Twitter is laying off its employees
A week after being purchased by billionaire Elon Musk, Twitter on Friday lay off staff throughout the company in a dramatic wave of cost reduction that may potentially upend how one of the world’s most influential platforms runs.
On Thursday night and Friday morning, a number of Twitter workers began claiming that they had been locked out of their workplace email accounts, apparently in preparation for the impending layoff notification. Some employees also indicated their departure from the organisation by using blue heart and salute emojis.
On Friday morning, a number of former Twitter workers announced their dismissal via the social media platform. These individuals worked in a variety of areas, including ethical AI, marketing and communication, search, public policy, wellness, and others. According to internal messages, the company also eliminated jobs from its curation team, which helps highlight trustworthy content, such as those related to elections.
One Twitter worker remarked, “Just got remotely logged out of my work laptop and taken from Slack.” It’s a shame it ended this way.
Another worker said that she and the rest of the human rights team at Twitter had been let go. The worker went on to say that she is pleased with the group’s efforts “to protect those at risk in global conflicts & crises including Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Ukraine and to defend the needs of those particularly at risk of human rights abuse by virtue of their social media presence, such as journalists & human rights defenders.”
Simon Balmain, a senior community manager at Twitter who was let go on Friday, told CNN that he had been cut off from Slack, email, and other internal services about eight hours before getting an email on Friday morning confirming his termination. Furthermore, he stated that the layoff email “still didn’t provide any details really” as to why he had been fired.
The “extraordinary solidarity we’ve seen from people that are in the firm, people who are in the same position, people that left the company in years past” has helped to “mitigate the waves of aggravation and fury and all that stuff,” Balmain said. To paraphrase, “It’s like a gigantic support network, which has been just great.”
One of the laid-off Twitter staffers told CNN on Friday that some employees are happy to be out of a job. One worker even went so far as to say that being safe would have felt like punishment.
Musk appeared for a cheerful interview at an investor conference on Friday, while Twitter employees were tweeting about being laid off. He talked about his plans to make affordable electric automobiles and to eventually travel to Mars. Musk claimed, “I tried to get out of the agreement” when asked about his desire to sell Twitter, but later remarked, “I think there is a great amount of potential… and I think it might be one of the most valuable companies in the world.”
Musk acknowledged the interviewer’s statement that he had fired “half of Twitter,” but he made no further comment. It seems like he justified the layoffs by saying the company was suffering “revenue issues” before he bought it, a common problem among social media companies as advertisers cut down on spending due to economic uncertainty.
Furthermore, Musk said that “a number of significant advertisers had ceased spending on Twitter” after the transaction closed.
The exact number of Twitter employees that have been or will be terminated is unknown. Before Musk’s takeover, Twitter had around 7,500 employees. As Musk rethinks Twitter’s operations and tries to improve the firm’s bottom line after taking out heavy debt financing to fund his $44 billion acquisition, rumours have surfaced that the company could lay off anywhere from 25% to 50% of its workforce in the coming days.
Thursday night, employees were informed via email that they will get a notification by Friday at noon ET detailing their employment status.
An excerpt from the email read, “If your employment is not impacted, you will receive a message via your Twitter email.” CNN was able to obtain this email for verification purposes. You will be notified through email if your job is affected.
To “help protect the safety” of staff and Twitter’s systems, the email stated, “the company’s offices will be temporarily shuttered and all badge access will be suspended.”
As the email closed, it admitted that this would be “an extraordinarily tough experience to go through” for employees.
On Thursday night, a group of Twitter employees filed a class action complaint against the company, claiming that by laying off some employees, Twitter had violated the federal and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).
If a company with over 100 employees is planning a mass layoff “affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment,” they must give their workers 60 days’ written notice in advance.
According to Forbes, “Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, has made it apparent that he believes compliance with federal labour regulations is ‘trivial.'” In a statement to CNN, the lawsuit’s filing attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, made the following claims. We filed this federal case to make Twitter answer to U.S. laws and protect Twitter workers from giving up their rights without realising it.
According to CNN’s investigation, the Employment Development Department in California has established that Twitter has not filed any WARN letters as of Friday noon.
Other labour attorneys told CNN on Friday that they had started getting calls from former Twitter employees wondering if their dismissals amounted to illegal discrimination or retaliation.
According to Chauniqua Young, a partner at Outten & Golden, “former Twitter employees have reached out to us regarding their layoffs and the circumstances, and so we’re looking at all the issues — beyond appropriate notice — and to make sure the employee wasn’t laid off due to their membership in a protected category.”
Other legal experts warn that Musk’s management of the cuts may create significant challenges for him in the future, whether in terms of luring new talent or by keeping the surviving employees content.
According to Terri Gerstein, a fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program and Economic Policy Institute at Harvard Law School, “Once you treat people like this, they remember it.” It’s safe to assume that the surviving staff doesn’t feel safe in their jobs, and it would surprise me if they weren’t busy revising their applications or discussing organising a union right this second.
Two sources close to the situation have confirmed that Musk’s first act as Twitter CEO was to dismiss Parag Agrawal and two other executives.
And it looks that in the less than a week since Musk acquired the company, practically the entire C-suite has left the company, either through resignation or termination. Twitter’s previous board of directors has also been dissolved by Musk.
Several members of staff summed up their emotions on Friday using the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked, a play on a hashtag that was popular among Twitter’s workforce in the past.