Daily Management Review

Musk Blames Activists For Twitter's "Massive" Drop In Ad Revenue While The Company Makes Staff Cuts


Musk Blames Activists For Twitter's "Massive" Drop In Ad Revenue While The Company Makes Staff Cuts
As advertisers withdrew their support due to worries about content moderation, Twitter Inc. cut half of its workforce on Friday, but claimed that the team in charge of halting the spread of misinformation suffered fewer cuts.
The social media company's employees claimed in tweets that some product and engineering teams, as well as teams in charge of communications, content curation, human rights, and machine learning ethics, had been eliminated.
Elon Musk, the richest man in the world and the company's new owner, tweeted on Friday that the service was experiencing a "massive drop in revenue" as a result of the advertiser retreat. The move ends a week of chaos and ambiguity about the company's future.
Musk put the blame for the losses on a coalition of civil rights organizations that had been putting pressure on Twitter's top advertisers to take action if he did not defend content moderation - worries that were amplified ahead of Tuesday's potentially crucial congressional elections.
Following the layoffs, the groups claimed they were stepping up their demands and demanding brands globally pull their Twitter advertisements.
"Unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day," Musk tweeted of the layoffs, adding that everyone affected was offered three months of severance pay.
Until late in the day, when head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth tweeted confirmation of internal plans seen by Reuters earlier in the week, the company kept quiet about the extent of the cuts, projecting that about 3,700 people, or 50% of the staff, would be affected.
According to documents submitted to California's employment authority, 784 employees from the company's San Francisco headquarters and 199 from San Jose and Los Angeles were among those fired.
The company's "core moderation capabilities" were not affected by the reductions, according to Roth, who said that about 15% of his team—which is in charge of stopping the spread of false information and other harmful content—was affected.
Musk supported the safety executive last week, praising his "high integrity" in response to Roth's criticism of the late President Donald Trump in tweets from years prior.
Musk has pledged to protect Twitter from becoming a "hellscape" while restoring free speech.
On Friday, President Joe Biden claimed that Musk had bought Twitter, a social media site that spreads lies all over the world.
"And now what are we all worried about: Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that sends - that spews lies all across the world... There’s no editors anymore in America. There’s no editors. How do we expect kids to be able to understand what is at stake?"

For months, top advertisers have expressed concern about Musk's takeover.
While they awaited information about Twitter's new direction, brands like General Motors Co and General Mills Inc have stated they have stopped advertising on the social media platform.
In a tweet, Musk claimed that his team had done "everything we could" to placate the groups while making no changes to content moderation. Musk described the activist pressure as "an attack on the First Amendment" while speaking at an investors' conference in New York on Friday.
There were no comments from Twitter on the issue.
The first communication from Twitter's leadership after Musk became CEO last week was an email informing employees of layoffs. It was not signed by Musk or any other executives; only "Twitter" was listed as the signatory.
Before receiving an official layoff notice on Friday morning, dozens of staff members tweeted that they had lost access to their work email and Slack channels. This sparked an outpouring of sympathy from both current and former employees on the platform they had helped to create.
They used the hashtags #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked, the past tense of a phrase staff members had long used to celebrate the workplace's culture, to share blue hearts and salute emojis to show support for one another.
Employees at Twitter reported that the curation team, which was in charge of "highlighting and contextualizing the best events and stories that unfold on Twitter," had been fired.
Twitter's acting head of human rights, an attorney named Shannon Raj Singh, tweeted that the entire department had been fired.
According to a tweet from a former senior manager at Twitter, another team that concentrated on research into how Twitter used machine learning and algorithms, a topic that was important to Musk, was also eliminated.
On Friday, senior executives bid farewell on Twitter, including vice president of engineering Arnaud Weber, writing: "Twitter still has a lot of unlocked potential but I'm proud of what we accomplished."
Additionally laid off were staff members of Twitter Blue, the premium subscription service Musk is promoting. A previous tweet by Musk stating that Twitter Blue would include "paywall bypass" for specific publishers was quote-tweeted by an employee with the handle "SillyRobin" who had previously indicated they were laid off.
"Just to be clear, he fired the team working on this," the employee said.