A week after billionaire Elon Musk took over the social media platform, Twitter temporarily closed its offices on Friday, barring employees from accessing its internal systems.
The layoffs, which could result in the layoffs of up to half of Twitter's 7,500 employees, came when Musk revealed that brands began pulling back advertising, resulting in a "significant drop in sales".
Audi, General Motors, General Mills, and Pfizer are among the companies that have paused spending on services amid growing concerns about Musk's administration.
Some employees woke up on Friday to find they were locked out of their laptops and had their access to company Gmail and Slack revoked. Chris Yuney, who works at Twitter for Entertainment Partnerships in the UK, tweeted: "Well that doesn't look promising...."
According to The Guardian, one employee informed that the platform was unable to "function normally" on Friday because so many employees were locked out of their employee accounts.
Musk blamed “activist groups pressuring advertisers” for the drop in sales, but the trend appears to have started with advertisers themselves. He argued that content moderation hasn't changed anything, accusing activists of trying to “trying to destroy free speech in America."
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
Twitter's curation team plays a key role in covering 'civic integrity' events such as elections, breaking news, and sports. Internally, it's considered an important filter for misleading posts.
"The platform is likely to become more toxic with less healthy information to counter the disinformation or misinformation narratives,"said the employee, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. Twitter's policy on misleading content includes flagging controversial posts or flagging contextual information along with such posts.
Employees were notified of the next cuts by email on Thursday. "In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce," the email reads.
Some Twitter employees said they lost access to their email and Slack accounts. The company says employees will be able to see if they've been laid off by 9 a.m. Pacific time.
"Looks like I’m unemployed y’all. Loved you all so much. So sad it had to end this way," tweeted one former Twitter employee.