Twitter on Friday laid off employees across the company’s departments, as part of a severe cost-cutting that could potentially upend the operation of one of the world’s most influential platforms a week after it was acquired by the billionaire Elon Musk.
Many Twitter employees began posting on the platform Thursday night and Friday morning that they had already been locked out of their company email accounts ahead of the expected layoff notification. Some also shared blue hearts and hi emojis indicating they were in the business.
As of Friday morning, Twitter employees in departments including ethical AI, marketing and communications, research, public policy, wellness and other teams tweeted that they had been terminated. Members of the curation team, who help deliver reliable information on the platform, including elections, have also been fired, according to posts from employees.
“I just remotely logged out of my work laptop and deleted it from Slack,” a Twitter employee posted on the platform. “So sad it had to end this way.”
Another employee said she and other members of Twitter’s human rights team had been fired. The employee added that she is proud of the team’s work “to protect those at risk in global conflicts and crises, including in Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Ukraine, and to advocate for the needs of those at particular risk. to human rights violations because of their social background, the presence of the media, such as journalists and human rights defenders.”
Simon Balmain, a former senior Twitter community manager who was fired on Friday, said in a CNN interview that he lost access to Slack, email and other internal systems about 8 hours before to receive an e-mail on Friday morning officially informing him that he had been fired. He added that the dismissal email “still did not provide any details” about why he was terminated.
“The waves of annoyance and frustration and all that are absolutely mitigated by the extreme solidarity that we’ve seen from people who are in the business, people who are in the same position, people who have left company years ago,” Balmain said. said. “It’s like a giant support network, which has been absolutely amazing.”
A Twitter employee who was laid off told CNN on Friday that some workers were relieved to be fired. “For me, being safe would have been a punishment,” the employee said.
As Twitter employees posted about their layoffs, Musk appeared for a friendly interview at an investor conference on Friday and talked about making cheaper electric vehicles and his ambitions to go to Mars. During the interview, Musk said of Twitter, “I tried to back out of the deal,” but then added, “I think there’s huge potential…and I think it could be one of the most valuable companies in the world.”
The interviewer said Musk fired “half of Twitter” and Musk nodded, though he didn’t comment on the remark. He appeared to view the layoffs as necessary for a company which, like other social media companies, was experiencing “revenue challenges” before its acquisition as advertisers rethink spending amid recession fears.
Musk also said “a number of major advertisers stopped spending on Twitter” in the days after the acquisition was completed.
It’s unclear exactly how many Twitter employees have been or will be laid off. Twitter had about 7,500 employees before Musk’s takeover. In recent days, there have been reports that Twitter could cut 25% to 50% of its staff as Musk rethinks how the platform works and tries to improve the company’s results after taking on a major debt financing. to fund its $44 billion acquisition.
The email sent Thursday evening informed employees that they would receive a notice by 12 p.m. ET on Friday advising them of their employment status.
“If your job is not affected, you will receive a notification via your Twitter email,” said a copy of the email obtained by CNN. “If your job is impacted, you will receive a notification with next steps via your personal email.”
The email added that “to help ensure the safety” of Twitter’s employees and systems, the company’s offices “will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended.”
The email concluded by acknowledging that it will be “an incredibly difficult experience” for the workforce.
Several Twitter employees filed a class action lawsuit late Thursday alleging that Twitter violated federal and California worker adjustment and retraining law (WARN Act) after previously firing some employees.
The WARN Act requires an employer with more than 100 employees to provide 60 days written notice before a mass termination “affecting 50 or more employees at a single job site”.
“Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has made it clear that he thinks complying with federal labor laws is ‘meaningless,'” attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who filed the lawsuit, said. in a statement to CNN. “We filed this federal lawsuit to ensure Twitter is held accountable under our laws and to prevent Twitter employees from unknowingly waiving their rights.”
The California Department of Employment Development confirmed to CNN that no WARN notices were filed by Twitter as of Friday noon.
Separately, other labor attorneys told CNN on Friday that they began receiving inquiries from Twitter employees questioning whether their firings may have been unlawfully discriminatory or retaliatory.
“Former Twitter employees contacted us about their layoffs and their situation, and so we are looking into all issues – beyond giving proper notice – and to make sure the employee has not been terminated. due to being in a protected class,” said Chauniqua Young, a partner at law firm Outten & Golden.
Beyond the potential for lawsuits stemming from the layoffs, other legal experts say Musk’s handling of the cuts could well create other problems for him in the future, whether in terms of attracting future talent or satisfaction of the remaining workers.
“Once you treat people like that, they remember it,” said Terri Gerstein, a fellow in the Labor and Work Life program at Harvard Law School and the Institute for Economic Policy. “Of the remaining people, certainly none of them feel secure in their jobs, and I would be shocked if the remaining people didn’t update their resumes right now or talk to each other about the creation of a trade union.
Musk began his tenure at Twitter by firing CEO Parag Agrawal and two other executives, according to two people familiar with the decision.
And in less than a week since Musk acquired the company, its C-suite appears to have been almost entirely wiped out, through a mix of layoffs and resignations. Musk also disbanded Twitter’s former board.
On Friday, many staff members summed up their feelings with a hashtag, #LoveWhereYouWorked, a past tense play on another often used by Twitter employees.
– Brian Fung and Shawn Nottingham contributed to this report