A photo illustration shows Elon Musk's twitter account and the Twitter logo

Musk ‘fired Twitter staff for criticising him’

Image credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

A number of Twitter staff have reportedly been fired for criticising Elon Musk on internal employee message boards.

As many as 20 employees have allegedly been told that their behaviour violated company policy and that their employment was being terminated immediately.

According to reports in the US, a number of staff using Slack - a messaging platform used officially by staff inside Twitter - had criticised or questioned some of Musk’s recent tweets about the Twitter app’s “slow” performance.

Earlier this week, a Twitter engineer who publicly disagreed with the billionaire’s tweets was said to have been laid off, with Musk later tweeting, “he’s fired”.

Musk even appeared to mock staff who had been fired, tweeting in reply to a link to the story: “I would like to apologise for firing these geniuses. Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere.”

Critics of the Tesla and SpaceX boss have suggested the removal of staff who disagree with his opinions contradicts his claim that he strongly supports free speech and wants to allow more of it on Twitter.

The latest incident continues a tumultuous first few weeks in charge for Mr Musk, who initially laid off half of Twitter’s workforce only to now be seeking to rehire some of those former employees in order to plug the inevitable staffing gaps.

The company’s attempt to introduce a new version of its 'Twitter Blue' subscription package – giving any user a verified blue tick badge if they paid $8 (£6.99) a month – has also been mired in confusion and controversy after it was launched, only to be pulled barely a day later. Thousands of parody and spoof accounts instantly appeared, purporting to be the verified accounts of famous people and brands and posting uncharacteristic content, essentially trolling Musk's idea. 

Safety experts have also raised concerns that giving a verified account badge to any account willing to pay for it will help bad actors spread misinformation. The Twitter boss has now said the relaunch of the Blue subscription has been pushed back until the end of the month “to make sure that it is rock solid”.

New grey 'Official' badges to identify authentic, verified accounts have also been rolled out, taken down and then launched again in recent days, further adding to the confusion around the platform’s future.

Musk has said that Twitter needs more subscriptions to boost revenue given the marked drop in advertising revenue, caused partly by Musk's takeover and subsequent actions, with big brands pausing their ad spend until the dust is seen to settle. Musk also told staff last week that the collapse of the company was not out of the question if changes were not made.

Last night, Musk tweeted about the apparent rehiring of two sacked Twitter employees, including a 'thumbs up' photo with the pair. Musk wrote: "Important to admit when I'm wrong & firing them was truly one of my biggest mistakes".

The job losses at Twitter have been mirrored at Meta and Amazon over the past week. Meta - the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - announced that it would be cutting 13 per cent of its global workforce, amounting to 11,000 jobs. Amazon's potential axing of 3 per cent of its corporate employees workers - 1 per cent of its total workforce - equates to 10,000 jobs lost. 

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