Tech platforms in trouble: Social media companies downsizing, facing government scrutiny

Big tech companies are in trouble. Prominent social media platforms Twitter and Meta are laying off thousands of workers and changing their companies as they face new government scrutiny.

Twitter’s chief information security officer resigned Thursday, announcing the departure as the company’s new owner, Elon Musk, toyed with changes in how the platform verifies the authenticity and authority of its users.

“I have made the difficult decision to leave Twitter,” outgoing executive Lea Kissner said on Twitter. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people and I’m so proud of the privacy, security and IT teams and the work we’ve done.”

The information security chief isn’t the only one in the executive reportedly headed for the exit. Twitter’s chief privacy officer and chief compliance officer have also reportedly left the company.

The prominent departures come on top of layoffs that gathered momentum last week and a message from Mr Musk to remaining workers that tougher times are ahead.

Ensuring more Twitter users pay is key to the platform’s success, Mr. Musk said in a message to Twitter employees Wednesday night.

SEE ALSO: Twitter’s Information Security Chief Quits While Musk Changes Verification

“Without significant subscription revenue, there’s a good chance Twitter won’t survive the upcoming economic downturn,” Musk said in the statement. “We need about half of our subscription revenue.”

The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has overhauled the process for holding the Twitter blue badge and is working to introduce a $8 monthly fee to have the tick status icon and make it available to a wider audience.

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Some users have tried to poke fun at Twitter’s new approach, and the company has had varying degrees of success in blocking people from impersonating others after receiving the blue verification badge.

When a Twitter user told Mr. Musk on Thursday that a verified account of video game character Mario made an obscene gesture and someone impersonating President Biden spoke of performing a sexual act on themselves, Mr. Musk responded with a laugh emoji

Twitter briefly applied an additional “official” label to verified accounts on Wednesday, before Mr. Musk said he had scrapped the label.

“Please note that Twitter will be doing a lot of stupid things in the coming months,” Mr Musk said on Twitter. “We will keep what works and change what doesn’t work.”

SEE ALSO: Biden says foreign Twitter funding is worth scrutinizing

The chaos on Twitter comes as President Biden said Mr Musk’s foreign ties were “worth investigating”.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr Biden said he was not suggesting that Mr Musk did anything improper, but the president believed the new Twitter owner’s past collaboration and potential technical ties with other countries merited scrutiny.

Twitter isn’t the only tech platform facing a new government scrutiny. Earlier this week, a coalition of attorneys general for 23 states plus DC and Guam asked a federal court to side with the Federal Trade Commission against Meta and block the tech titan’s acquisition of virtual reality company Within Unlimited.

However, Meta may face greater challenges due to economic pressures. Earlier this week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he would lay off more than 11,000 employees, which accounts for about 13% of the company’s workforce.

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Mr. Zuckerberg told employees earlier this week he viewed layoffs as a last resort, was taking other cost-cutting measures and said he would extend the company’s hiring freeze.

“Not only has online commerce returned to previous trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition and loss of advertising signals have resulted in our revenues being much lower than I anticipated,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a statement to the employees. “I got that wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

• This article was based in part on reports from bike services.