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

  • Musk is looking for half of Twitter’s workforce
  • Employees take class action against Twitter
  • Employees lose access to systems
  • Volkswagen pulls out ads

Nov 4 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc began a massive round of layoffs on Friday, warning employees by email of their job status after barring them from entering offices and shutting down internal systems overnight. Block access to employees.

The move follows a week of turmoil and uncertainty over the company’s future under new boss Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, who tweeted on Friday that the service was facing a “major decline in revenue” as the ad Excluded costs.

Musk blamed the damage on a coalition of civil rights groups that pressured Twitter’s top clients to take action if it didn’t protect content moderation. The groups said on Friday that they are stepping up their pressure to demand that brands pull their Twitter ads globally.

“In an effort to put Twitter on a healthy path, we will be going through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” Twitter said in an email to employees Thursday evening. Reuters

The company has been tight-lipped about the depth of the cuts, although a Reuters review of internal plans this week indicated that Musk would cut about 3,700 employees, or about half of Twitter’s workforce.

Employees who worked in engineering, communications, product, content curation and machine learning ethics were among those affected by the layoffs, according to tweets from Twitter employees.

Shannon Raj Singh, a lawyer who was Twitter’s acting head of human rights, tweeted on Friday that the entire human rights team at the company had been cut.

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Musk has vowed to restore free speech while preventing Twitter from descending into a “hellscape.” However, his reassurances failed to appease major clients, who have expressed concern over his arrest for months.

Volkswagen AG ( VOWG_p.DE ) has advised its brands to halt paid advertising on Twitter until further notice in the wake of Musk’s arrest, it said on Friday. Its comments echo similar comments from other companies, including General Motors Inc ( GM.N ) and General Mills Inc ( GIS.N ).

Angelo Carson, director of media affairs for America, which is part of the Civil Rights Coalition, said he knows of two other major advertisers that are preparing to announce that they will stop advertising on the platform.

Musk tweeted that his team had made no changes to content moderation and was doing “everything we could” to please the groups. “So messed up! They (civil rights groups) are trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Speaking at an investor conference in New York on Friday, Musk called the activist push an “attack on the First Amendment.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Access to the systems kit

Dozens of employees tweeted that they had lost access to work email and Slack channels before receiving official notice, which they took as a sign that they had been fired.

They tweeted blue hearts and emojis to show support for each other, using the hashtags #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked, an earlier version of a slogan employees have used for years to celebrate the company’s work culture.

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Twitter’s curation team, which is responsible for “identifying and contextualizing the best events and stories that emerge on Twitter,” has been eliminated, employees at the platform said. According to Twitter’s CEO in Asia, the company’s communications team in India has also been laid off.

According to a tweet from a former senior manager at Twitter, a team focused on researching how Twitter employed algorithms, an issue that was a priority for Musk, was also eliminated.

Senior executives, including vice president of engineering Arnold Weber, also said their goodbyes on Twitter on Friday: “Twitter still has a lot of untapped potential but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he tweeted.

Employees of Twitter Blue, the premium subscription service that powers Musk, have also been let go. An employee with the handle “SillyRobin” who indicated they had been fired, quoted Musk’s earlier tweet that Twitter Blue would include a “paywall bypass” for some publishers.

“Just to be clear, the team working on this has been fired,” the employee said.

Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, appears to be keeping his job, as is vice president of product Keith Coleman, who launched a tool called BirdWatch for users to write notes on tweets that they Recognize it as misleading.

Last week, Musk endorsed Roth, citing his “high integrity” after Roth was called out over tweets critical of former US President Donald Trump several years ago. Musk also tweeted that he likes Birdwatch.

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Roth and Coleman did not respond to requests for comment.

The doors are locked

Twitter said in an email to employees that offices will be temporarily closed and badge access will be suspended to “help protect each employee as well as Twitter’s systems and customer information.”

Offices in London and Dublin appeared deserted on Friday, with no staff present. At the London office, any evidence that Twitter once occupied the building has been destroyed.

A receptionist at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters said a few people were working on the upper floors despite the stay-away notice.

On Thursday, a class action was filed against Twitter by its employees, who argued that the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing the required 60-day advance notice, in violation of federal and California law.

The lawsuit also asked a San Francisco federal court to issue an order stopping Twitter from asking employees to sign documents without notifying them of the pending litigation.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Katie Powell in Palo Alto, Calif., and Dave Parrish in Oakland, Calif. Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin, Rasharti Mukherjee, Aditya Kalra, Martin Coulter, Hyunjo Jain, Supanta Mukherjee and Ariana McLemore Writing by Matt Editing by Kenneth Lee, Jason Neely and Matthew Lewis for Scoffum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dayo

Thomson Reuters

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

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