Elon Musk plans to fire roughly half of Twitter’s workforce as a cost-cutting measure on Friday, according to a new report from Bloomberg News. Musk had denied reports that he was going to lay off 75% of workers last week when he first visited Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, trying to sooth the social media company’s anxious workers. But laying off 50% of staff, which equals about 3,700 people, is still a deep cut.
The exact number of employees being let go could still change and the amount of severance to be offered is still being figured out, according to Bloomberg, but one scenario involves workers getting 60 days of pay. California law requires large employers to give 60 days notice for such a massive headcount reduction, so it’s not clear if Musk is trying to sidestep the spirit of the law by calling it 60 days of “severance.”
Musk also plans to institute a new requirement that all employees come into the office, reversing Twitter’s flexible work-from-anywhere approach instituted during the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Musk has previously said that people who work from home are only pretending to work and Twitter employees have started sleeping at the office to meet the billionaire’s tight deadlines, according to photos posted to social media.
Musk vastly overpaid for Twitter to the tune of $44 billion, a deal he tried to back out of, but was forced to finalize after Twitter filed a lawsuit against the billionaire. Ever since taking the helm, Musk has been desperately trying to figure out how to raise Twitter’s revenue while slashing costs.
One idea for bringing in fast cash, which has been playing out publicly on Twitter, is to charge a subscription rate for verification on the platform. The so-called Blue Checkmark has long been an obsession with some right-wing influencers who believe it bestows some kind of special status, when in fact it was implemented in an attempt to combat impersonation of celebrities and other people who might be trolled on the platform.
After plenty of public discussion on the topic, Musk seems to have landed on $8 as the magic number to charge for verification, but it remains to be seen how many people will actually sign up for the program. The new paid verification model could roll out as early as Monday, according to Bloomberg, though currently verified users would likely have several months before their badges would be stripped for non-payment.
Bloomberg is quick to note that plans for Twitter’s new verification model could change, according to the anonymous Twitter employees who helped leak the information. And while the reports don’t mention the reason, it seems obvious that Elon Musk doesn’t really have a grand plan for how to change Twitter, but rather a desire to shake things up quickly, no matter how haphazard the process.
But for all of Musk’s stated desires to change Twitter in dramatic ways, he’s been relying behind-the-scenes on some well-trodden methods of approaching content moderation in the social media space. The billionaire has has been meeting with civil rights groups to discuss moderation issues, a step similar to what Facebook has done in the past, as the New York Times points out. And news of those meetings has not been met favorably by right-wing Twitter users who were previously very excited to hear Musk was taking over the company. In fact, several neo-Nazi accounts on the platform expressed outrage on Wednesday in the extremely racist and antisemitic manner you’d expect.
For his part, Musk seems to be happy that he’s upsetting people—supposedly “both left and right simultaneously” as he said in a recent tweet—though he seems to believe this means he’s somehow doing a good job at running Twitter. That’s a bit like poisoning the town water supply and taking pride in the fact that you made everyone mad at you. Dropping poison into the water was just a dumb move to begin with.
It all recalls a tweet sent by pseudonymous user Travis View just a few days ago which has proved to be the most prophetic take on Musk’s takeover.
“Elon joined the ranks of the most liked and admired people on the internet: forum mod,” View tweeted.
Indeed. There’s nobody more respected on the internet than moderators. Best of luck, Elon. You’re going to need it.