Can Twitter still function without thousands of laid off workers, whom Elon Musk feels are extraneous? According to the media, they are “essential workers.” Yet one wonders.
Last Friday, half of Twitter’s workforce was let go. Business Insider uses such emotionally charged words as “confusion” and “chaos” to describe the firings. NBC News uses the same charged language, “chaotic,” and also “turmoil” to describe the layoffs. They added that the affected employees found being fired “infuriating.” Business Insider use the passive voice, “Musk has been criticized” for the layoffs. But it’s them, the media, who is doing the criticizing!
After the Twitter offices were closed, some employees found that they were locked out of their work laptops and company emails. Those affected, though, were given three months’ severance pay, according to a tweet from Musk, which he explains is “50 percent more than legally required.” He further explains that the company was losing 4 million a day, and so the firings were necessary.
One fired Twitter employee lamented that Musk’s takeover had “ruined the community spirit.” The company, it turns out, does not exist to provide a sense of community or a certain lifestyle to its employees, or to advance its employees’ pet social-causes.
CNN Business ominously warns that some of those laid off are part of the “curation team” which helps elevate “reliable information” including about elections. From this, we are supposed to believe that our elections, indeed our very democracy, is now in danger.
Likewise affected was the “ethics, transparency, and accountability team.” Finally, Twitter’s “human rights team” was affected by the layoffs. I do suppose you care about human rights?
By the absence of these particular Twitter employees, we are to understand that crises in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and, yes, Ukraine, will be affected. This is emotional blackmail.
In an attempt to calm down advertisers, Musk has assured that “nothing has changed in terms of content and moderation.” Musk has simply assured users: “Twitter will not censor accurate information about anything.” Isn’t that all we can ask for?
Just a couple weeks ago, a group of employees of Twitter sent an open letter to Musk, demanding that he not proceed with the layoffs and keep the remote work option, among other demands. The letter called Musk’s planned layoffs “reckless” and an “act of worker intimidation.”
Why were these employees comfortable sending this brazen letter to Musk, as though he were their employee and not the other way around? What about Musk inspires this insubordination? It is part of a pattern of disrespect against Musk; in which his critics imply that he is not really responsible for his own success, not capable of real innovation, or somehow his success is a matter of ill-gotten gains.
The firings, then, must have been a rude awakening to these employees. Perhaps they thought they had some leverage over the company and considered themselves indispensable. But they weren’t writing code, nor were they doing anything technical.
Those that were fired have what you can call “email jobs.” People with “email jobs” tend to be particularly defensive about their added value to a company; hence all the vague talk about “community” and “harm,” rather than what concrete function they fulfill.
I know what a teacher does; I know what a fireman does. But I don’t know exactly what someone on Twitter’s “curation team” does for eight hours a day. The media, as we see above, have been attempting to portray such workers as essential; and that chaos will reign in their absence. We will just have to wait and see if Twitter.com still works after their departure…