Twitter lays off workers as Musk blames activists for ‘massive’ drop in ad revenue

Twitter lays off workers as Musk blames activists for 'massive' drop in ad revenue
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  • Musk is axing half of Twitter’s workforce
  • Employees are filing a criminal case against Twitter
  • Employees lose access to systems
  • Major advertisers pull ads

Nov 4 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc cut half its workforce on Friday, but said the cuts were smaller in a team responsible for curbing the spread of disinformation, as advertisers took the cost amid concerns about content moderation.

Tweets from the social media company’s employees said there were teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics, as well as some product and engineering teams.

The move caps a week of chaos and uncertainty over the company’s future under new owner Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, who tweeted on Friday that the service was experiencing a “huge drop in revenue” from advertiser pullbacks.

Musk blamed the losses on a coalition of civil rights groups that pressured Twitter’s top advertisers to take action if it failed to protect content moderation — concerns heightened ahead of Tuesday’s potentially key congressional elections.

After the firing, the groups said they were stepping up their pressure and demanding that brands pull Twitter ads globally.

“Unfortunately no choice when the company is losing over $4 million a day,” Musk tweeted about the layoffs, adding that everyone affected has been offered three months of severance pay.

The company kept quiet about the depth of the outages until later in the day, when Yoel Roth, its head of security and integrity, tweeted confirmation. internal plansThe layoffs, seen by Reuters earlier in the week, are projected to affect about 3,700 people, or 50% of the workforce.

Among the layoffs are 784 workers from the company’s San Francisco headquarters and 199 workers in San Jose and Los Angeles, according to filings with California’s employment agency.

Roth said he cut about 15% of his team responsible for preventing the spread of disinformation and other harmful content, and that the company’s “core moderation capabilities” remain in place.

Musk backed the security executive last week, citing Roth’s “high integrity” after he was called out for tweets criticizing former President Donald Trump.

Musk promised to restore free speech While preventing Twitter from descending into a ‘hellscape’.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that Musk bought a social media platform that spread lies around the world on Twitter.

“And now what we’re all worried about is: Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that spews lies all over the world… There are no editors in America anymore. There are no editors. How do we expect kids to be able to understand what’s at stake?”

Major advertisers they have been worried about Musk’s capture for months.

Brands including General Motors Co (GM.N) and General Mills Inc (GIS.N) they said they stopped advertising on Twitter while waiting for information about the new direction of the platform.

Musk tweeted that his team had made no changes to content moderation and was doing “everything we could” to appease the groups. Speaking at an investor conference in New York on Friday, Musk called the pressure from activists “an attack on the First Amendment.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.


The email notifying employees of the layoffs was the first communication Twitter employees have received from the company’s management since Musk took office last week. It was signed only by Twitter, without naming Musk or other executives.

Without official layoff notices Friday morning, dozens of employees tweeted that they had lost access to work email and Slack channels, prompting current and former employees to lament the platform they built.

They used the hashtags #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked, a past-tense version of a slogan employees have used for years to celebrate the company’s work culture, and shared blue hearts and hello emojis expressing support for one another.

Twitter’s curation team, responsible for “highlighting and contextualizing the best events and stories happening on Twitter,” has been fired, employees wrote.

Attorney Shannon Raj Singh, Twitter’s acting head of human rights, tweeted that the company’s entire human rights team had been fired.

Another team focused on research into how Twitter uses machine learning and algorithms, a priority for Musk, was also eliminated, according to a tweet from a former senior Twitter executive.

Senior executives, including vice president of engineering Arnaud Weber, said goodbye on Twitter on Friday: “Twitter still has a lot of potential, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Employees at Twitter Blue, the premium subscription service that Musk is boosting, have also been let go. An employee with the handle “SillyRobin” who reported the layoffs quoted an earlier Musk tweet in which he said Twitter Blue would include “bypassing the paywall” for some publishers.

“To be clear, I have fired the team involved in this,” the employee said.


In an email to employees, Twitter said it would temporarily close offices and suspend access to icons “to ensure the security of each employee, as well as Twitter’s systems and customer data.”

Offices in London and Dublin appeared empty on Friday, with no staff in sight. Any evidence that Twitter once occupied the building at its London office has been removed.

A receptionist at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters said several people had come in and were working on the floors above despite a stay-away notice.

It was a class action given Several employees filed a lawsuit against Twitter on Thursday, alleging that the company violated federal and California law by making mass layoffs without the required 60-day advance notice.

The lawsuit asked a federal court in San Francisco to grant an injunction to limit Twitter’s employees from being induced to sign documents without informing them of the pending case.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Palo Alto, Katie Paul and Paresh Dave in Oakland, California; Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin, Rusharti Mukherjee, Aditya Kalra, Martin Coulter, Hyunjoo Jin, Supantha Mukherjee, and Arriana McLymore; Written by Matt Scuffham and Katie Paul; Edited by Kenneth Lee, Jason Neely, Matthew Lewis, and William Mallard

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

A tech reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area covering Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. He joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times, focusing on the local technology industry.

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