Elon Musk Fires Twitter Employees For Slack Criticism, Proceeds To Mock Them

Elon Musk's Twitter firing spree doesn't seem to be slowing down. The world's richest man started his spell as the owner of the social media platform by firing several prominent board members, then followed up by laying off over half of the company's staff in an attempt to cut costs. Entire departments were dismantled, and some firings may have been premature, reportedly leading to the company desperately asking former staff responsible for key projects to come back to their jobs. 

Other staff members simply chose to leave, including the company's chief privacy officer, chief compliance officer, and chief information security officer — which may leave Musk's latest venture more vulnerable to scrutiny from the FTC. Some of the layoffs were also quite surprising. Yoel Roth, who was responsible for Trust and Safety at the company, spearheaded efforts to reduce the trolling and hate speech that spiked following Musk's takeover of Twitter. Musk retweeted, quoted, and replied to Roth several times, which made his resignation all the more surprising.

Rumors also circulated that the staff who survived the mass layoffs were being forced to hit tight deadlines or risk losing their jobs, as well. Perks former CEO Jack Dorsey introduced to improve his employees' quality of life, like working from home and "days of rest,” were scrapped. Staff was also forced to adopt "24/7 schedules" while working on projects like Twitter's controversial blue checkmark changes. As you might expect, many of Twitter's staff members aren't too happy with how their situation has changed since Musk took charge. Some have used the company's Slack channels to criticize the changes, while others have used Twitter itself to highlight their disapproval. From a job security standpoint, this might not have been the best idea.

One employee was very publicly fired on Twitter

Recently, one of Twitter's Android developers was fired after engaging in a public debate with Musk about the platform's app. Eric Frohnhoefer, who claims to have spent six years working on the Android version of the app, quote-tweeted Musk's apology for the slowness of the app in some locations. Zoning in on Musk's claim that the app's slow speeds were caused by "poorly batched RPCs," Frohnhoefer described the CEO's assessment as "wrong." This resulted in a response from Musk that snowballed into a debate. 

When questioned, Frohnhoefer listed some things he had done during his time at Twitter to improve the app's performance and highlighted where he believed the problems were. Eventually, someone responded to one of Frohnhoefer's tweets stating that they wouldn't have someone with that attitude on their team. Musk responded in a now-deleted tweet that simply said "he's fired." It seemed to be around a day before Frohnhoefer's firing was made official.

The now-former developer posted a picture of the lock screen on his company Mac and claimed his access code was no longer working. This is similar to the images some employees posted during Twitter's mass layoffs earlier this month. The developer doesn't seem too concerned about the firing and has received invitations to apply for similar positions at companies like Uber, Square, and Reddit. However, other employees who seem to have suffered a similar fate for similar reasons may not be so lucky.

More employees have been terminated for speaking out against Musk

Some employees chose to voice their displeasure at the current state of Twitter more privately — opting to use the company's Slack channel instead. One former Twitter backend developer, who uses the Twitter handle @SkilledRick, claims his Twitter account was private and believes his dismissal was down to the messages he posted in the company's Slack chat. The way the tweet is phrased also makes it seem like the messages he posted weren't even particularly critical of Musk or his actions. While tweeting a picture of his dismissal email, @skilledrick wrote: "My twitter account was protected at the time, so I can only assume this was for not showing 100% loyalty in slack. I've heard the same thing has happened to many others now."

Another apparent ex-Twitter employee, Yao Yue, was fired after what he described as "three weeks of chaos." The now-former code aesthetics officer is apparently "relieved to be gone" and has "stories to tell" about his time at the company. Writer Gergely Orosz claims to have heard of at least 10 employees who were fired in a similar way to @skilledrick: after discussing Musk's tweet less than favorably in Twitter's private slack channel. He also claims two other developers were dismissed in a similar way to Eric Frohnhoefer after quote-tweeting Musk and contradicting his claims in a similar way. Musk, as he does with most things, seems to be making light of the firings.

Musk is making fun of his ex-employees

Musk is known for making light of serious situations by posting memes and cracking jokes on his Twitter. Apparently, this response doesn't just apply to lawsuits and federal investigations. Musk responded to screenshots of an expletive-laden batch of screenshots showing a former employee quote tweeting him, criticizing the layoffs, and then responding to her subsequent firing. Referencing the colorful choice of language the former employee used, Musk tweeted: "A tragic case of adult onset Tourette's." Musk also responded to a tweet accusing him of firing multiple employees for posting messages critical of both him and the platform on Slack with a faux apology which read: "I would like to apologize for firing these geniuses. Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere."

Despite his recent crackdown on parody accounts, Musk has also responded to a tweet from Founders Fund vice president Mike Solana in which Solana pretends to be a disgruntled laid-off employee who put in a decade of "relentless work adding an additional 140 characters to tweets," only to be fired for calling Musk a very nasty name. Musk responded with "The injustice of it all," though some accounts seem to have taken the tweet seriously and may have proved Musk's point about the need for parodies to be clearly marked. 

We're not even three weeks into Musk's takeover of the platform, and the situation can fairly be described as "chaotic." The firings, rule changes, and strange demands seem to be far from over, and nobody really knows what the situation will be like in a week's time, never mind long term. As far as predictions from people who are in the know go, Musk did mention there is a possibility the platform could go bankrupt at some point next year.