Employees were laid off from Twitter (TWTR) globally starting on Nov. 3 and abruptly learned their individual fates by email or being logged off their laptops and Slack, a messaging app.
Twitter employees announced their loss on the microblogging platform by using the #lovewhereyouworked hashtag.
Teams of employees who worked on social, content moderation, engineering, marketing and human resources were all let go just days before the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 8. Musk fired the chief executive, chief financial officer and other executives last week.
Some employees worked on the security, transparency and machine-learning teams and contributed to the artificial-intelligence algorithm, which is what shows up in the feeds for users, ad delivery and content moderation.
Countless employees from the U.S. to the U.K. to India to France were fired by new owner Elon Musk, who finalized the $44 billion deal on Oct. 27.
“Getting rid of public policy people when you’re claiming to do ‘real free speech’ is the [stupidest] move ever,” wrote Audrey Herblin-Stoop, Twitter’s former chief lobbyist in France.
How Employees Learned They Were Fired
Some employees learned about their futures only when they were unable to log onto their email accounts or Slack, including one Twitter user who was a cloud engineer for the microblogging company.
Another employee said he was still working for Twitter and writing an email when he discovered he was fired.
“Getting logged out of Twitter in the middle of working. Interesting way to be let go,” he tweeted. “I think I’d rather be escorted out of the building than logged off while writing an email.”
Joan Deitchman, a former senior engineer manager who worked on the machine learning ethics, transparency and accountability team, said Twitter’s team that worked on transparency and choice for the algorithms was dismissed.
“Yep, the team is gone,” she tweeted. “The team that was researching and pushing for algorithmic transparency and algorithmic choice. The team that was studying algorithmic amplification. The team that was inventing and building ethical AI tooling and methodologies. All that is gone.”
Deitchman also tweeted her last Slack message to the team, stating that she was “forever grateful that Rumman Chowdhury took a chance on me and I got to be a small part of it.”
Simon Balmain, who was the former senior community manager in England, tweeted, “Looks like I’m unemployed y’all. Just got remotely logged out of my work laptop and removed from Slack. #OneTeam forever. Loved you all so much. So sad it had to end this way.”
Ryan Maher, who is also a former Twitter employee, responded to Balmain by tweeting, “I’m so sorry to hear that Simon!! You put your heart into Twitter Communities.”
Karen Zapata said she found out she no longer had a job at Twitter when she attempted to log onto her laptop.
Employees Are ‘Sad, Angry’
Many employees expressed their anger and sadness along with relief given that Twitter’s management team never communicated with employees since Musk, the world’s richest man, took over the company.
Kristian Lum, a machine learning researcher, said she felt a range of emotions about losing her job.
“So many emotions about the lay off,” she tweeted. “Relief because it’s all over. Gratitude for having gotten to work with the brightest, most compassionate people around. Pride for what we did accomplish. And sadness for what we could and would have accomplished in a different timeline.”
Others such as Lauren Pinnella Traylor said receiving news about being laid off via email was “dehumanizing.”
“Well, it’s been real,” she tweeted. “The official (and very dehumanizing) layoff email has been received. The most amazing job with the incredible #OneTeam The best may be yet to come, but for now, I’m absolutely gutted. #LoveWhereYouWorked #LoveWhoYouWorkedWith“
Many employees posted about their job losses on Twitter, including Moushmi, an engineering manager, who tweeted, “And after 6.5 years, it comes to an end. This timeline is hurting tonight with me … #lovewhereyouworked“
Some employees received vitriol, criticism, and flippant comments from real accounts and trolls.
“Tweeps do not deserve this,” Lum tweeted in reference to fired Twitter employees. “On the one side, your own friends make light of the impending layoffs with the “I was laid off from twitter” meme. On the other, pure vitriol from Elon’s minions delighting in complete strangers losing their jobs and insulting us.”
Although tech workers often receive higher salaries compared to workers in other industries, many Twitter employees also sought better working conditions for other people, Lum said.
“To all the people showing up in tweeps’ mentions to revel in the layoffs because we had it better than they did: us having good salaries and humane working conditions didn’t lessen your ability to have that too,” she tweeted. “We weren’t hoarding those things; we want them for you too.”
Some employees were more sanguine, like Yash Agarwal, who worked on the public policy team in India.
Musk Faces Legal Issues
Twitter could face numerous lawsuits from employees since they were not given much notice for the firings. California, along with European countries such as the U.K., Belgium, and France, have strict laws governing the layoffs of employees and the amount of notice they must receive beforehand.
Disgruntled former Twitter employees in the U.S. already have launched a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. In the Nov. 3 complaint, the plaintiffs, Emmanuel Cornet, Justine De Caires, Grae Kindel, Alexis Camacho, and Jessica Pan, accuse the company of failing to meet the legal notice period for mass layoffs.
Rachel Bonn was fired and stated she was pregnant. Situations like hers could lead to potential discrimination lawsuits.
“Last Thursday in the SF office, really the last day Twitter was Twitter. 8 months pregnant and have a 9 month old. Just got cut off from laptop access #LoveWhereYouWorked,” she tweeted.
Late Friday, Musk defended the layoffs in a tweet, saying “unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.” He added that “Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.”