Elon Musk begins mass layoffs on Twitter

San Francisco-based Twitter began the first round of mass layoffs of its employees on Friday under the orders of billionaire owner Elon Musk, who took over the company a week ago.

Elon Musk in May 2020. [Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls]

Some Twitter employees received an email from the company on Thursday night saying they were fired and others found out when they lost access to online systems or were barred from entering at company facilities on Friday.

Although Twitter’s new management did not disclose details of the job cuts, internal documents reviewed by Reuters earlier in the week indicated that Musk planned to cut 3,700 of the 7,500 global workforce.

The New York Times reported on Friday that “four people with knowledge of the matter,” confirmed that half of Twitter’s workforce had been terminated, adding, “It’s rare that such sweeping layoffs have been made by one person at a tech company.”

Tweets from former employees on Friday showed that Friday’s layoffs affected staff in engineering, marketing, communications, product development, content curation and ethics machine learning.

Shannon Raj Singh, a lawyer who ran Twitter’s human rights department, tweeted: “Yesterday was my last day on Twitter: the entire human rights team was removed from the company.

Senior community manager Simon Balmain tweeted: “Looks like I’m all out of work. I just remotely signed out of my work laptop and deleted it from Slack. In Balmain’s case, he lost access to email and other systems eight hours before he was told he was officially fired, and he told CNN the message he received “didn’t still provided no details” about why he was fired.

Several news outlets reported that the email sent to Twitter staff was concise and said different things depending on geographic location. Reuters quoted a section of one of the posts that read, “In an effort to put Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday.”

Musk’s claims that his motivation for owning Twitter was “to try to help humanity” were quickly overtaken by a financial crisis resulting from a sudden drop in ad revenue. Major advertisers, including General Motors, suspended spending with Twitter last week over content moderation issues.

Interpublic Group (IPG) – which is responsible for $40 billion in international marketing for brands including American Express, Walmart, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Mattel – followed GM’s announcement with a pause. in ad spend until they have confidence and clarity on the direction of the platform. Other major brands that have stopped advertising include Ford, Audi, General Mills, Pfizer and Volkswagen.

The reality is that the layoffs at Twitter, accelerated by Musk’s takeover, are part of the job massacre taking place at Silicon Valley tech companies. Amid escalating attacks on jobs and wages for the entire working class – and with declining financial performance and plummeting stock values ​​on Wall Street – companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, Microsoft and others have announced either a hiring freeze or layoff of their employees.

Responding to the advertiser exodus, Musk tweeted on Friday morning, “Twitter has seen a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, though nothing has changed with content moderation. and that we did everything we could to appease the activists.”

He continued, “Extremely messed up! They are trying to destroy free speech in America. Speaking at an investor conference in New York on Friday, Musk reiterated his claim that the push from activists was “an attack on the First Amendment.”

The reality is that the private takeover of the microblogging platform – which has become a vital tool used by millions for instant global announcements, news and information – by a billionaire oligarch is the greatest threat to the democracy.

An example of the social and political outlook of Musk and the billionaire elite was demonstrated in his exchange with New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter Tuesday and Wednesday.

Commenting on a plan announced by Musk to charge users $8 per month to continue using the “verified” account feature, the congresswoman tweeted: “Lmao at a billionaire seriously trying to sell people the idea that the” freedom of speech” is actually an $8/mb subscription plan.

Responding to the comment with a combination of conceit and intimidation, Musk tweeted, “Your feedback is appreciated pay $8 now.” This response speaks volumes about Musk’s commitment to democratic rights and his proclaimed desire to make Twitter a “common digital public square.” In response to a legitimate question about the future of speech on Twitter, Musk basically told Ocasio-Cortez — an elected member of the United States House of Representatives who has repeatedly faced death threats from the part of far-right and fascist individuals – to “shut up and pay”. me.”

Musk’s first week of owning the social media platform with nearly 400 million monthly active users was, by any measure, a widespread and deep crisis. He used his claim of “free speech absolutism” as a front to welcome far-right and fascist individuals – such as offering to restore Donald Trump’s account – on Twitter to spread racism, xenophobia, white supremacy and anti-Semitism on the platform.

The mass character of Twitter, as well as social media in general as a 21st century technological phenomenon, is incompatible with the ownership of a single billionaire oligarch. The crisis unfolding on Twitter is part of the worsening economic, social and political crisis of the global capitalist system.