Twitter employees lay off begins after Musk takeover

PHOTO: Elon Musk has begun his trimming of Twitter with thousands of employees expected to be laid off. (via Brain Station)

Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover has been swift and rattling after months of trying to back out of the deal. It is rumoured that Musk plans to lay off 75% of Twitter’s 7,500 employees. And the axe started swinging on Friday. Stay-home orders were given to thousands of employees at Twitter which may signal they’re being laid off.

Some new sources are now reporting that at least half of all Twitter employees will be let go in these layoffs. It is suspected that the majority will be from the San Francisco, California home base. Some people have already received their layoff notice, with now ex-employees tweeting about their job loss and how they lost all access to their work emails and servers.

Employees are posting their goodbyes on Twitter, but not all are taking it well. Five employees have already filed a class action lawsuit. They say the US Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires that employees in the US be given a 60-day notice before mass layoffs.

With the huge round of layoffs, Musk and his team took safety precautions to find the best way to give massive numbers of workers the boot simultaneously. In a memo, the company said that it needed to protect Twitter systems and customer data, as well as the safety of all employees. So they closed their offices and suspended all badge access for employees.

They promised to notify workers on Friday morning, 9am in the Pacific Standard time zone. Employees waited to receive an email from Twitter telling them about their future. If they received a notice to their work email address, they would be keeping their job. But if they were losing their job, a letter would arrive in their email address inbox.

Musk is in a precarious position now. He sunk US$44 billion into the acquisition, including selling shares worth US$15.5 billion of his Tesla electric car company and taking on substantial loans. Now he’s on a rampage, finding ways to cut costs and ramp up income for Twitter, including firing a lot of employees.

Musk’s plan to increase revenue by charging a monthly fee for accounts to be verified and privileged has already met with strong backlash. In an argument via tweet, Stephen King seemed to bargain Musk down to US$8 from the US$20 original monthly pricing for these verified accounts. Musk also cut costs by firing most of the senior management of Twitter.

His erratic behaviour, including plans to revamp content moderation many fear will increase hate speech and misinformation, sharing far-right conspiracy theories, and tweets arguing with celebrities over pricing, have scared off many advertisers. L’Oreal and General Motors have reportedly already considered pulling the plug on their advertising on Twitter. Ad revenue accounts for about 90% of Twitter’s income currently. Musk complained in a tweet.

“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists. Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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