Until just a few days ago, Natalia had a job that allowed her to reconcile her work and family life. Although she was stressful at times, she was proud of what she did with her team. But on November 4, everything collapsed: an email informed her that she could no longer access the system. Shortly after she learned that, like thousands of other employees, Twitter had dispensed with her services. This was decided by the newcomer Elon Musk, the eccentric tycoon who bought the social network at the beginning of October for 44,000 million dollars after several months of legal disputes and who justified the layoffs due to the drop in income.
Elon Musk decrees “general amnesty” for Twitter users expelled for hate or harassment
“Although in some way we expected it, there were very hard moments, with a lot of uncertainty, because we did not know what was going to happen once Musk arrived,” Natalia -fictitious name- tells elDiario.es, who denounces the way in which Twitter has laid off its employees in different countries around the world. “Since we did not have access to our work tools, we could not communicate with colleagues from other countries, we did not know who had been fired, who was staying or which areas were affected. It was all very confusing,” she explains. “We did not know the exact conditions, nobody told us what rights we had and that is something that they must inform you of when they fire you,” she laments. What they did have to do was sign a document in which they promised not to reveal information about the company.
Although in the United States it is legal – and common in large companies – to communicate a dismissal via email, in other countries it is not valid and, therefore, it would be inappropriate. In the case of Spain, where the company fired 26 workers, the majority unions have already denounced that they are null dismissals.
The new owner of Twitter has not only fired half of the employees – more than 3,700 people – but also more than 3,000 outsourced moderators. He has even fired several engineers for the simple fact of going against him on the social network. And to this we must add that hundreds of workers have chosen to resign after Musk’s ultimatum in which he urged his employees to work harder or leave the company.
Natalia confesses that, despite the company’s ways, when she finally received the dismissal confirmation email, she felt relief, given the drift that the social network was taking. “I felt a bit frustrated by the projects that were left unfinished, but at the same time grateful because in those days we were already beginning to glimpse what Twitter 2.0 would be. [el que quiere construir Musk]. It is undoubtedly a contradictory feeling: on the one hand liberation and on the other nostalgia for everything that was and gave me Twitter 1.0 ”, she maintains.
Twitter 2.0: the new era under Musk’s rule
That Twitter 2.0 is the revolution announced by the also founder of Tesla and Space X, a work culture that demands long hours and great dedication from employees. In this new era of the social network, Musk has banned telecommuting, wants to include encrypted voice and video calls, and has given programmers a central role. “At heart, Twitter is a software and server company, so I think it makes sense,” said the controversial billionaire, who often boasts of having slept in the offices of some of his companies and has been against the union organization.
Until Musk’s entry, Twitter stood out within the big technology sector for the optimal working conditions it offered, and Natalia corroborates this. “The Twitter 1.0 work culture was different. It was understood that if a person is burnt out by her work, it was more of a danger to productivity than someone creative, ”she clarifies. “Before being employed we are human beings and, as such, we have needs. The work culture of Twitter 1.0 advocated productive work in optimal conditions, that is, during your day, not when you sleep or go to the dentist or spend time with your family, ”she adds.
Musk, who entered the Twitter headquarters with a sink in his hands, implying that his idea was to “clean up” the company, believes that remote work is not productive and has already asked employees of the platform to send weekly updates on the projects they are working on and what their goals are. Natalia, for her part, assures that she has a very clear conscience and that both she and her colleagues have given “150% of her effort and capacity” during their working days. “And if someone couldn’t for a reason of force majeure, we knew that the other was there to support us,” she recalls.
That work culture, he explains, was the one inherited from the Twitter offices in the United Kingdom since 2013 after the case of Lucy Mosley, a social network worker who died of cancer. When she was admitted to the hospital, her colleagues knitted a blanket for her and she thanked him. with the hastag #LoveWhereYouWorka phrase that has been used precisely in recent weeks by many Twitter employees after being fired.
Musk has also stated that his goal is turn Twitter into “the most accurate source of information about the world”. However, it has fired the employees who were in charge of making the content more trustworthy and transparent. It was the mission of team of curators, responsible for providing context to the topics that were trending on the social network, clarifying concepts or denying hoaxes, or the artificial intelligence ethics team, in charge of eliminating and preventing biases. Both have disappeared and that makes the social network a less transparent and more toxic place.
Musk has focused his cuts on teams whose goal was to clean up the user experience. The disappearance of the curation department, for example, means that there is now outdated information, leading to less accurate content, as another former worker explained a few days ago in your profile. This team was in charge of explaining from a meme to breaking news or why a topic was a trend on Twitter, as well as highlighting events and stories that were taking place on the social network with the aim of making them better understood –as they themselves pointed from their website – the global conversations that take place.
Without containment areas, the quality of certain coverage will be worse, which may even affect democracy itself
Twitter worker fired by Musk
The curators also disproved misleading information through reliable and public sources, including, they say, “testimony from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open source intelligence, or journalists, among others.” Today there is no one on the platform in charge of this work, so the companies specialized in manipulating the conversation from the outside do not have any parapet from within.
In this sense, Natalia is clear that “without containment areas, the quality of certain coverage is going to be worse, which can even affect democracy itself,” she says. “It has an impact especially when it comes to dealing with polarized issues such as elections or a Soccer World Cup in a country as complex as Qatar. Without this type of equipment, Twitter becomes less transparent”, insists this former worker.
The tycoon of South African origin also fired the Human Rights team. It has been of little use that organizations such as Amnesty International have ruled on the matter or that even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, sent a letter to Musk in which he urged him to “guarantee that human rights are a central element” in his new administration.
Brussels warns Musk that Twitter needs more resources
The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has also spoken about this lack of personnel in the social network, who this Wednesday asked Musk that the company allocate “sufficient human resources” to comply with the new European Union rules on control of contents.
“Twitter will need to implement policies that are transparent to users, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect free speech, tackle misinformation resolutely, and limit targeted advertising. All this requires sufficient AI (artificial intelligence) and human resources, ”said Breton after a videoconference conversation that he had with the tycoon, reports Andres Gil.
Despite everything, at least for now, the social network continues to work. What’s more, one of the latest decisions Musk has made is to sign George Hotz, the young man who became famous for hacking the iPhone or Play Station 3 for the first time. Hotz, that you will actually work 12 weeks as an intern, will aim to improve the platform’s search engines.
Another of Musk’s controversial decisions has been to return the accounts to former US President Donald Trump or the rapper ‘Ye’, formerly known as Kanye West, while he has considered restoring other accounts that had been suspended. The billionaire had promised to create a council of experts to assess those decisions, but he has buried that idea. Now he is the only voice in command.