(CNN) — Twitter laid off employees across the company on Friday in a major round of cost-cutting that could change the way one of the world’s most influential platforms operates, a week after it was bought by billionaire Elon Musk.
The layoffs eliminated roughly 50% of the company’s total workforce, according to Yoel Roth, the platform’s chief security and integrity officer. Roth’s comments, released overnight Friday, represent the first public confirmation of the scale of the layoffs.
Twitter had roughly 7,500 employees before the cuts, meaning the deep cuts have resulted in the departure of about 3,700 workers.
Affected employees have been offered three months’ severance pay, Musk said Friday afternoon. And he assures that the offer for laid-off workers is 50 percent higher than the legal one, although it is not clear which laws he is referring to. “Regarding Twitter’s (workforce) cuts, unfortunately there is no other option when the company is losing more than $4 million a day,” the billionaire added.
Twitter employees announce their layoffs
A number of Twitter employees began posting on the platform Thursday night and Friday morning that they had already been blocked from their company email accounts before receiving the termination notice. Some also shared blue hearts and emojis to show they were out of touch.
On Friday morning, Twitter employees from ethical AI, marketing and communications, search, public policy, wellness and other teams tweeted that they had been fired. Members of the curation team, who help ensure reliable information is visible on the platform, including that about elections, have also been let go, according to employee postings.
“I just remotely logged out of my work laptop and got kicked out of Slack,” a Twitter employee said on the platform. “So sad it had to end this way.”
Another employee said she and other members of Twitter’s human rights team were fired. The employee added that she was proud of the team’s work “to protect those at risk in global conflicts and crises, including Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Ukraine, and to advocate for the needs of those at particular risk of human rights violations.” thanks to their presence on social networks, as journalists and defenders of human rights.”
A Twitter employee who was fired told CNN on Friday that some workers were relieved to be fired. “For me, security would be a punishment,” said the employee.
While Twitter employees announced they were being fired, Musk appeared in a friendly interview at an investor conference on Friday to talk about making electric vehicles cheaper and his ambitions to go to Mars. During the interview, Musk said on Twitter, “I tried to get out of the deal,” but later added, “I think there’s tremendous potential…and I think it could be one of the most valuable companies in the world.”
The questioner said Musk had fired “half of Twitter,” and Musk agreed, though he did not comment on the remark. He described the layoffs as necessary for the company, which, like other social media companies, had “revenue challenges” before the acquisition as advertisers review spending amid fears of a recession.
Musk also said that “several large advertisers stopped spending on Twitter” in the days after the acquisition was completed.
It’s unclear exactly how many Twitter employees have been laid off or will be laid off. Before Musk’s acquisition, Twitter had about 7,500 employees. There have been reports in recent days that Twitter could lay off 25% to 50% of its staff, as Musk reviews how the platform is performing and tries to improve the bottom line after securing significant debt financing for the company. to finance its $44 billion acquisition.
An email sent Thursday evening informed employees that they would receive notification of their employment status by 12:00 p.m. Miami time on Friday.
“If this does not affect your employment, you will receive a notification via your Twitter email,” reads a copy of the email obtained by CNN. “If this affects your employment, you will receive a notification with next steps via your personal email.”
The email added that “to ensure the security” of Twitter’s employees and systems, the company’s offices “will be temporarily closed and access to all credentials will be suspended.”
The email concluded by acknowledging that it will be an “incredibly challenging experience” for the workforce.
Twitter has cut 15% of its trust and safety department
Twitter has laid off 15% of the company’s trust and safety team, leading to cuts in customer service but few changes in content moderation, according to the group’s head, Yoel Roth.
Roth said Friday night on Twitter Compared to the company’s overall headcount reduction of roughly 50%, the cuts to Twitter’s trust and security team were relatively small, “with our front-line moderation staff having the least impact.”
The information comes amid widespread criticism from civil rights groups, which said Friday that the cuts would threaten Twitter’s ability to enforce its election integrity policies and protect the democratic process.
The staffing changes forced Twitter to temporarily divert resources from responding to password reset requests and “some suspension appeals,” Roth acknowledged. But he added, “with early voting underway in the US, our election integrity efforts — including harmful misinformation that can suppress voting and combating state-sponsored information operations — remain a top priority.”
Roth, who was not among the employees laid off this week, the new owner of Twitter retweetedElon Musk, with some praise: “An excellent summary of Twitter’s trust and security by a team leader.”
“Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged,” Musk continued. “In fact, we’ve seen hate speech fall *below* our previous standards on occasion this week, contrary to what you may read in the press.”
Roth said Monday that Twitter spent the weekend responding to “an increase in hateful behavior” reported by many of the platform’s users, resulting in the removal of 1,500 accounts.
Employees sue Twitter after layoffs announced
Several Twitter employees filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday night alleging that Twitter is violating federal and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) laws after firing some employees.
The WARN Act requires an employer with more than 100 workers to provide 60 days’ written notice before a mass layoff “affecting 50 or more employees in a single workplace.”
“Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has made it clear that he finds compliance with federal labor laws ‘trivial,'” attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who filed the suit, said in a statement to CNN. “We filed this federal lawsuit to ensure that Twitter is held accountable to our laws and to prevent Twitter employees from unknowingly waiving their rights.”
For its part, the Employment Development Department (EDD) has not received a WARNING from Twitter at any point this year, even though a large number of Twitter employees have been fired from the company, the agency confirmed to CNN Friday afternoon.
However, the company can file notices in the next few days and keep the laid-off employees on the payroll for several weeks to avoid a violation.
Musk began his tenure at Twitter by firing CEO Parag Agrawal and two other executives, according to two people familiar with the decision.
And in less than a week since Musk bought the company, his C-suite appears to have been almost completely emptied, through a combination of layoffs and resignations. Musk also disbanded Twitter’s old board of directors.
On Friday, many staff members summed up their feelings with the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked, a pun on the past tense often used by Twitter employees.
– Clare Duffy, Brian Fung and Shawn Nottingham contributed to this report.