November 27, 2022

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More Twitter Employees Exit After Elon Musk’s “Hardcore” Deadline

4 min read

Confusion reigned on Twitter on Friday morning after hundreds of employees failed to respond to an ultimatum from Elon Musk demanding they commit to an “extremely tough” work culture or quit.

Hundreds of employees have announced on the company’s internal Slack channels that they are leaving the platform, according to two people familiar with the situation. The exodus comes ahead of a deadline set by Musk, after which employees must officially declare their desire to help build “Twitter 2.0” or leave with three months’ severance pay.

Many employees shared emojis of a person saluting or a blue heart as a sign of camaraderie, one of the people said. Meanwhile, some Twitter users have expressed concern that the recent exits could wreak havoc on the site.

Some employees who announced their termination still had access to email and Slack as of Friday morning, two people said, with one questioning whether Twitter had enough people to lock down the systems.

The ultimatum is part of Musk’s effort to overhaul Twitter’s historically relaxed culture, using as a blueprint the hard culture of long hours at Tesla and SpaceX, the other companies he runs. The billionaire on Wednesday told employees that they “have to be extremely persistent” and that as “a software and server company” the company will focus on engineering.

Musk sent an email urging all software engineers to show up for an in-person meeting at the San Francisco headquarters at 2 p.m. Pacific time and asked employees from out of town to fly in, two people said.

The subpoena came despite the fact that all employees were told on Thursday that the offices were closed and would remain closed on Friday as ID access was blocked, two people said.

The resignations have heightened concerns that the company has left gaping knowledge and capacity gaps just weeks after Musk laid off half of its 7,500 employees following its $44 billion acquisition. Some users of the platform feared the changes could lead to an imminent collapse of Twitter.

“I can’t stress enough how much everything is at a standstill,” said one employee.

A week ago, Musk faced a mini-exodus of top cybersecurity experts, including Yoel Roth, Head of Trust and Safety. On Thursday, Ella Irwin, a vice president of the healthcare products and services team, was named Roth’s successor to address some concerns, two people familiar with the matter said.

Some staffers attempted to request an extension of the deadline for Musk’s “hardcore” ultimatum in light of Irwin’s appointment while they conducted a reevaluation, one of the people said.

Meanwhile, Musk emailed employees on Thursday that they could work remotely on the condition that they were high achievers and had the blessing of their managers. Just last week, he ordered all Twitter employees to be in the office at least 40 hours a week.

It “feels like they want to convince [some] People stay,” said an employee on Thursday.

But others have been publicly fired in recent days for challenging the billionaire entrepreneur or raising concerns through internal messages on Slack or on the platform itself, three former employees said.

The cuts and rapid changes have raised fears of spreading misinformation and hate speech on the platform. Musk suspended logins to his flagship premium subscription service, Twitter Blue, after its “Blue Tick” feature was abused by impersonators targeting politicians and brands like Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin.

Musk also warned employees last week that bankruptcy is not out of the question. “How do you make a small fortune on social media? Start with a big one,” Musk tweeted as the resignations rolled in.

On Friday, Musk wrote on Twitter that he was introducing a new policy of “free speech but not free reach,” meaning negative and hateful tweets would be “devalued.” Hate speech would also be “demonetarized, so no advertising or other revenue for Twitter,” he added.

Some previously suspended accounts, including comedian Kathy Griffin and controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson, have been restored, he said. The decision on whether to reinstate Donald Trump is still pending, Musk added. The former US President was permanently banned following the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots. Musk has previously said he will not make decisions about permanent bans until he convenes an Expert Council on Content Moderation.

Meanwhile, Musk faces heightened scrutiny from regulators around the world.

A group of senior Democratic senators on Thursday called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Twitter over concerns that Musk’s restructuring of the company “undermined the integrity and security of the platform.”

In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, the seven senators cited the massive job cuts and reported that the company had scaled back internal privacy reviews as part of cost-cutting efforts. Signers included Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Edward Markey and Cory Booker.

European regulators and the Data Protection Commission of Ireland, Europe’s leading data protection authority, have also circled the company over similar concerns, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

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