One week after the acquisition by Elon Musk for 100 billions of dollars (R$
billion), the social network Twitter laid off half of its employees — around 3.750 people. The move is necessary, according to Musk, as the company was bleeding four million dollars a day. All received an email on Friday (4) informing them of their continuation or termination. Those who were terminated were informed that it was their last day of work, but that they would continue to be paid until January of 2023.
On the same day , Elon Musk was at an event on the island of Manhattan, in New York, organized by billionaire Ron Baron. Talking to Baron, he said there were “a lot of people who are not very productive. They work from home. Didn’t write much code ”.
Reports of the fired circulated through the social network itself this Saturday. “I woke up to the news that my time working on Twitter was up. I’m heartbroken. I’m in denial,” said Canadian Michele Austin. About 150 were laid off in Brazil, according to Valor Econômico. “Around midnight, the accesses were cut off without saying anything and about 4 hours 15 I received confirmation of the disconnection”, he told the newspaper O Globo. an anonymous Brazilian who worked in the advertising area of Twitter.
The Associated Press informs that at least one fired person filed a lawsuit lawsuit against Twitter for alleged violation of federal laws dealing with notice. The layoffs “will hamper our ability to provide support for the midterm elections” taking place in the United States this month, said one of those affected who spoke to the news agency anonymously. US President Joe Biden expressed the same concern. But Yoel Roth, the site’s head of security, says the content moderation sector was one of the least affected, losing 15% of its staff.
In Brazil, the social network has responded to requests for censorship from the TSE, including against a tweet by Gazeta do Povo last month about Lula’s relationship with Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega. Profiles of Bolsonaro supporters who question the outcome of the elections, such as that of deputy Nikolas Ferreira, were suspended in Brazil. Some Brazilian verified accounts (with a blue seal) lamented the loss of an alleged privileged access to Twitter to unban contacts or recommend new verification seals.
According to those fired, entire teams were sent away. , including a software engineering group that looked after accessibility for users with disabilities. According to Bloomberg, retained employees were judged on their contribution to the Twitter code, that is, according to their programming work.
Jack Dorsey, former chief executive and founder Twitter user, apologized on the social network for letting the company “grow too fast”, which contributed to the number of layoffs. “I understand that many are angry with me,” he commented. However, his public interactions with Musk were friendly during the acquisition process.
Angry progressives put pressure on advertisers
Advertisers such as Volkswagen have reported an interruption in advertising spend on the network. The car manufacturer extends the decision to all its subsidiaries, such as Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Scania. The US-based South African billionaire blames progressive activists for putting pressure on advertisers. Indeed, pressure on advertisers has been a common political tactic of these groups, always against right-wing or conservative targets. It is important to remember, however, that Volkswagen is a competitor of another Elon Musk company, Tesla, which makes electric cars — which may also have influenced the decision.
Twitter is introducing a monthly plan of US$8 (R$40,35 — but the price in Brazil may be different) for users who want to have verification stamps, among other benefits. The plan is a modification of “Twitter Blue”, a signature that already existed on the social network. Initially, Musk proposed US$20 monthly (R$2017 ,8), which angered celebrities such as writer Stephen King.
The decision to reduce staff came days before the US midterm elections United. Democratic leaders have expressed concern about the social network’s ability to contain disinformation in the final days of the campaign. Previously, the head of legal affairs Vijaya Gadde, who was primarily responsible for the banning of former US President Donald Trump from Twitter before the events of the Capitol invasion after his electoral defeat on January 6, was fired 2021.
For members of the Republican Party, the social network’s change of direction under Musk is good news, as he promises freedom of speech under legal limits, no limits that they consider to be derived from progressive ideology. The account of a satirical news website, “Babylon Bee”, was banned for making a joke in which it called a transgender person in the Biden administration, for example.
The process of The acquisition of the social network was slow, taking half a year of negotiations, withdrawals and retakes. Musk is not exactly an enemy of progressives. A historic donor to Democrat campaigns, he spared Yoel Roth the firing, who has angered many conservatives with politically oriented tweets over the years. In January 2017, Roth called the Donald Trump administration “real Nazis in the White House”. The year before, after Trump’s victory, he said “we fly over those states that voted for a racist tangerine for good reason.”
Pressed by followers, Elon Musk said he trusts in Yoel Roth and that everyone has tweets they regret, “me more than most”. His loyalty to the employee may be rooted in internal documents that show Roth telling the now-fired top management that Musk was right that they were manipulating statistics on the number of robot accounts, an accusation the billionaire made as he tried to back out of the purchase. “My feeling is that he has a lot of integrity,” Musk commented, “and we are all entitled to our political beliefs.”