Elon Musk defends culling of Twitter employees but insists moderation obligation remains ‘absolutely unchanged’ | US News
Elon Musk has defended the layoff of half of Twitter’s 8,000 employees, saying: “Unfortunately, there is no other choice”.
Mr Musk insisted the platform’s commitment to moderation remains “absolutely unchanged”.
He tweeted: “Unfortunately in terms of reducing Twitter’s power there is no other choice when the company is losing over $4 million a day.
“Each who left was offered a three-month severance package, which is 50% more than the law requires.”
Just minutes before Mr. Musk’s tweets, Twitter Head of Security and Integrity Yoel Roth confirmed the layoffs affected 50% of the company, including about 15% of the Trust and Security department.
The moderation staff on the front lines have experienced “the least impact,” he added.
Mr Musk retweeted this, describing it as an “excellent summary”.
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The words aimed to reassure users, who feared Mr Musk’s takeover and job losses would undermine moderation and security teams and render the platform lawless.
This is especially important ahead of the US midterm elections, as Twitter has been blamed as a factor in spreading disinformation and abuse.
Jessica González, Co-CEO of Free Press, said: “If you reportedly lay off 50% of your employees – including the teams responsible for the actual tracking, monitoring and enforcement of content moderation and rules – it inevitably means that changed content moderation .”
Entire teams eliminated
Several employees tweeted about losing their jobs, saying Twitter eliminated teams focused on human rights and global conflicts, another team that reviews algorithms for bias in tweet amplification, and a team of engineers dedicated to the Make platform more accessible for people with disabilities.
The company had postponed to reassure staff last month that there were no plans for mass redundancies after it was reported that Mr Musk wanted to lay off 75% of the workforce following his $44bn (£38.4bn) takeover.
But Mr Musk fired a number of top executives, including Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, removing the company’s board on its first day as owner.
Lawsuit from ex-employees
Staff were later told they would find out their future on Friday, with some getting early leads after losing access to their work accounts.
At least one lawsuit has been filed by four former employees alleging that Twitter violated federal law by failing to give fired employees the required notification, The Associated Press reported.
Mr Musk could also be open to discrimination claims if it turns out that certain groups, such as women, people of color or older workers, were disproportionately affected.
“Great diligence” required for “dismissals of this magnitude”.
Employment attorney Peter Rahbar told The Associated Press that most employers “take great care in making layoffs of this magnitude” to make them justified and do not unfairly discriminate against the company or attract unwanted attention.
“For some reason he seems to want to fire half the company without doing due diligence on what these people do or who they are, and without regard to the law.”
According to Emma Bartlett, partner in employment and partnership law at CM Murray LLP, in the UK Twitter has a legal obligation to fire employees.
Failing to notify the government in case of mass layoffs “could face criminal penalties,” she said, adding that whether criminal penalties would ever be imposed is another question.
Meanwhile, a number of companies announced they will suspend ad spending on Twitter, including United Airlines, Audi, General Mills and General Motors.