Disney Secretly Lays Off Hundreds of “Corrupt” Employees, Potential Privacy Leak With China

in Disney, Disney Parks, Entertainment

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger looking at Disney Brand Image with Castle and Logo

Credit: Inside the Magic

The layoffs that Disney has been constantly undergoing have not only left thousands without a job, but have left many guests of the theme parks, and fans of the entertainment division confused as the company is turning a profit, while slashing those who helped them get there.

D23 Suffers Massive Layoffs, Complete Restructuring Imminent
Credit: D23

Now, a shocking revelation has been revealed sharing that hundreds of employees were secretly let go following a possible data privacy leak.

In February, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that around 7000 layoffs were heading to the Walt Disney Company.

Bob Iger has been tearing through the company ever since he replaced Bob Chapek in November 2022. However, this replacement was not surprising since even previous Disney CEO Michael Eisner said Disney suffered under Chapek.\

Disney CEO Bob Iger posing behind a model of Shanghai Disney Resort
Credit: D23

We first learned of Disney’s mass-layoff plan back at The Walt Disney Company’s Q1 earnings call. Disney CEO Bob Iger dropped the bombshell, declaring that around 7,000 jobs would be cut as a part of this company-wide restructuring. During the call, The Walt Disney Company shared its ginormous profits, posting an increase of 35% on the parks side of things. This translated into $2.1 billion from Disney’s collection of parks alone.

Iger alerted cast members via email when the layoffs began, starting the message with “fellow employees,” Iger said, “This week, we begin notifying employees whose positions are impacted by the company’s workforce reductions. …A second, larger round of notifications will happen in April with several thousand more staff reductions, and we expect to commence the final round of notifications before the beginning of summer to reach our 7000-job target.”

Bob Iger close-up
Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

These layoffs have come in phases, with the third round of planned layoffs starting today, May 22, 2023. This third round affected roughly 2,500 positions.

Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro stated that he did not expect the layoffs to affect hourly workers on the front lines at Walt Disney World. Things have been shaky for Disney ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From its stock price dropping to losing subscribers on its streaming platform Disney+, Disney has been in some hot water over the last few years. We have even seen them lose millions, having to shut down the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel as well as Harmonious, the evening show at EPCOT, following poor audience reception on both fronts.

A family in their room inside of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney – Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser

Now, it is being reported that back in May, there was another round of layoffs that occurred, but it was far less public than the previous rounds that dominated headlines for weeks. The New York Post reported that, “the Mouse House canned more than 300 people in late March, days before CEO Bob Iger was scheduled to meet with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who has been a tenacious critic of data security and China’s ability to access American consumer data.”

Not only did Disney not share too much information regarding another massive round of layoffs, but the timing of the layoffs is very suspicious.

The publication continued, “The group of employees had access to some US customer data, according to people familiar with the matter, and Disney’s lawyers voiced concerns that the Beijing team had such access, noting that even though the data had been accessible by staff there for years, it “could be seen as a potential red flag by the committee.”

Cast Members cheer on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Paris
Credit: Disney

China is an important revenue driver for Disney, whose Marvel-owned movie studio in 2019 sold more than $600 million worth of tickets in China with Avengers: Endgame, helping it become the second-highest-grossing movie of all time. For Disney, China has emerged as pivotal to its ongoing consumer growth.

It seems that Disney has claimed that the layoffs were unrelated and were merely part of its ongoing cost-saving initiative.

“Disney’s decision to restructure and consolidate these operations was not motivated by data security vulnerability concerns,” a company rep said. The New York Post continued, “Sources said while Disney says it stores all US streaming customer data domestically, the Beijing staff worked on features such as “personalization and search” that require access to some subscriber information.”

As we know, Republicans and Democrats have been critical in recent years about the Chinese government’s ability to access American user data, so any sort of leak coming from Disney would be detrimental to the company.

Bob Iger posing in front of several screens displaying various Disney owned properties
Credit: Disney

Gallagher and others in Congress have been vocal that China’s government could use its leverage, especially in the tech and media industries, to not only strengthen its military capabilities but use Americans’ user data to influence US pop culture by forcing entertainment companies to self-censor, which could help burnish China’s global image.

China has banned some of its biggest movies, such as Black Widow, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which Disney says has contributed to disappointing box-office results for its Marvel Studios.

We have seen security breach issues arise in the past when it comes to Disney, especially with Disney+ and passwords being compromised.

One content creator has gone viral on TikTok after sharing her story on how her account on Disney+ was hacked. It seems that the hacker not only got in, but made their own profile and changed age restrictions. Watch the video here. 

All of the different Disney+ titles surrounding the logo
Credit: Disney

It seems that this is something that has been happening to many people, as the comments on the video generally say, “I thought i was the only one ☝🏽” and “Someone had my Disney Plus account and my last straw was them changing all my language settings to Spanish”.

Another added, “Our Disney account gets hacked regularly. One time, they changed every profile pic and name.”

“Someone hacked my mom’s account and deleted the whole family’s profiles instead of watching whatever … mom deleted the account lmao,” another Disney+ customer added.

“Protecting your privacy and security is a top priority for The Walt Disney Company and we have implemented several processes to ensure we protect your data,” reads the Disney+ online help center. “To ensure your account is safe, if we notice suspicious login activity, our policy is to lock your account within four hours and end all active sessions associated with your Disney+ subscription.” Users are then directed to reset their password.

Credit: Disney Plus

According to Wired, “Disney rejects any suggestion that its systems have been hacked. “We have found no evidence of a security breach,” the company said in a statement. “We continuously audit our security systems, and when we find an attempted suspicious login, we proactively lock the associated user account and direct the user to select a new password.”

What do you think about Disney’s secret layoff initiative? Do you think a security breach is at hand with customer and consumer data and privacy? 

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