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Wave of layoffs on Twitter: "I don't want to admit it"

Wave of layoffs on Twitter: “I don’t want to admit it”

Status: 05.11.2022 09:36 a.m.

For the first time, confirmation came directly from the Twitter team: about half of all employees have been laid off. The acquisition by Musk already has financial consequences for the group. The big advertisers are walking away.

About a week after Elon Musk took over the short-messaging service Twitter, about half the workforce was out of a job. The nature of the layoffs is not only causing discontent among those affected – and the first possible legal consequences for the Internet company are already being indicated.

A tweet from the ranks of the remaining “Tweeps,” as the employees call themselves, confirmed for the first time the extent of the mass layoffs: Yoel Roth, head of Twitter’s security and integrity department, wrote that in his department 15 per percent of the employees had been laid off. About 50 percent of all colleagues are company-wide.

The media had unanimously speculated on this number: around 3,700 positions eliminated out of a total of around 7,500.

“Today is your last day at the company”

Whether they lose their job or keep it, Twitter employees have found out via email how ARD correspondent Nils Dampz informed. Emails were sent to the entire workforce on Friday: anyone who received them on their work Twitter account can stay. If Twitter had sent the email to the private address, that meant termination. “Today is your last day at the company,” he is reported to have said in recent emails.

The layoffs are said to have occurred in all departments, says Kurt Wagner of the Bloomberg agency: from technology to product development, even the press team has been radically reduced. So Twitter PR should now be handled by two people out of the 80 to 100 employees who were previously responsible for it.

Thousands express disappointment and shock

Under the hashtag #twitterlayoffs, translated as “Twitter layoffs,” thousands are posting their discontent, including fired Twitter manager Michele Austin. “I woke up to the news that my time on Twitter had come to an end. It breaks my heart. I don’t want to believe it,” she wrote.

Pregnant employee Rachel Bonn was also fired. She wrote on Twitter that just hours after Musk announced job cuts, access to his work laptop had been disabled.

Fired Employees File Class Action Lawsuit

A group of five previously laid off employees immediately filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter. They accuse the company of not giving them 60 days notice of the dismissal, as required by law. This violates both California state law and United States federal law.

Twitter’s new owner, Musk, has so far barely commented on the mass layoffs following the acquisition. Also on Twitter, he only announced that all affected employees had been offered a three-month severance package.

The big advertisers are leaving

Rather, Musk is worried about a widening drop in Twitter’s revenue. The short message service gets this mainly from advertisements. According to the news agency dpa, more than 90 percent of all the group’s income would have been generated through advertising.

But several major advertisers announced after Musk took office that they would no longer advertise on Twitter. Underlying the advertising freeze is fears that Musk could drastically scale back the platform’s efforts to combat the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

US automaker General Motors had already stopped advertising on Twitter last week. More recently, other corporations followed, including food giant General Mills and automaker Volkswagen. Volkswagen said the group had recommended brands including Audi and Skoda to stop their activities on Twitter for the time being.

United Airlines has now also announced that it will no longer advertise on Twitter. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer and food company Mondelez also want to end their cooperation with Twitter, the Wall Street Journal and the dpa news agency reported unanimously.

According to Musk, Twitter loses millions a day

Musk needs the advertisers. The head of the electric car manufacturer Tesla and the space company SpaceX paid 44 billion dollars, the equivalent of about 44 billion euros, for Twitter and, according to the media, would have taken loans that must now be paid.

But Twitter has been struggling with economic problems for a long time. Among other things, the short message service had made losses in the first two quarters of the year. The group is now said to be losing $4 million a day, as Musk himself wrote on Twitter. Which left him no choice in the face of extensive layoffs.

Musk criticizes the attack on freedom of expression

Musk believes that “activists”, whom he has not described in detail, are also responsible for rejecting advertisers. In fact, under the hashtag #StopToxicTwitterCoalition, more than 60 civil society organizations called for a boycott of Twitter advertising. Critical moderation of Twitter content is no longer possible due to the wave of layoffs, according to a statement from the alliance. Hate speech is a serious problem, especially in light of the upcoming US Congressional elections.

Musk had already tried to reassure advertisers in an open letter last week that Twitter would not be a place where users could afford anything without consequences. Musk accuses the activists of attacking “the First Amendment” with the pressure they exert, which would mean an attack on the right to freedom of expression.