Twitter lays off staff as Musk blames activists for ‘massive’ ad revenue drop

  • Musk is looking for more than half of Twitter’s employees
  • employees filed class action against twitter
  • Employees lose access to the system
  • Volkswagen pulls up ad

Nov 4 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc launched a massive round of layoffs on Friday, threatening employees about their job status by email after barring entry to offices and cutting workers’ access to internal systems overnight. I was alerted.

The move follows a week of chaos and uncertainty about the company’s future under the new boss of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, who tweeted on Friday that the service was experiencing a “huge drop in revenue”. It was because advertisers pulled spending.

Musk blamed the loss on a coalition of civil rights groups that are pressuring Twitter’s top advertisers to act if they don’t protect content moderation. The groups said Friday they are stepping up their pressure and demanding that brands pull their Twitter ads globally.

“In an effort to get Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” Twitter said in an email to employees Thursday evening. Reuters.

The company was silent about the depth of the cuts, although internal plans reviewed by Reuters this week indicated that Musk was looking to cut about 3,700 Twitter employees, or about half the workforce.

According to tweets from Twitter staff, employees working in engineering, communications, product, content curation and machine learning ethics were affected by the layoffs.

Shannon Raj Singh, a lawyer who served as Twitter’s acting head of human rights, tweeted on Friday that the company’s entire human rights team has been cut.

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Musk has promised to restore free speech, preventing Twitter from descending into a “hellscape.” However, his assurances have failed to placate major advertisers, who have expressed apprehensions about their acquisition for months.

Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) recommended its brands to pause paid advertising on Twitter until further notice in the wake of the Musk acquisition, it said on Friday. Its comments echoed similar comments from other companies, including General Motors Company (GM.N) and General Mills Inc. (GIS.N).

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, which is part of the Civil Rights Coalition, said he was aware of two more major advertisers preparing to announce they would be blocking ads on the platform.

Musk tweeted that his team had not changed content moderation and did “everything we do” to appease the groups. “Extremely messed up! They (civil rights groups) are trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Speaking at an investor conference in New York on Friday, Musk called activist pressure an “attack on the First Amendment.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

cut off access to the system

Dozens of employees tweeted that they lost access to work email and Slack channels before receiving official notice, which they took as a sign they had been laid off.

They expressed support for each other using the hashtags #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked, tweeting out blue hearts and salute emoji, a past-time version of a slogan employees used to celebrate the company’s work culture over the years. was used.

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Employees said on stage, Twitter’s curation team, which is responsible for “highlighting and referencing the best events and stories that ever surfaced on Twitter,” had been fired. According to a Twitter executive in Asia, the company’s communications team in India has also been laid off.

According to a tweet from a former senior manager at Twitter, a team that focused research on how Twitter employed algorithms, an issue that was a priority for Musk, was also eliminated.

Senior executives, including Vice President of Engineering Arnaud Weber, also said their goodbyes on Twitter on Friday: “Twitter still has a lot of unlocked potential but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved,” he tweeted.

Employees of Musk’s premium subscription service Twitter Blue were also let go. An employee with the handle “sillyrobin,” which indicated they had been fired, tweeted that Twitter Blue would include “paywall bypass” for some publishers, quoting Musk’s previous tweet.

“Just to be clear, he fired the team working on this,” the employee said.

Twitter’s Head of Safety and Integrity, Joel Roth, retained his job, as did Vice President of Product Keith Coleman, who launched a tool called Birdwatch for users to write notes on tweets they deem as misleading. recognize in.

Last week, Musk backed Roth, citing his “high integrity” after Roth was called out on tweets critical of former US President Donald Trump years earlier. Musk also tweeted that he liked Birdwatch.

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Roth and Coleman did not respond to requests for comment.

doors closed

Twitter said in its email to employees that “offices will be temporarily closed and badge access will be suspended to help ensure the safety of each employee as well as the Twitter system and customer data.”

Offices in London and Dublin were deserted on Friday, with no employees in sight. In the London office, any evidence Twitter had once taken over the building was wiped out.

A receptionist at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters said some people had been tricked and were working on floors above despite a stay-away notice.

A class action was filed Thursday against Twitter by its employees, who argued that the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing the required 60-day advance notice, in violation of federal and California law.

The lawsuit also asked a federal court in San Francisco to issue an order prohibiting Twitter employees from being shut down for signing documents without notifying them of the pending case.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Katie Paul in Palo Alto, Calif., and Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif. Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin, Rushrati Mukherjee, Aditya Kalra, Martin Coulter, Hyunju Jin, Supanth Mukherjee and Ariana Macklemore Writing by Matt Scuffham Editing by Kenneth Lee, Jason Neely and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. The San Francisco Bay Area-based tech reporter, who covered the news, joined Reuters in 2017 after four years in the Los Angeles Times focused on the local tech industry.

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