Twitter's top global policy official departs as layoffs continue

By and
Twitter corporate headquarters building in San Francisco, California
Twitter corporate headquarters building is seen in downtown San Francisco, California, U.S. November 21, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Dec 22 (Reuters) - Twitter Inc's public policy chief has left the company amid additional layoffs to the unit on Thursday, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, as billionaire owner Elon Musk continues to slash costs.

Sinead McSweeney, global vice president for public policy, has left Twitter, according to two sources. McSweeney's departure has not been previously reported.

The layoffs and departures of a high-ranking leader comes as regulators around the globe question Twitter's content moderation work and protection of user data after Musk cut the staff from more than 7,000 to under 2,000.

The public policy team is responsible for interacting with lawmakers and civil society on issues including free speech, privacy and online safety.

It handles requests from governments and civil rights groups to remove problematic content and sets rules to protect vulnerable users. With fewer staff, backlogs could increase and some policies in development could be ignored, one of the sources said.

Nick Pickles, senior director for global public policy strategy, has taken over McSweeney's role, the two sources said.

McSweeney, Pickles, Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last month, European Union Commissioner Thierry Breton told Musk the platform faces "huge work ahead" to comply with European regulations on content moderation, removing disinformation and limiting targeted advertising.

The EU will conduct a "stress test" at Twitter's headquarters early next year to assess compliance.

A senior German official said on Thursday that the EU should directly monitor Twitter because its erratic behavior under Musk posed a threat to free speech.

One source told Reuters that half of the 30 remaining members of Twitter's public policy team were cut on Wednesday, implying 15 people were laid off.

The layoffs were first reported by The Information.

Media reports this week said McSweeney, who is based in Dublin, settled with Twitter after winning a temporary court injunction to stop the company from firing her after she did not respond to a company-wide email from Musk demanding that employees agree to a "hardcore" culture or leave.

Musk said Wednesday that Twitter was facing a "negative cash flow situation of $3 billion" next year and was the reason why he has moved to aggressively cut costs.

Reporting by Fanny Potkin and Paresh Dave; Writing by Sheila Dang; Editing by Kenneth Li and Josie Kao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

San Francisco Bay Area-based tech reporter covering Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. Joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times focused on the local tech industry.