Twitter laid off thousands in its departments Friday in a drastic round of cost-cutting that could change how one of the most influential platforms in the world operates, just one week after being acquired by billionaire Elon Musk.
Many Twitter employees posted on Twitter Thursday night and Friday morning. They had been informed that their company email accounts were already locked before the scheduled layoff notification. Others also shared blue hearts or salute emojis to indicate that they were not at work.
Twitter employees in departments such as ethical AI, marketing, communication, search and public policy, wellness, and other areas had posted about being fired by Friday morning. Employee posts also revealed that members of the curation team were laid off. They help to elevate reliable information on Twitter, including about elections.
One Twitter employee stated that he had been remotely logged off his work laptop and was now removed from Slack. “It was so sad that it had to end in this manner.”
Another employee stated that she had been fired along with other members of Twitter’s human rights team. Another employee said that she was proud of the team’s efforts to “protect those at-risk in global crises & conflicts including Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Ukraine” and to protect the rights of those who are particularly at risk due to their social media presence (journalists & human rights advocates).
Simon Balmain was a former Twitter senior community manager who was laid off Friday. He stated in an interview that he lost his access to Slack and email around 8 hours before he received an email officially notifying him of his firing. The layoff email “still did not provide any details real” about why he was fired, he said.
Balmain stated that the extreme solidarity he’s seen from people in the company, people in the same situation, and people who have left the company over the years has helped to mitigate the frustration and annoyance. It’s almost like a huge support network, which is incredible.
A Twitter worker who was laid off claimed that some workers were relieved to be let go. The employee stated that being safe would have been punishment for him.
While employees on Twitter were complaining about being fired, Musk appeared at an investor conference to speak about his plans to make electric cars cheaper and his desire to visit Mars. Musk stated that he tried to exit Twitter’s deal but added that he believes there was a lot of potentials and it could become one of the most important companies in the world.
Musk said that he had fired “half” of Twitter’s employees, and Musk nodded. However, he didn’t comment on this statement.
Yoel Roth (head of Twitter’s trust-and-safety team) confirmed that the overall headcount had been reduced by approximately 50% in a series of tweets on Friday evening. According to Roth, the layoffs resulted in a 15% reduction in trust and safety staff, but no changes to content moderation.
Musk seemed to describe the massive layoffs in his interview as necessary for a company that was, like other social media companies, experiencing “revenue difficulties” before he acquired it. This is because advertisers are rethinking spending due to recession fears.
Musk stated that “a lot of major advertisers have stopped paying on Twitter” since the acquisition was completed.
Twitter employed approximately 7,500 people before Musk took over, which means that roughly 3,700 employees were fired. These cuts are part of Musk’s efforts to improve the bottom line after he took out substantial debt financing to finance his $44 billion acquisition.
Employees were notified via email Thursday night that they would be receiving a notice at noon ET Friday informing employees about their employment status.
“If your employment is unaffected, you will be notified via your Twitter account,” the email said. You will be notified via your email if your employment is affected.
In the email, it stated that to “ensure the safety” of employees as well as Twitter’s systems, the company’s offices would be “temporarily closed” and that all badge access would be suspended.
The email ended by acknowledging that the experience would be “incredibly difficult” for the workforce.
Twitter employees filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday night alleging that Twitter violated the federal and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Acts (WARN Acts) after they laid off some employees.
Employers with more than 100 employees must give 60 days’ notice before a mass layoff that “affects 50 or more employees at one site.”
“Elon Musk has made it clear that he thinks complying with federal labor law is trivial,” Attorney Shannon Liss -Riordan said in a statement. “We filed this federal complaint to hold Twitter accountable for its laws and prevent employees from unknowingly giving up their rights,” Liss-Riordan said.
Twitter filed WARN notices Friday for almost 1,000 employees in California.
Separately, labor lawyers stated Friday that they had received inquiries from Twitter employees asking whether terminations were unlawfully discriminatory or retaliatory.
Chautauqua Young, a partner in the law firm Outten & Golden, stated that former Twitter employees reached out to them regarding their layoffs.
Musk’s handling of the layoffs could lead to lawsuits. However, legal experts warn that Musk’s actions may cause more problems down the line. This could be in the future for attracting talent or keeping workers happy.
Terri Gerstein, a Harvard Law School fellow, said, “Once people treat people like that, they remember it.” “Of those remaining, it’s a certainty that they don’t feel secure at their jobs, and I would be surprised if they weren’t updating their resumes or discussing the possibility of starting a union.
According to two sources, Musk fired Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, and two other executives to start his tenure there.
In less than one week after Musk bought the company, its C-suite seems to have nearly been cleared out through a mixture of resignations and firings. Musk also disbanded Twitter’s old board of directors.
Staffers shared their feelings on Friday with the #LoveWhereYouWorked hashtag. This is a past-tense variation of a popular one that was used frequently by Twitter employees.