by John Hugh DeMastri
Twitter began laying staff off Friday, with up to half its workforce expected to be fired in a cost-cutting move by new owner and CEO Elon Musk.
The move comes eight days after Musk’s $44 billion deal to purchase the company, and after more than a week of conflicting reports about the extent and timing of layoffs that employees considered to be inevitable, Reuters reported. In addition to layoffs, Musk is having remaining Twitter staff work on a “Deep Cuts Plan,” designed to save $1 billion per year in infrastructure costs including server space and cloud computing services, Reuters reported.
While the cuts are expected to hit across the company, content moderation is expected to be impacted, Reuters reported. Other affected teams would include marketing, product, engineering and legal, The Washington Post reported.
The cuts are part of Musk’s efforts to reduce costs and increase revenue, which have included efforts to convince advertisers that the company would not become a “free-for-all hellscape” following upcoming changes to the app’s content moderation policies. Despite these assurances, several major advertisers, including General Motors, Pfizer and General Mills have suspended their advertisements on the platform.
“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Musk tweeted Friday morning. “Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
JUST IN: Elon Musk bars Twitter employees from the company's offices in the run up to layoffs, unless staff are working on one of his 'critical' projects, per BI.
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) November 4, 2022
A New York-based employee was told that they could anticipate information regarding severance “within a week” following an email that informed them they would be let go in February, according to The New York Times. One of Musk’s first moves at the company was to fire several top executives and deny them severance, according to business and technology news outlet The Information.
Some layoff notices went out early Friday, seemingly varying by region or country, the NYT reported. Previously, Twitter staff were told they would receive an email by 12 p.m. Pacific time informing them of their employment status, The Washington Post reported.
Musk has also announced that the company intends to rework verification on the platform, commonly known as a “blue check,” and make it part of an $8 per month subscription known as Twitter Blue. Musk touted the plan as a way to generate revenue that could be used to pay content creators, and as a method to combat spam.
He also announced that there would be a “secondary tag” in addition to verification for public figures, as is currently the case for political figures, although it was not immediately clear who would qualify.
Twitter was sued by employees in a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company failed to provide sufficient notice of the layoffs, in violation of both federal and California state laws, according to Bloomberg. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, a federal law, requires a 60 day notice before mass layoffs can begin at sufficiently large companies.
– – –
John Hugh DeMastri is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Elon Musk” by Steve Jurvetson. CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Twitter Headquarters” by Ken Lund. CC BY-SA 2.0.