UN urges Musk to ensure human rights are central to management of Twitter

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WASHINGTON: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk on Saturday issued an open letter to the new CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk and urged him to “ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter,” following the reports of layoff of entire human rights team of the micro-blogging site.

“In short, I urge you to ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership,” Turk said in a letter.

“Twitter is part of a global revolution that has transformed how we communicate. But I write with concern and apprehension about our digital public square and Twitter’s role in it,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated in the letter.

“Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them. Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform’s use and evolution,” he added.

In his letter, Turk urged Twitter to stand up for the rights to privacy and free expression to the full extent possible, under relevant laws, and to transparently report on Government requests that would infringe those rights.

The viral spread of harmful disinformation, like that seen during the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to vaccines, results in real-world harm. Twitter has a responsibility to avoid amplifying content that results in harm to other people’s rights.

In the letter, he further said that there is no room for the hatred that incites discrimination, hostility or violence on Twitter.

“Research is essential to better understand social media’s impact on our societies. Maintain access to Twitter’s data through its open application programming interfaces (APIs),” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

Free speech depends on the effective protection of privacy. It is vital that Twitter refrains from invasive user tracking and amassing related data and that it resists, to the fullest extent possible under applicable laws, unjustified requests from governments for user data.

Former Twitter Human Rights Counsel Shannon Raj Singh shared the news that the company’s human rights team was eliminated Friday.

“Yesterday was my last day at Twitter: the entire Human Rights team has been cut from the company. I am enormously proud of the work we did to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, to protect those at-risk in global conflicts & crises including Ethiopia,” he tweeted.

Elon Musk started laying off Twitter employees on Friday. As per an unsigned internal memo seen by The Verge, Twitter employees were notified in the email that the layoffs were set to begin. Musk is expected to cut roughly half of Twitter’s roughly 7,500-person workforce. The layoff came a week after Musk became the Twitter owner. (ANI)

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