Death is in the air on Twitter.
On Thursday night on the platform, where #RIPTwitter was trending globally, users wrote what they feared would be their last posts, bidding worried goodbyes and listing other (more stable) social media platforms where they can yet to be found.
They were reacting to terrible news from inside Twitter. On Thursday, dozens of the social media company’s remaining employees appeared to reject owner Elon Musk’s ultimatum to work “extremely hard”, throwing the communications platform into utter disarray and raising serious questions about how long of his survival.
A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. Sign up here to receive the daily digest chronicling the changing media landscape.
The death of Twitter would have far-reaching consequences, given how integral the platform is to global communications. The platform has often been compared to a digital public square. World leaders use Twitter to communicate, journalists use Twitter to gather information, dissidents in repressive countries use Twitter to organize, celebrities and big brands use Twitter to make important announcements, and the public often uses Twitter to monitor everything in real time.
If the platform were to disappear or become unusable due to instability issues, there would be no space to immediately replace it and communications could fracture across multiple social media websites, resulting in seismic disruption and slowed information flow. .
Inside the company’s Slack, a massive resignation did indeed occur after Musk’s 5 p.m. deadline for employees to come to an adopted decision. Hundreds of employees appear to have quit, accepting Musk’s offer to leave in exchange for three months of layoff.
Employees flooded the “#social-watercooler” channel with the hi emoji, indicating that they had opted out of signing Musk’s pledge. A similar series of events unfolded on the Slack channel earlier this month as Musk killed around 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees at the time.
A former Twitter executive who recently left the company described the situation as a “mass exodus”. Asked about the situation, the former manager said: “Elon finds he can’t bully top talent. They have a lot of options and won’t put up with his antics.
“They will have a hard time keeping the lights on,” the former executive added.
That assessment was universally shared by the other half-dozen current and former employees on Thursday. It was bad enough after Musk executed massive layoffs at the company earlier this month. So bad that Twitter asked some of the people it fired to come back a few days later. The situation has only worsened since then.
In fact, Twitter management was in panic mode hours before the deadline expired, people familiar with the matter said, explaining that senior executives were “jostling” to convince talent to stay with the company.
Musk himself seemed to finally realize the grim situation, emailing all staff relaxing his previously uncompromising anti-distance work stance. “When it comes to remote work, all that’s required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for making sure you’re making a great contribution,” Musk said in the email.
It didn’t seem to do much good.
Two employees who decided to reject Musk’s ultimatum on Thursday made it clear why they were doing so. “I don’t want to stick around to build a product that’s poisoned inside and out,” one said, later adding that it felt good to make a decision “in line with what I stand for”.
A recently laid off employee who keeps in touch with former colleagues said: “People don’t want to sacrifice their sanity and family life to make the richest man in the world even richer.”
And Twitter appeared to grab the mess on its hands Thursday night, sending an email to staff informing them that it has again closed all of its offices and suspended access to employee badges, presumably to protect its systems and data.
Twitter’s already decimated communications service did not respond to requests for comment. But Musk nodded to the situation in a tweet.
“How do you make a small fortune in social media? » Musk asked. “Start big.”
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