Hillicon Valley — Civil rights groups urge Twitter ad pause

Happy Friday (and final weekend until Election Day), we hope you’re still hanging on after this whirlwind tech news week.

Today we’re breaking down the latest fallout of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, including advocacy groups calling for advertisers to pause all ads on the platform and former staff suing the company after mass layoffs.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter?

Advocates: Twitter layoffs undermined safety pledges

Leaders of dozens of civil rights and other advocacy groups are criticizing Elon Musk’s mass layoffs at Twitter, saying they undermine the commitments he made to the organizations to keep safety and election integrity measures in place on the platform ahead of Election Day.

Reports on Thursday indicated Musk planned to slash roughly half of Twitter jobs. The layoffs, which were widely reported and indicated by staff on the platform itself, sparked uproar and pushed the civil rights groups to escalate their call to advertisers to pause all ads on Twitter.

Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, one of the leaders Musk met with earlier this week, said the Twitter CEO seemed “genuine and sincere” at the time but that the groups were clear that if he broke the commitments he made they would ramp up pressure.

  • “We were clear that actions speak louder than words, and here we are with his actions that are much louder and much more consequential than anything he said at the meeting,” Robinson said.  

  • More than 60 civil rightsgroups are urging advertisers to pause ads on Twitter, ramping up their call earlier this week for companies to suspend ads if Musk followed through on his indications to relax content moderation on the site.

Read more here.

Musk’s take: The new twitter owner said on Friday that the company has seen a “massive drop” in revenue since he took its helm last week.

“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Musk wrote on the platform.

Former staff members sue Musk

Twitter is being sued over new owner Elon Musk’s decision to cut 3,700 staff jobs.

A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where Twitter headquarters are located, by a handful of former employees.

The employees argue that Musk broke federal and California state law by not giving enough notice for mass layoffs.

The lawsuit claims that Musk violated both the federal and state WARN Act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires large companies to give 60 days’ notice before issuing mass layoffs.

One of the plaintiffs named in the suit said they were terminated Tuesday and three other staffers were locked out of there Twitter accounts on Thursday, which they took to mean they are being let go, with no formal notice of a layoff, according to court documents.

Read more here.


YouTube is facing renewed pressure to crack down on Spanish-language disinformation in a letter sent to the tech giant Friday by Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

The Democrats told YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki they have “serious concern with the continued lack of action and transparency” from the company in regard to the spread of false narratives, especially in Spanish, as it related to the upcoming midterm election, according to a copy of the letter exclusively shared with The Hill.

“It is critical that YouTube prioritize platform safety and content moderation for non-English speakers on the platform. However, despite repeated assurances that this is a top priority for the company, reporting on rampant misinformation spread on the platform continues,” the Democrats wrote.

Read more here.


Twitter users overwhelmingly say they would rather abandon the social media platform than pay for it, according to a new survey published Friday.

Just 36 percent of participants said that they would probably pay for a monthly Twitter subscription service following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.

The Harris Poll, a market research and consulting firm, conducted the national survey Oct. 28-30 among 2,063 adults. About 1,210 of those polled were Twitter users. The survey asked participants questions about their thoughts on Musk, Twitter in general and the subscription

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: US contractors that commit human trafficking must no longer slip through the cracks

Notable links from around the web:

Biden Team to Push ‘Ambitious’ Antitrust Crackdown on Big Tech in Congress (Bloomberg / Emily Birnbaum)

Who are Elon Musk’s right-hand men at Twitter? (NBC News / Daniel Arkin and David Ingram)

🔥 Lighter click: Look closer

One more thing: Poll shows concern over violence

Almost 90 percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll say they are concerned about an increased risk of political violence.

The numbers released Friday, collected over the phone from Sunday through Wednesday, after the violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), show that more than 60 percent are “very concerned” that political violence is on the rise.

Democrats are most worried about a potential increase in politically motivated violence, 95 percent of respondents who identify with the party saying they are somewhat or very concerned.

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week.

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