Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter descended deeper into chaos Thursday as key security executives resigned from the platform, prompting a sharp warning from US regulators.
The strikes came a day after the chaotic launch of new features made by Tesla and SpaceX owner Musk after his $44 million purchase of the influential messaging app.
Musk on Thursday warned employees that the site is dangerously burning with cash, raising the specter of bankruptcy if the situation is not changed.
“I made the difficult decision to leave Twitter,” tweeted chief security officer Leah Kesner, who is said to have resigned along with other privacy or security executives.
In the most unusual departure, US media reported that Yoel Roth, the site’s head of trust and security, had resigned after just a day after vigorously defending Musk’s content modification policy for advertisers.
Also out was Robin Wheeler, who played a key role in connecting Twitter with advertisers and was considered a key Musk ally within the company.
Anarchy followed the unveiling of the site’s much-anticipated Twitter Blue subscription service, which allows users to pay $7.99 a month for a coveted blue tick, as well as a separate gray “official” badge for some high-profile accounts.
But the release turned into a cacophony on Wednesday when Musk almost immediately scrapped the new gray flag, overshadowing the launch of the payment service, which is currently only available on the mobile app on iPhones and in the US.
The launch also saw the emergence of a wave of fake accounts as users took the opportunity to impersonate celebrities and politicians such as NBA star LeBron James or former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The chaos sparked a rare warning from the Federal Trade Commission, the US consumer safety authority that has put Twitter on scrutiny for past security and privacy violations.
“We are following recent developments on Twitter with deep concern,” an FTC spokesperson said in a statement.
“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decisions,” the spokesperson added, referring to previous commitments by Twitter to comply with US privacy rules.
Violating FTC decisions could cost Twitter millions of dollars in fines.
The head of Tesla and SpaceX fired half of the California company’s 7,500 employees a week ago, ten days after buying the site and becoming its sole owner.
For the first time since the layoff, Musk on Thursday addressed the rest of his employees and urged them to help the site reach one billion users, according to employee text messages seen by AFP.
Musk also warned that the company was bleeding cash and expressed fear of the effects of a weak economy on his newly acquired business.
“You may have noticed that I sold a bunch of Tesla stock. He is said to have said, ‘The reason I did it was to save Twitter.’
Twitter has also been paralyzed by advertisers’ decision to move away from the site, concerned about Musk’s plans.
The billionaire announced that he was ending Twitter’s work-from-home policies, which were a pervasive practice at the San Francisco-based company.
“If you don’t show up to the office, accept the resignation,” he told employees.
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