After Elon Musk made his first offer to buy Twitter in April—before subsequently trying to renege on the deal—the company’s then CEO, Parag Agrawal, held a town hall with its reportedly “shock[ed] and dismay[ed]” workforce, which was not at all enthused about the billionaire becoming their new overlord. Seven months later, amid a raft of resignations and internal calls to blow the whistle on Musk, it does not appear that the new Twitter owner has won over any hearts or minds.
On Wednesday, three top Twitter executives—chief information security officer Lea Kissner, chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty—left the company, one day before a major deadline to submit a compliance report to the Federal Trade Commission.
Over Twitter, Kissner confirmed that they had left the platform. Fogarty tweeted days before their departure: “I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I certainly don’t want to play it at work.” The trio’s departures come just after half the company was laid off. They also come amid fears that Musk is rolling out new features before they can be properly vetted. (For example, Twitter Blue, which allows people to pay a monthly fee for a blue “verification” check mark, cleared the way for dozens of accounts to impersonate high-profile individuals and brands, i.e., the whole reason verification badges were initially implemented in the first place.) They also follow reported resignations earlier this month by Leslie Berland, the company’s chief marketing officer and head of people; Jean-Philippe Maheu, vice president of global client solutions; Sarah Personette, chief customer officer; and Dalana Brand, chief people and diversity officer. Jay Sullivan, the company’s head of product, is also suspected to have left the company after deleting Twitter from his bio.
Perhaps most worrisome—if Musk were the type of person to worry about such things, take constructive criticism, etc.—was the note reportedly posted to Slack by an attorney for the company’s privacy team warning of the grave legal risks Musk is taking. The missive pointed employees to the company’s ethics hotline, a number to get in touch with the FTC, and a website where they can obtain whistleblower protection. Touching on everything from Musk’s return-to-office policy to the excessive hastiness of his new product launches, it reads:
Twitter is a remote-first workplace, and has operated as such for years. It is a fundamental change to our employment contracts to require a 40hr a week in-office requirement. I do not, personally, believe that Twitter employees have an obligation to return to office. Certainly not on no notice (if at all).
Over the last two weeks. Elon has shown that he cares only about recouping the losses he’s incurring as a result of failing to get out of his binding obligation to buy Twitter. He chose to enter into that agreement! All of us are being put through this as a result of the choices he made.
Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them. I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetizable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.
I have heard Alex Spiro (current head of Legal) say that Elon is willing to take on a huge amount of risk in relation to this company and its users, because “Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.”
Also, given that the FTC can (and will!) fine Twitter BILLIONS of dollars pursuant to the FTC Consent Order, extremely detrimental to Twitter’s longevity as a platform. Our users deserve so much better than this.
Please also note the FTC’s number is: 1-877-FTC-HELP. You may also remember that Mudge reached out to httos://whistlebloweraid.org.
Mudge presumably refers to Peiter Zatko, who was hired by Twitter in 2020 to lead security and later became a whistleblower, telling Congress: “Twitter leadership is misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors. The company’s cybersecurity failures make it vulnerable to exploitation, causing real harm to real people.” Spiro did not immediately return a request for comment from Vanity Fair.