Twitter: Musk defends deep cuts to company’s workforce

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk says he had “no choice” but to slash the company’s workforce as the firm is losing more than $4m (£3.5m) a day.

Half of the company’s staff are being let go, a week after Mr Musk bought Twitter in a $44bn (£38.7bn) deal.

Twitter staff have been using the platform to talk about their dismissal.

There are concerns Twitter could water down content moderation but Mr Musk said the firm’s policies remain “absolutely unchanged”.

As reports emerged on Friday that thousands of staff at Twitter around the world were losing their jobs, questions were asked over the future of employees responsible for taking down harmful material.

Online safety groups and campaigners have suggested Mr Musk might relax moderation policies, making Twitter less effective at removing hate-speech and disinformation from the platform.

Permanent Twitter bans given to controversial figures – including former president Donald Trump – could also be removed. The changes come shortly before the US midterms when a spike in disinformation is expected.

These concerns were fuelled by Mr Musk’s comments on Friday, which sought to blame Twitter’s “massive drop in revenue” on “activist groups” who were “trying to destroy free speech in America”.

He said the “reduction in force” affected around 15% of those working in Twitter’s trust and safety organisation – compared with what he said was a 50% cut seen across the company, which has about 7,500 staff.

US President Joe Biden voiced his concern about the takeover on Friday, saying “Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that sends – that spews lies all across the world… How do we expect kids to be able to understand what is at stake?”

An internal email sent to staff earlier on Friday said the mass job cuts were “unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward”.

Staff confirmed on Twitter they had been logged out of work laptops and Slack, a messaging system.

Many staff revealed that they had been axed in posts on the platform, painting a picture of cuts that spanned the globe and hit departments that ranged from marketing to engineering.

They included communications, content curation and product development employees.

Waiting for the news of job cuts, one worker wondered which would last longer, his Twitter employee login or a lettuce – a reference to a British newspaper’s viral stunt asking the same question of former Prime Minister Liz Truss.’

A host of major brands have halted advertising spending with Twitter, including Volkswagen, General Motors and Pfizer.

Almost all of Twitter’s revenue currently comes from advertising, and Mr Musk has been looking for ways to cut costs and make money in different ways from the platform, including plans to charge a monthly subscription fee for users to be verified on the platform.

He also proposed that those paying the $8 per month fee would get their tweets boosted in replies, mentions, and searches, prompting criticism from some people on Twitter that he was creating a two-tier system that would benefit those willing to pay.

Twitter employees filed a class action lawsuit on Thursday which argued the company was making big job cuts without giving 60 days’ notice, in violation of federal and Californian law.