Elon Musk, the new owner of twitterdefended the layoffs of nearly half of the online platform’s workforce, saying they had “no choice”.
According to Joel Roth, head of security and integrity at the social media giant, as many as 50% of Twitter employees were laid off on Friday.
In a tweet, Musk said, “With regard to Twitter’s power cut, there is unfortunately no option when the company is losing more than $4 million a day.”
Musk, the world’s richest man, said that “Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged.”
On Friday, Twitter Inc temporarily closed its offices after telling employees they would be notified by email later in the day if they were fired.
Twitter had 7,500 employees before Musk’s acquisition, which means that about 3,700 jobs have been lost.
The billionaire founder of SpaceX, Tesla and PayPal has been trying to cut costs on the social platform he bought for $44 billion (€44.9 billion) a week ago.
In his tweet defending the layoffs, Musk said all departing employees were “offered 3 months of severance pay, which is 50% more than required by law.”
Reports of mass layoffs on Friday raised concerns about content moderation, with NGOs and campaigners claiming the changes could lead to more harmful content or misinformation on the site.
Tweets from Twitter employees said teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics were among the dead, as were some product and engineering teams.
“To be clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged,” it tweeted Friday night, claiming that “hate speech” had “dropped” below normal levels this week.
Advertisers have cut spending in recent days over content moderation concerns.
But in a tweet posted later that day, Roth said most of Twitter’s 2,000 content moderators working on the “front line” were not affected.
He said the “power cut” affected about 15% of those working in Twitter’s trust and security organization – compared to what he said was a 50% cut across the company.
Roth said fighting disinformation remained a “top priority” during the US midterm elections. Most Americans will vote on Tuesday in a key test for Joe Biden’s presidency.
How Twitter employees record the news
Twitter’s offices were temporarily closed on Friday and all access to badges was suspended “to help ensure the safety of every employee, Twitter systems and customer data,” the company said. .
Some employees tweeted that their access to the company’s IT system had been blocked and they feared this would suggest they had been fired.
A user with the account @SBkcrn tweeted: “Looks like I’m unemployed. I just logged out of my work laptop and removed it from Slack.
User Rachel Bon tweeted: “Last Thursday in the SF (San Francisco) office was actually Twitter’s last day of Twitter. 8 months pregnant and 9 months in. I just don’t have access to a laptop.’
Twitter employees express their frustration over the layoffs on the social network with the hashtag #OneTeam.
A class action lawsuit was filed against Twitter on Thursday by its employees, alleging that the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing the required 60 days’ notice, in violation of federal and California law.
The lawsuit also asked San Francisco federal court to issue an injunction barring Twitter from signing documents without notifying employees of the pending case.
Musk has tasked Twitter teams with finding up to $1 billion (€1.02 billion) in annual infrastructure cost savings, according to two sources familiar with the matter and an internal Slack post reviewed by Reuters.
He has already cleaned up the company’s senior ranks by removing the company’s CEO and top financial and legal officials. Others, including people at the top of the company’s advertising, marketing and human resources departments, left last week.
For those remaining employees, there are also rumors that Twitter’s policy of working remotely during the pandemic is coming to an end.
‘Chaos and uncertainty’
Musk’s first week as Twitter owner has been mired in controversy.
Two company-wide meetings were scheduled, which were canceled hours later. Employees told Reuters they struggled to gather information through media posts, private message groups and anonymous forums.
The long-anticipated layoffs add a chill to Twitter’s renowned open corporate culture that many of its employees have come to love.
“If you are in the office or on your way to the office, please go home,” Twitter said in an email Thursday.
Shortly after the email arrived in employees’ inboxes, hundreds of people flooded the company’s Slack channels to say goodbye, two employees told Reuters.
Sources said someone invited Musk to join the channel.