After becoming the new boss, Elon Musk has laid off about half of Twitter’s workforce.
This has led to advertisers boycotting the platform, in fear that their content will appear next to problematic content with insufficient employees to police them.
Here’s what’s happening.
Firing People Even Before Formally Introducing Himself as New Boss
The layoffs were announced on Thursday night (3 November), even before Musk formally introduced himself as the new boss.
Yes, he was so busy firing people that he couldn’t even send a quick email saying hi to his employees.
In fact, an email on Thursday night acknowledging the “incredibly challenging experience” employees are going through was signed “Twitter”, not “Elon Musk”.
Employees were notified that if they were let go, they’ll receive a notification in their personal emails. If they weren’t fired, they’ll know via their work emails.
All of these emails had the subject “Your Role at Twitter”.
Hours after the layoffs were completed, those remaining at the company received no communication from management about how to proceed when half of their team is gone. Is anyone alive out there?
Remaining Employees Suffer from Impossible Deadlines
Employees shared that projects with seven-day timelines now have 24 hours, and rest days have been erased from their calendars.
Additionally, with Musk always promising new features to users in his tweets, these poor employees are rushing to meet deadlines for those as well. They’re working on a new plan for paywalled videos and for paid verification badges, since Musk seems intent on milking every dollar out of Twitter.
In just a week, Musk has instilled a new culture of fear, as a leader hyperfocused on efficiency and moneymaking.
Activists Lobbied Advertisers to Boycott Twitter (And They Actually Listened, For Once)
Civil rights groups like the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD lobbied advertisers to abandon Twitter on Friday (4 November). They reasoned that the mass layoffs left the social media platform with insufficient staff to do content moderation, which could lead to a rise in problematic content.
Starting a #StopToxicTwitter campaign, they rallied more than 60 civil rights and civil society groups to their cause.
According to several activists, this isn’t the first time they had tried to encourage advertiser boycotts to pressure social media companies to better moderate their content. While some advertisers would usually not heed activists’ calls, this Twitter case is the first time all companies said they were either considering or implementing a boycott.
When companies would willingly sacrifice potential new customers… that’s when you know that Twitter is really bad right now.
Big corporations like The Volkswagen Group, which include Audi, Lamborghini, Bently and Porsche, and Carlsberg Group have paused advertising spending on Twitter. Other big-name companies that halted advertising include Pfizer, General Mills, General Motors, and REI.
Ad-tracking platform MediaRadar showed statistics that revealed a drop in the number of advertisers on Twitter since May, which is when Musk’s bid to buy Twitter was first announced.
Musk himself even acknowledged that Twitter has been experiencing a massive drop in revenue, which he blamed on activists.
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
What’s Left of Twitter’s Workforce?
With some departments hit harder than others, let’s take a look at what’s left of the workforce.
Twitter’s Trust and Safety Team, which handles issues like content moderation, lost about 15% of their members.
Alarmingly, the platform’s Curation Team of 100 employees, which drives efforts to guide users to reliable news sources and snuff out viral lies and conspiracy theories, have been entirely laid off.
So Twitter’s Curation team is no more.
This site 👇 was recently launched to tell the world about our work. Give it a look for two reasons:
1) to see how it will impact your experience
2) if you want to hire the people behind it, get in touch via DMhttps://t.co/vGdlDSYh8r
— Andrew Haigh (@AndrewHaigh) November 4, 2022
The entire Human Rights team have also been laid off.
Yesterday was my last day at Twitter: the entire Human Rights team has been cut from the company.
I am enormously proud of the work we did to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, to protect those at-risk in global conflicts & crises including Ethiopia,
— Shannon Raj Singh (@ShannonRSingh) November 4, 2022
Half of Twitter’s security team was reportedly also laid off, which sparked even more concerns that users’ privacy could be more easily breached than before.
Only two people remained of Twitter’s communications staff, which handles public relations, media, and communication with employees. Only one employee was left of the 14-person ethical Artificial Intelligence team.
Unsurprisingly, the ad sales department experienced fewer cuts, given how Twitter makes most of their revenue from selling advertising space.
Seems like the new Twitter doesn’t seem to prioritise users’ safety and privacy, and only cares about advertising.
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