Written by: Katie Scott, Business Reporter
This has been a turbulent week for the workforce of Twitter, now owned by Tesla-founder and multi-billionaire Elon Musk.
On 4th November, reports started circulating from staff that their access to their work computers and networks had been abruptly cut. Employees received an email stating: “In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce. We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”
The Guardian suggests that nearly half of the company’s global workforce of 7500 people have lost their jobs. That evening, Musk tweeted a confirmation of the cuts stating: “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.” He added: “Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.”
Major brands including Pfizer, General Motors, General Mills and Audi are amongst those who have pulled their advertising from the social platform amid fears that Musk’s Free speech campaign could lead to a dramatic increase in hate speech and misinformation. PR Week reported huge cuts at the company’s Comms team, which works with journalists; as well as the entire Human Rights team.
Musk hit back at this though in another Twitter tirade accusing “activist groups [for] pressuring advertisers” and suggesting “we did everything we could to appease the activists”. He also declared: “They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
However, an anonymous employee told The Guardian that the job cuts meant Twitter simply could not operate as it had before: “The platform is likely to become more toxic with less healthy information to counter the disinformation or misinformation narratives,” they said.
A group of four ex-employees has launched a class action against Twitter arguing that they were not given enough notice about their job losses under Federal Law. Trail Lawyer Lisa Bloom told the press: “Elon Musk has a history of violating California’s labor laws, as Tesla has been hit with a shocking number of sexual and racial harassment lawsuits. His workers are human beings who are all entitled to respectful treatment. This time a hard-hitting class-action lawsuit will finally educate him that even the world’s richest man is not above the law.”
The news from Twitter comes at a time when Meta is also mooting job cuts. The Wall Street Journal writes that there will be large-scale layoffs this week. At the end of October, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said that the company would “...focus our investments on a small number of high priority growth areas. So that means some teams will grow meaningfully, but most other teams will stay flat or shrink over the next year.”