wednesday polled users on whether the site should offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, using the same method he used to handle the case of Donald Trump.

The move comes as Musk has faced pushback that his criteria for content moderation is subject to his personal whim, with reinstatements decided for certain accounts and not others.

“Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” Musk asked in a tweet.

Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022

The poll was open until 17:46 GMT (11:16 IST) on Thursday and mimicked the strategy used just days ago for the former US president Trump.

Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated Saturday after a narrow majority of respondents supported the move

Polls on Twitter are open to all users and are unscientific and potentially targeted by fake accounts and bots.

A blanket decision on suspended accounts could potentially alarm government authorities that are keeping a close look at Musk’s handling of hateful speech since he bought the influential platform for $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,59,460 crore).

It could also spook Apple and Google, tech titans that have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.

Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

‘No mercy’

Musk’s reinstatement of Trump followed that of other banned accounts including a conservative parody site and a psychologist who had violated Twitter’s rules on language identifying transgender people.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has said that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will not be returning to Twitter and will remain banned from the platform.

Musk on Sunday said he had “no mercy for anyone who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame” due to his own experience with the death of his first child.

Jones has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for his lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, mostly children.

Musk, who closed his buyout of Twitter in late October, did not make clear whether the bans to be covered by the poll were permanent suspensions or temporary ones.

The future of content moderation on Twitter has become an urgent concern, with major advertisers keeping away from the site after a failed relaunch earlier this month saw a proliferation of fake accounts, causing embarrassment.

Meanwhile the teams in charge of keeping nefarious activity off the site have been gutted, victims of Musk-led layoffs that saw half of total employees leave the company.

John Wihbey, a media professor at Northeastern University, speculated that all the chaos might be because Musk is seeking to “buy himself time.”

“Regulators are certainly going to get come after him, both in Europe and maybe the United States… and therefore a lot of what he’s doing is trying to frame those fights,” Wihbey said.

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Meta Spokesperson Denies Report of CEO Mark Zuckerberg Resigning in 2023

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By Reuters | Updated: 23 November 2022

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a tweet on Tuesday that a report on Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg stepping down next year was false. A report on Tuesday stated that Zuckerberg would resign as the company’s CEO next year, and came weeks after the company announced it would lay off over 11,000 employees, or nearly 13 percent of its workforce. The Facebook parent firm has doubled down on its risky metaverse bet, under Zuckerberg’s leadership, amid a crumbling advertising market and decades-high inflation.

News website The Leak earlier in the day reported that Zuckerberg was set to resign in 2023, citing an unnamed insider source. The report briefly sent the company’s shares up 1 percent. Meta spokesperson Andy Stone responded on Twitter, stating “this is false.” in response to a tweet with the story.

Earlier this month, Meta announced it would cut more than 11,000 jobs, or 13 percent of its workforce in what could be one of the biggest mass layoffs this year, and the first in the company’s 18-year history. Firms like Twitter, Microsoft, and Snap have all laid off thousands of employees this year. At the time, the company said that affected employees will also receive shares that were set to vest on November 15 and healthcare coverage for six months, according to Meta, which had 87,314 employees as of the end of September.

Meta, once worth more than $1 trillion (roughly Rs. 81,78,125 crore), is now valued at $256 billion (roughly Rs. 20,93,600 crore) after losing more than 70 percent of its value this year alone.

At the time, the company said that other than the job cuts, which will impact units across Meta with a disproportional hit to the recruiting and business teams, the company will also reduce office space, lower discretionary spending, and extend a hiring freeze into the first quarter to rein in expenses.

Meanwhile, the company expects to pour leftover resources into its Reality Labs unit that is responsible for its metaverse investments. The business lost $9.44 billion (roughly Rs. 77,200 crore) from January to September this year, with losses expected to grow significantly in 2023.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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