Why is Elon Musk Firing Twitter Employees?

SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk speaks in front of Crew Dragon cleanroom at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California on October 10, 2019. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of days, you’ve probably heard that Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, is firing a lot of his employees. This is all a bit surprising considering how he and his team had been working to build a platform that was supposed to allow people to have conversations with each other online.

Eric Frohnhoefer’s tweets to Elon Musk

During his time at Twitter, former software engineer Eric Frohnhoefer tangled with Elon Musk over a particular issue. Musk complained about the speed of Twitter on Android devices, and Frohnhoefer responded by suggesting that some features on the app should be removed to speed up loading time. Despite this, Frohnhoefer was fired after arguing publicly with Musk.

After firing Frohnhoefer, Musk made a public apology for Twitter’s slowness in several countries. He also mentioned that Twitter’s staff members had made some poorly batched remote procedure calls, which he said was causing Twitter to be slow. Musk promised to fix Twitter’s technical performance.

While the tweets between Frohnhoefer and Musk were a public affair, they also took place on the company’s Slack, an internal chat platform. The exchange took place for three hours, and it ended with a heated argument between the two. Musk described the employee who was fired as a “tragic case of adult-onset Tourette’s,” while Frohnhoefer described Musk as a “free speech maven.”

While Frohnhoefer had previously worked at Twitter for eight years, he recently lost access to the company’s internal systems and laptop. He claimed that he never received a formal notice of his dismissal, but that he had a coworker tell him that he was fired. He later tweeted a photo of his Mac locked by Twitter. It was later reported that Frohnhoefer was not the only person to be fired for criticizing Musk. In fact, Ben Leib was also fired for his criticism of Musk.

As a result of the argument, Frohnhoefer lost access to the company’s laptop for five hours. While he was locked out, he tweeted a picture of his locked Mac, along with a message: “Guess it is official now!” He later tweeted another photo of his locked laptop screen, and captioned it: “Guess it is official!”

After Frohnhoefer was fired, Musk tweeted a long apology, claiming that he was “misled” by Frohnhoefer. He also apologized for Twitter’s poor technical performance in several countries. Musk also mentioned that the Twitter application on Android devices was slow and asked Frohnhoefer to send him fixes. Frohnhoefer replied with a long thread, mostly technical. He said he had spent six years working on the Twitter application for Android. He also said that his employer had recently laid off half of its staff.

Frohnhoefer’s Twitter account has been active since his firing, and it is unclear what prompted the tweets. However, he did respond to a Forbes reporter, who reached out to him to confirm the news. After Frohnhoefer was fired, he called Twitter’s staff “cowards.” He also said that he received zero communication from the company regarding his dismissal. He said he would like to use email and Slack to answer Musk’s questions, but suggested that he could do so in private.

Comments on internal Slack channel criticizing new owner Elon Musk

Earlier this week, Elon Musk, the CEO and founder of Tesla, fired a group of engineers from Twitter after they posted comments on the company’s internal Slack channel. The engineers made negative remarks about Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, and leadership. The tweet was taken down and subsequently, Elon Musk vowed to fire all employees who made similar comments.

According to NBC News, at least 20 Twitter employees have been fired for their comments on Slack. Twitter’s Slack is the company’s internal messaging system and employees are expected to delete any messages they feel are not in line with Twitter’s values. Some employees have been asked to move their communications to Signal, an encrypted chat app, or to delete references to the company in their Twitter biographies. Some of the employees have suggested that they may be removed from Twitter’s roster of verified employees.

A person familiar with the situation estimates that at least 20 employees were fired, though a screenshot of their Slack conversations was not provided. Twitter’s chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, has resigned. A number of former employees have confirmed the firings on their verified accounts. Some of the fired employees have even shared screenshots of their internal Twitter conversations with NBC News.

According to the New York Times, Elon Musk has already laid off half of his Twitter staff, including executives, in a bid to cut costs. Some employees are blaming Musk for the company’s recent slowdown. Others have criticized his leadership and attitude. Some have said that Musk has given them an ultimatum: work long hours or be fired.

A number of Twitter employees have also complained about the company’s moderation enforcement. One person on Twitter’s security team wrote a message to other employees warning them not to be too critical of Twitter. Another employee said he was fired because he refused to follow company rules about deleting his comments. Other employees warned that their conversations on Slack could be searched. One former employee said he was notified he was being fired the night before, and another said he received a sacking email early the next morning. Other employees say they are merely trying to make their voices heard.

An employee on the Twitter privacy team wrote a message in the Slack channel warning Musk about dangerous actions. A few employees took umbrage with the content of the message, while others pointed out that they didn’t think it was a violation of the company’s rules. The messages also made reference to Twitter’s “Blue Verified” feature, which allows users to pay $7.99 to have their blue check icon added to their tweets.

NBC News has gathered screenshots of Twitter’s internal Slack chats, and some of the employees who made the comments were personally critical of Musk. Others criticized Musk’s leadership or his attitude, or complained about the platform’s slowness in various countries.

Layoffs are “random and indiscriminate”

During the course of his recent takeover of Twitter, Elon Musk has made a number of changes. He has fired a number of top executives, including chief executive Parag Agrawal and chief financial officer Jeff Williams. He has also laid off thousands of workers. He has said that Twitter is now losing over $4 million a day. He has promised that Twitter will not go down into a “hellscape” and will return to being a platform for free speech. But his reassurances have failed to stop major advertisers from pulling back from the platform. He has also promised to restore access to Twitter’s elections integrity tools. However, many Twitter employees say the company has not been clear enough on the cost-cutting plan and that they are being fired without sufficient notice.

A former executive with Twitter told POLITICO that employees were sending frantic WhatsApp messages to find out who had been laid off. He described the layoffs as “random and indiscriminate” and that the company’s European headquarters in Dublin were “carnage”. Some staffers were told they had lost access to Twitter’s corporate Slack account. Others were told that their badge access would be suspended on Friday.

Twitter’s European headquarters were established in Ireland in 2011. There are around 500 employees working there. The company is laying off more than half of them as part of its cost-cutting plan. However, if the European labor laws are as strict as those in the US, firing local staff may be costly.

Elon Musk has already laid off a number of his staff in the United States. He has said that Twitter is losing $4 million a day and that the company is not profitable. In addition, he has promised that Twitter will not be a “hellscape” for users. However, the company has already lost a number of major advertisers and major tech companies have pulled back from the platform. The company is expected to cut more than 3,700 jobs worldwide, or half its workforce, as it restructures its operations. In addition, Twitter has disbanded a unit devoted to improving transparency around automated algorithms. It has also sacked all but two members of its ethical AI team, which is responsible for identifying accounts with fake or misleading profiles.

Workers say that they were notified of the layoffs too late and that they were offered three months of severance instead of the minimum of three months. They say that they were given no information about their future at the company and that they were not told about job risks. Some workers said they had to work through weekends while others were explicitly told to take part in ‘work sprints’ on the weekend.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Twitter in the California state court. The suit accuses Twitter of failing to give its employees enough advance notice of the layoffs and of providing insufficient notice of termination. In addition, the lawsuit claims that Twitter violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. It requires that companies provide notice to employees at least 60 days prior to a layoff.

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