What just happened? Days after telling Twitter staff there were no more planned layoffs, Elon Musk fired around 50 engineers without notice the day before Thanksgiving. The company’s owner has also announced that a “general amnesty” for banned accounts will come into effect next week.
During an all-hands meeting at Twitter on Monday, Musk said there were no more layoffs “planned” at the firm. The CEO has already reduced its headcount from 7,500 people to around 2,300; most of these came from his initial culling that saw half of all staff let go, though many left after being given the choice of becoming part of “hardcore” Twitter or leaving with three months’ severance pay.
But there were more firings on Wednesday, reportedly the result of the company’s new code review program in which engineers are required to submit samples of their work each week. The Verge’s Alex Heath tweeted that they were being let go because their “code is not satisfactory.”
On Tuesday, Twitter’s remaining engineers were told they had to send “code samples” via email every week.
Engineers who were fired via email this evening are being offered 4 weeks of pay in exchange for signing a separation agreement and release of claims.
— Alex Heath (@alexeheath) November 24, 2022
Some of the survivors were warned that they could join the others who had lost their jobs. “Note that not meeting expectations could result in your termination of employment […] please use this opportunity to restore our confidence and demonstrate your contributions to the team and company,” the emails read.
The fired engineers were offered four weeks of pay if they signed a separation agreement and waived any claims against Twitter. Engadget writes that one of the engineers let go was Ikuhiro Ihara, who led the drive to double the tweet character limit to 280 in 2017.
In addition to the firings, Musk tweeted a poll asking if Twitter should offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts. His only rules were that they must not have broken the law or engaged in egregious spam. Over three million people took part, with 72.4% voting Yes.
Musk replied that the amnesty would begin next week. He added the same “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” phrase, Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God,” that he used after his followers voted to reinstate Donald Trump’s account last weekend.
The people have spoken.
Amnesty begins next week.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
Musk previously said he would create a diverse council to help moderate Twitter but later claimed “political/social activist groups” broke a “deal,” though plenty of people deny this.
Bringing back those who have been banned from Twitter is unlikely to ease the minds of advertisers, several of whom have already suspended ads on the platform over fears its toxic reputation is set to get even worse under Musk. But then its owner has constantly said he wants to rely more on income sources such as the new $8 per month Twitter Blue rather than advertising. Hopefully for Musk and the Twitter staff who are left, that warning of potential bankruptcy won’t turn into an actual scenario.