Hundreds of Twitter employees reject Elon Musk’s ultimatum and resign

Senators have issued a letter to the Federal Trade Commission after a huge walkout at the social media company, the immediate viability of which has been questioned by departing workers

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.Lea Suzuki/The Chronicle (AP)

Some tweeted a video with a countdown of their final moments at the company. Others made their farewell messages public. Many more – hundreds, according to specialized industry press – said goodbye through the company’s internal messaging tools. The great resignation has spread to Twitter, where hundreds of employees have rejected Elon Musk’s ultimatum to accept a new corporate culture at the social network and instead elected to leave a company whose workforce was already depleted due to the first wave of layoffs enacted by the tycoon after his $44 billion takeover.

Musk had sent all the company’s employees an email asking them to commit to working harder if they wanted to remain at the company: “This will mean working many hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a pass,” read the ultimatum, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

“If you are sure that you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below,” read the email, which asked employees to agree to the terms on a linked form. If they did not do so before 5.00pm ET on Thursday, they were informed they would be entitled to three months’ severance pay.

Hundreds of Twitter employees have apparently rejected Musk’s new deal and decided to head for the exit door. The Tesla and SpaceX founder had already laid off half of Twitter’s workforce of approximately 7,500 employees within a week of taking control of the company. That was followed by a trickle of further layoffs and resignations but Thursday’s mass action leaves the viability of the platform in doubt.

Twitter employees left farewell messages on the platform itself, many after working at the company for years. “I thought my soul was already fully crushed after the last two weeks. I was so wrong. Today has been rough. There will never be a better culture than what we had. We know it. Every other tech company knows it,” tweeted one former employee. using the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked.

According to industry publication The Verge, the company’s internal communication tool was filled with farewell messages shortly before the deadline expired. The mass departure of hundreds of employees leaves some of Twitter’s departments critically understaffed, including the one responsible for moderating content. Advertisers have also fled the social network en masse as they wait to see how the situation develops.

“I know of six critical systems (like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical) which no longer have any engineers,” a departing Twitter employee was quoted as saying by The Washington Post. “There is no longer even a skeleton crew manning the system. It will continue to coast until it runs into something, and then it will stop.”

Senators issue letter to Federal Trade Commission

The efficient operation of the social network and its systems is at risk due the mass resignation and Twitter’s lack of resources also places the company’s compliance with consumer protection laws at risk. Seven Democratic senators penned a letter Thursday addressed to Lina Khan, president of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), asking for an investigation to be opened.

“In recent weeks, Twitter’s new Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, has taken alarming steps that have undermined the integrity and safety of the platform, and announced new features despite clear warnings those changes would be abused for fraud, scams, and dangerous impersonation,” the letter read. “According to media reports, in prioritizing increasing profits and cutting costs, Twitter’s executives have dismissed key staff, scaled back internal privacy reviews, and forced engineers to take on legal liability for new changes, preventing managers and staff tasked with overseeing safety and legal compliance from reviewing the product updates.”

The senators also cited an increase in racist, sexist and hate messages and the chaotic launch of Twitter’s paid verification system, which has allowed impostors to impersonate public figures including US President Joe Biden, politicians, athletes, celebrities and even companies. The new subscription service, which costs $7.99 per month, has been suspended until November 29.

Faced with the massive departure of employees, Musk decided to close Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, invalidate security passes and deny access to employees until next Monday – as he did during the first round of layoffs – over fears that they may boycott the company.

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