The defender of free speech at Twitter made an unexpected move on Friday as he stepped down from his role as general counsel. The microblogging company is moving closer toward a long expected initial public offering of stock.
Alexander Macgillivray, who is known for fending off legal challenges to Twitter users’ rights to express themselves in pithy 140-character messages, he himself tweeted the news on Friday without giving a reason for the action. In a blog post, he said he is looking forward to the move.
Macgillivray’s tweet read, “I’m looking forward to engaging my various internet passions from new and different perspectives, seeing friends and family without distraction, and just goofing off a bit. We should all do more of that.”
In September 2009, Macgillivray became Twitter’s top legal officer. In his resignation announcement he indicated he would stand in the role of an adviser for the company, which is based in San Francisco, California.
Twitter declined to comment, but said Vijaya Gadde will take over the role. Gadde has been managing the company’s corporate and international legal work. Gadde is former senior director in Juniper Network Inc’s legal department. Gadde is said to have extensive experience in corporate and securities law, while Macgillivray specialized in intellectual property. Twitter currently has 200 million active users. The company is expected to go public in 2014, which is a move that has been highly anticipated.
Everyone in the business world considers Macgillivray’s resignation to be a suprise and was completely unexpected. He is well known for his support of free speech and for constantly standing up for Twitter account holders and their rights to post their personal beliefs and opinions.
Back in 2012, Macgillivray’s legal team fought a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s Twitter posts. He also helped Twitter resist when India’s government asked Twitter to remove some tweets that they considered to be inflammatory. During the same year, he publicly apologized after Twitter suspended the account of a British journalist briefly for posting the work email address of an NBC executive. The journalist had been openly critical of the network’s Olympics coverage, around which Twitter built a marketing initiative.
Previously, Twitter’s public policy group had reported to Macgillivray. Now they will report directly to Chief Executive Dick Costolo, according to the company. As a result, it has been pointed out that Twitter has a longstanding commitment to free speech and privacy principles, which will not be negatively impact by the departure of Macgillivray.
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