A week after it was bought by Elon Musk, Twitter has vowed to lay off half its workforce, while launching big projects and battling users, advertisers and associations worried about the influencer social network’s transformation.
“About 50% of employees will be affected” by the ongoing layoffs on Twitter, according to a document sent to the social network’s thanked employees on Friday and consulted by AFP.
The California company, which had nearly 7,500 employees at the end of October, notified thousands of people via email and announced the temporary closure of its offices.
“As announced earlier today, Twitter is reducing its workforce to help improve the health of the business. These decisions are never easy, and it is with regret that we are writing to let you know the impact of your Twitter post. Today is your last working day (…) ” , points to one of these emails, consulted by AFP.
On Thursday evening, Twitter wrote to all of its employees to warn them of upcoming layoffs, telling them that offices would be “temporarily closed” and “access suspended,” in order to “ensure the safety of every employee as well as the safety of Twitter’s systems and data.”
As of last Thursday, when Elon Musk took control of the company, he dissolved the board of directors, fired executives, took over as CEO, and took the company off the stock exchange.
Shortly after the layoffs were announced, Twitter employees took to the social network to announce their job cuts, sometimes using the hashtags #LoveWhereYouWork and #OneTeam.).
“All my thoughts, respect, energy and love for Moroccans (a nickname for Twitter employees, editor’s note) around the world today. Together we have built the most amazing app on the planet,” wrote Damien Veil, general manager of Twitter France, on Friday.
Overnight Thursday, five recently dismissed Twitter employees filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for not receiving the 60-day deadline required by US law to lay off workers.
Executives and the marketing and design departments appear to have been particularly affected, according to an employee who wished to remain anonymous.
Elon Musk, who first rebranded himself as “Chief Twit” (“twit” meaning “cretin” in English), and then “Twitter Hotline Operator”), brought in Tesla developers on Friday to conduct reviews of the work of Twitter employees.
He also launched an overhaul of several products, including a paid subscription and account validation system, and imposed a steady pace. Many engineers sleep in the office some nights.
So the change in company culture has been confirmed — several CEOs quit on their own this week and more than 700 people have already left this summer, of their own volition, according to one employee.
“We are witnessing the real-time destruction of one of the most powerful communications systems in the world. Elon Musk is an unpredictable and inconsistent billionaire, he is a danger to this platform and he is not qualified to lead it,” replied Nicole Gill, co-founder of Accountable Tech, an NGO The government called on advertisers to put pressure on the new head.
Because the libertarian entrepreneur advocates a vision of free speech that requires a relaxation of the rules of moderation for platform content, he risks, according to his critics, opening the door to a resurgence of abuse (harassment, hate speech, misinformation, etc.).
Several groups have already decided to suspend ad spending on Twitter, including US agribusiness giant General Mills, US automaker General Motors and German rival Volkswagen.
On Friday, Musk blamed Twitter’s slump in revenue on “a group of activists who put pressure on advertisers even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we’ve done everything to please the activists.”
“It’s complete rubbish! They are trying to destroy freedom of speech in America,” the 50-year-old added.
“Evil thinker. Music scholar. Hipster-friendly communicator. Bacon geek. Amateur internet enthusiast. Introvert.”