UN urges Musk to ensure Twitter respects human rights amid massive layoffs

© Olivier Douliery, AFP

UN human rights chief Volker Turk on Saturday urged Twitter's new owner Elon Musk to ensure that respect for human rights is central to the social network following his sacking of around half the company's employees.

Reports of Musk laying off the platform's entire human rights team were "not, from my perspective, an encouraging start", Turk said in an open letter.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said he was writing with "concern and apprehension about our digital public square and Twitter's role in it". Musk, the richest person in the world, took control of the platform a week ago in a contentious deal.

After completing his mammoth $44 billion acquisition, Musk quickly set about dissolving Twitter's board and firing its chief executive and top managers. Twitter on Friday fired roughly half of its 7,500-strong workforce.

"Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them," wrote Turk.

"Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform's use and evolution. In short, I urge you to ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership."

Turk posted the open letter on Twitter, where he has more than 25,000 followers.

Turk set out six fundamental principles from a human rights perspective, urging Musk to put them front and centre in the management of Twitter. They included protecting free speech and privacy, and ensuring transparency.


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