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Saturday, November 05, 2022

Elon Musk defends Twitter layoffs, saying staff given three months’ pay | Twitter | The Guardian

Elon Musk defends Twitter layoffs, saying staff given three months’ pay

"New owner says company is losing $4m a day as he tries to reassure advertisers over content moderation

Elon Musk
Elon Musk said in a tweet that ‘Twitter will not censor accurate information about anything.’ Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

Elon Musk has defended the mass layoffs at Twitter by saying axed employees received a three-month payment from the company, which is losing more than $4m a day.

The company began widespread staff cuts around the world on Friday, with suggestions that as many as half of its more than 7,500 staff could lose their jobs.

Musk tweeted on Friday evening: “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance.”

Musk is thought to want to drastically reduce costs at the company after completing his $44bn ($39bn) takeover of the platform last week.

He tweeted a series of posts by Twitter’s head of safety, Yoel Roth, which said: “Here are the facts about where Twitter’s Trust & Safety and moderation capacity stands today. While we said goodbye to incredibly talented friends and colleagues yesterday, our core moderation capabilities remain in place.

“Yesterday’s reduction in force affected approximately 15% of our Trust & Safety organisation (as opposed to approximately 50% cuts company-wide), with our front-line moderation staff experiencing the least impact.

“Last week, for security reasons, we restricted access to our internal tools for some users, including some members of my team. Most of the 2,000-plus content moderators working on front-line review were not impacted, and access will be fully restored in the coming days.

“More than 80% of our incoming content moderation volume was completely unaffected by this access change. The daily volume of moderation actions we take stayed steady through this period.”

Musk followed this with a tweet saying: “Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged. In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline *below* our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press.”

He had earlier accused “activist groups” of putting pressure on advertisers to leave the platform, causing a drop in revenue.

The Tesla owner also replied to posts and memes from users about advertising, in one saying: “Twitter will not censor accurate information about anything.”

Online safety groups and campaigners have expressed concerns about Musk’s plans to allow more free speech on the site and reverse permanent bans given to controversial figures including Donald Trump.

Joe Biden said at a campaign event in Illinois on Friday night: “Now what are we all worried about? Elon Musk, who goes out and buys an outfit that sends and spews lies all across the world. How do we expect kids to be able to understand what is at stake?”

In the UK, the Prospect union, which represents thousands of technology workers including Twitter employees, said in a letter to the business secretary, Grant Shapps, that the firm had acted “in an unacceptable way”.

Simon Deakin, a professor of law at the University of Cambridge, said that if 100 or more employees of a company are sacked within a period of 90 days, the business secretary must be notified 45 days before the first dismissal. Where there are more than 20 but fewer than 100 potential losses, the period is 30 days.

Deakin said: “If there’s no effective notice given here then there could be a fine, so the employer or director could be fined. And the fine currently doesn’t have a limit and it’s a criminal offence.

“If they are making 100 workers redundant then there’s a possibility of a criminal offence being committed, we don’t know the full story, what is the establishment and maybe they have given notice.”

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Elon Musk defends Twitter layoffs, saying staff given three months’ pay | Twitter | The Guardian

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Twitter exodus: company faces murky future as top managers flee the nest

Twitter exodus: company faces murky future as top managers flee the nest

“In the wake of Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, rumors of job cuts swirl and employees report being left in the dark

Photo illustration of a blurred blue Twitter logo that appears to be flying off to the right. In the foreground, a hand holds a smartphone with Elon Musk's Twitter profile showing.

Twitter is facing fresh uncertainty amid a growing exodus of top management and reports that mass layoffs and major changes to the platform could be coming within days.

The company’s advertising and marketing chiefs have recently announced their departures, as well as the chief people and diversity officer, the general manager for core technologies, the head of product and vice-president of global sales. Last week, Elon Musk fired the CEO, Parag Agrawal, the chief financial officer, Ned Segal, and the legal affairs and policy chief, Vijaya Gadde, shortly after taking over the company.

Sarah Personette, the chief customer officer and ad boss who had said she was looking forward to working with Musk, tweeted on Tuesday that she had resigned, adding to advertisers’ uncertainty over how the social media company will change under its new owner.

Dalana Brand, the chief people and diversity officer announced on Tuesday in a LinkedIn post that she had also resigned last week. The general manager for core technologies, Nick Caldwell, confirmed his departure on Twitter, changing his profile bio to “former Twitter exec” by Monday night.

Chief marketing officer Leslie Berland, Twitter’s head of product Jay Sullivan, and its vicepresident of global sales, Jean-Philippe Maheu, have also left, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. It was not immediately clear whether they quit or were asked to leave.

Reports about job cuts have swirled since even before Musk officially took over. The latest report from Bloomberg said on Wednesday that Twitter’s new billionaire owner would cut about 3,700 jobs – amounting to half of Twitter’s workforce, in order to reduce costs, and would also ask workers to return to the office. The outlet further reported that Musk planned to start charging for Twitter “blue check mark” verification by next week.

Multiple employees told Reuters they continue to receive little communication about the future of the company. Twitter cancelled a check-in call last week as well as an all-staff meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Musk’s team plans to meet with advertisers in New York next week as the company’s increasingly skittish customers raise alarms about the potential for harmful content to appear next to their ads.

Hateful content has skyrocketed since Musk’s takeover. Use of the n-word has increased by nearly 500% on Twitter, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, which identifies “cyber-social threats”.

A coalition of more than 40 advocacy organizations including the NAACP and Free Press sent an open letter to Twitter’s top 20 advertisers on Tuesday, asking them to pull their ads if Musk guts content moderation on the platform.

Mediabrands, a unit of ad holding company IPG, has advised its clients to pause advertising on Twitter for the next week until the company gives more details about its plans to protect trust and safety on the platform, Reuters reported, according to a source familiar with the matter. IPG works with major advertisers such as Coca-Cola.

Musk has attempted to reassure advertisers. “Twitter’s commitment to brand safety is unchanged,” he tweeted on Monday.

He previously said he would reverse Twitter’s ban on Donald Trump, who was kicked off because of concerns he could incite further violence after the insurrection at the US Capitol last year. But this week, Musk indicated that no banned accounts would be re-instated until at least after the US midterms.“