Twitter lays off ‘massive’ ad revenue drop as Musk blames activists

  • Musk wants to lay off about half of Twitter’s workforce
  • Employees file class-action lawsuit against Twitter
  • Employees cannot access the system
  • Volkswagen pulls ads

Nov 4 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc began mass layoffs on Friday, alerting employees by email about their work status after barring office entrances and cutting off employees’ access to internal systems overnight.

Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, tweeted on Friday that the service was experiencing a “significant drop in revenue” as advertisers scaled back spending, leaving the company’s future in chaos and uncertainty for a week. .

Musk blamed the loss on a coalition of civil rights groups that has been pressuring Twitter’s top advertisers to act without protecting content moderation. The groups said Friday they were ramping up pressure and asking brands to pull their Twitter ads globally.

“To put Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through a difficult process of cutting our global workforce on Friday,” Twitter said in an email to employees late Thursday, announcing Friday’s layoffs. Reuters.

The company has been mum on the depth of the layoffs, although internal plans reviewed by Reuters this week suggest Musk wants to cut about 3,700 Twitter employees, or about half its workforce.

Employees working in engineering, communications, product, content management and machine learning ethics were all affected by the layoffs, according to tweets from Twitter employees.

Twitter’s acting human rights chief, lawyer Shannon Raj Singh, tweeted Friday that the company’s entire human rights team has been laid off.

Musk has promised to restore free speech while preventing Twitter from “hell.” However, his assurances have failed to calm major advertisers, who have raised concerns about his takeover for months.

Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) advised its brand to suspend paid advertising on Twitter until further notice after Musk’s takeover, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) said on Friday. Its comments echoed similar comments from other companies, including General Motors Co (GM.N) and General Mills Co (GIS.N).

Angelo Carusone, president of U.S. media affairs, a member of the Civil Rights League, said he was aware of two other major advertisers preparing to announce that they would suspend advertising on the platform.

Musk tweeted that his team had made no changes to content moderation and was “doing everything we could” to appease the groups. “Extreme chaos! They (civil rights groups) are trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Speaking at an investor conference in New York on Friday, Musk called activist pressure an “attack on the First Amendment.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Dozens of employees tweeted that they lost access to work emails and Slack channels until they were officially notified, which they saw as a sign of being fired.

Using hashtags like #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked, they tweeted blue hearts and salute emoji to show their support for each other, a past-tense version of a catchphrase that employees have used over the years to celebrate the company’s work culture.

The Twitter curation team responsible for “highlighting and contextualizing the best events and stories unfolding on Twitter” has been laid off, employees said on the platform. The company’s communications team in India has also been fired, according to a Twitter executive in Asia.

A team focused on how Twitter uses algorithms, a priority for Musk, has also been eliminated, according to a tweet by a former senior Twitter manager.

Senior executives, including VP of Engineering Arnaud Weber, also said their goodbyes on Twitter on Friday: “Twitter still has a lot of untapped potential, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he tweeted. .

Employees at Twitter Blue, a premium subscription service backed by Musk, were also fired. An employee named “SillyRobin” who said they were fired, tweeted a reference to Musk’s previous tweet that Twitter Blue would include “bypassing the paywall” for certain publishers.

“To be clear, he fired the team that worked on this,” the employee said.

Twitter’s head of security and integrity, Yoel Roth, appeared to have kept his job, as did VP of product Keith Coleman, who launched a tool called Birdwatch that lets users write on tweets they deem misleading Notes.

Musk last week endorsed Ross, citing his “high integrity” after he was named for tweets criticizing former U.S. President Donald Trump years ago. Musk also tweeted that he loves Birdwatch.

Ross and Coleman did not respond to requests for comment.

door locked

In an email to employees, Twitter said offices would be temporarily closed and badges were temporarily suspended to “help ensure the security of every employee and Twitter’s systems and customer data.”

Offices in London and Dublin were deserted on Friday, with no staff in sight. At the London office, any evidence that Twitter had ever taken over the building was wiped.

A receptionist at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters said some people had sneaked in and worked upstairs despite being notified to stay away.

On Thursday, its employees filed a class-action lawsuit against Twitter, alleging that the company violated federal and California law by making mass layoffs without providing the required 60-day advance notice.

The lawsuit also asks a federal court in San Francisco to issue an order restricting Twitter from requiring fired employees to sign documents without notifying them of the pending case.

Sheila Dang reported from Dallas, Katie Paul from Palo Alto, California, and Paresh Dave from Oakland, California. Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin, Rusharti Mukherjee, Aditya Kalra, Martin Coulter, Hyunjoo Jin, Supantha Mukherjee and Arriana McLymore Editing by Kenneth Li, Jason Neely and Matthew Lewis by Matt Scuffham

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

Tech reporters in the San Francisco Bay Area cover Google and other Alphabet Inc. companies. After four years at the Los Angeles Times, he joined Reuters in 2017 to focus on the local tech industry.

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