Elon Musk publicly clashed over the status of Twitter with a growing number of employees and fired at least one of them in his tweets. This is an unusually visible sign that corporate chaos has erupted after his $44 billion purchase of the influential company.
Musk and Eric Frohnhoefer, a software engineer on Twitter, got into a Twitter dispute Monday. Frohnhoefer confirmed that he had lost access to Twitter’s internal systems after Musk tweeted “he’s fired”. Frohnhoefer posted evidence that suggested that Musk was wrong about claims that Twitter was, in Musk’s words “super slow” in different countries.
Frohnhoefer stated Monday night that he learned about Musk’s firing from a friend. He also said that no one reached out to him via Twitter.
According to a tweet from that employee, at least one other employee who offered context on the topic had also been fired by them. A few other Twitter employees also stated Tuesday that they were fired from an email saying their “behavior had violated company policy.” Some speculate that this was in response to comments made on internal Slack channels. Sources indicate that Musk was criticized by employees recently in Slack.
Musk responded to a Tuesday tweet about the firings, saying, “I would love to apologize for firing these geniuses.” Their incredible talent will no doubt prove to be of great value elsewhere.”
These firings follow Musk’s decision to sack half of Twitter’s staff and many of its contractors. This was a move that many critics called slop and could pose a threat to the platform. Musk’s retribution to those who disagree with him comes as he consolidates his control over Twitter by removing its top executives and eliminating its board.
Musk now runs Twitter in their absence with the help of Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, his lawyer Alex Spiro, and engineers on loan from other companies including Tesla (TSLA). Some Twitter employees appear to have attempted to reach Musk and his circle privately while they consider a variety of disruptive changes to the platform.
According to an internal document, employees raised concerns about Musk and other executives regarding the potential fallout from Twitter’s new $8 per month paid verification service. This document was dated November 1, and it is accurate in its predictions. It contains a list of recommendations on how to avoid the worst possible consequences of a subscription that allows anyone to pay $8 for a verified check mark.
“Legacy Verification is a crucial signal in enforcing the impersonation rules. The loss of which will likely lead to an increase of impersonation of high profile accounts on Twitter” states the document. It also mentions that trust could be lost among high-profile users. There are also concerns that the service could lead to a “pay-to-play” system where key voices, including those in sanctioned nations (including activists and dissenters), could be removed.
Esther Crawford is a Twitter product manager and was briefed about the document before last week’s rollout of the paid verification option. A source also said that Musk and Alex Spiro were briefed. Platformer, a digital news outlet, was the first to publish details about the document.
Twitter experienced a wave of celebrity and corporate impersonators within hours of its paid verification system being launched last week. This could have caused uncertainty for advertisers who account for almost all of Twitter’s business. On Friday, the paid subscription service was abruptly suspended. The company did not immediately indicate when they might reinstate the service.
Despite the firings of employees for speaking out, some people continued to speak out publicly despite these apparent firings. Musk posted a graph claiming to show a slight increase in Twitter’s daily active users. A data scientist from the company responded that the chart was flawed. A user asked Musk if he was safe. The staffer responded that he would never catch him.