Twitter on Friday laid off employees in departments across the company, in a sharp round of cost-cutting that could upend the way one of the world’s most influential platforms operates one week after it was acquired by billionaire Elon Musk.
Several Twitter employees began posting on the platform Thursday night and Friday morning that they had already been banned from their company’s email accounts prior to the planned layoff notice. Some also shared blue hearts and a greeting emoji indicating they were out of company.
By Friday morning, Twitter employees from departments including ethical AI, marketing, communications, research, public policy, wellness and other teams had tweeted about being abandoned. Members of the organizing team, which helps raise the level of reliable information on the platform, including about elections, have also been laid off, according to staff posts.
“You have just been logged out of my remote work laptop and removed from Slack,” a Twitter employee said on the platform. “It’s very sad that it ended this way.”
Another employee said she and other members of Twitter’s human rights team have been laid off. The employee added that she was proud of the team’s work “to protect those at risk in global conflicts and crises including Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Ukraine, and to advocate for the needs of those who are particularly at risk of human rights abuse by virtue of their social relations and media presence, such as journalists and human rights defenders.”
Simon Balmain, a former Twitter community manager who was fired on Friday, said in an interview with CNN that he lost access to Slack, email and other internal systems about 8 hours before receiving an email Friday morning formally notifying him that he had been fired. He added that the discharged email “didn’t really provide any details” about why he had left.
“The waves of annoyance and frustration and all of these things are completely mitigated by the extreme solidarity that we’ve seen from people who are in the company, people who are in the same situation, and people who have left the company in past years,” Balmain said. “It’s like a giant support network, which was absolutely amazing.”
One Twitter employee who was laid off told CNN Friday that some workers are comfortable being laid off. “For me, feeling safe was a punishment,” the employee said.
While Twitter employees were posting about their layoffs, Musk appeared Friday for a friendly interview at an investor conference and talked about making cheaper electric cars and his ambitions to go to Mars. During the interview, Musk said of Twitter, “I tried to walk out of the deal,” but then added, “I think there’s a huge amount of potential… and I think it could be one of the most valuable companies in the world.”
The interviewer said Musk had laid off “half of Twitter” and Musk nodded, though he did not comment on the comment. He appeared to frame the layoffs as necessary for a company that, like other social media companies, was facing “revenue challenges” before the acquisition as advertisers rethink spending amid recession fears.
Musk also said that “a number of major advertisers stopped spending on Twitter” in the days after the acquisition was completed.
It’s not clear exactly how many Twitter employees have been or will be laid off. Twitter had about 7,500 workers before the Musk takeover. In recent days, there have been reports that Twitter may cut 25% to 50% of its staff as Musk rethinks how the platform works and tries to improve the company’s bottom line after securing significant debt financing to fund its $44 billion acquisition.
The email sent Thursday evening notified employees that they would receive a notification by 12 p.m. ET on Friday informing them of their employment status.
“If your business 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 affected, you will receive a notification of next steps via your personal email.”
The email added that to “help ensure the safety” of employees and Twitter’s systems, the company’s offices will be temporarily closed and access to all badges will be suspended. ”
The email concluded by acknowledging that it will be an “incredibly challenging experience” for the workforce.
Several Twitter employees filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday night alleging that Twitter is violating the Federal Notice Act and the California Workers’ Amendment and Retraining Act (WARN Act) after some employees have already been laid off.
WARN requires an employer with more than 100 employees to provide 60 days’ advance written notice before a mass layoff “affecting 50 or more employees at a single workplace.”
“Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has made it clear that he believes compliance with federal labor laws is ‘frivolous,'” attorney Shannon Lees Riordan, who filed the suit, said in a statement to CNN. Twitter employees from inadvertently signing a waiver of their rights.”
The California Department of Employment Development confirmed to CNN that no WARN notices had been served by Twitter as of midday Friday.
Separately, other attorneys told CNN on Friday that they had begun receiving inquiries from Twitter employees questioning whether their termination was discriminatory or unlawfully retaliatory.
“Former Twitter employees have reached out to us about their layoffs and their conditions, so we are looking into all issues — after proper notice — and to ensure that the employee is not laid off because of their membership in a protected class,” said Chunykwa Young, partner at law firm Outten & Golden.
In addition to the potential for lawsuits over layoffs, other legal experts say that Musk’s handling of the cuts may create other problems for him in the future — both in terms of attracting future talent and in keeping the remaining workers satisfied.
“Once you treat people this way, they remember it,” said Terry Gerstein, a fellow in the Work, Work Life and Economic Policy Institute at Harvard Law School. “Of the people who remain, surely none of them feel secure in their job, and I would be shocked if the remaining people didn’t update their resumes now or talk to each other about starting a union.”
Musk began his tenure at Twitter by firing him CEO Parag Agrawal and two other CEOsaccording to two people familiar with the decision.
And that in less than a week since the capture acquired the companyC . wing It seems to have been almost completely erased, through a combination of dismissals and resignations. musk too melted Former Twitter Board of Directors.
Several employees on Friday summed up their feelings with the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked, a tense play on one often used by Twitter employees.
– Brian Fong and Sean Nottingham contributed to this report
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