Nov 12, 2022 - Technology

Elon Musk culls Twitter contractors after mass employee layoffs

Illustration of a heartbeat line creating a partial twitter logo in between beats

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

After laying off half its staff earlier this month, Twitter on Saturday started culling its vast ranks of contract staff, sources confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Like many companies, Twitter's staff is made up of a mix of full-time employees as well as contract workers who work for a third party.

Details: Twitter has cut an unspecified number of contractors in various fields, including content moderation, sources confirmed to Axios.

  • Many contractors' status has been in limbo since Twitter cut half its staff earlier this month, with some not knowing whom to even report to, since their counterparts inside the company have been laid off.
  • Now some worry about their final paychecks since their teams no longer have any full-time Twitter employees to sign off on their time cards, sources tell Axios.
  • The contractor cuts were noted earlier Saturday by Platformer's Casey Newton.

Between the lines: In at least some cases, if not all, workers did not get any direct communication from Twitter saying that their work had ended.

  • They instead found out by seeing their access to Twitter computer systems had been shut off.
  • This parallels the scene when full-time employees found out they had lost their job, not from a promised e-mail on Friday, but overnight on Thursday as they lost access to e-mail and other corporate computing systems.
  • Twitter has since reached out to re-hire some full-time employees after realizing their skills were critical to existing projects, including new features that were a priority to the company.
  • Some contractors, meanwhile, are concerned about getting paid for the last two weeks as a number of contractors ended up on teams with no full-time Twitter employees, leaving no one to sign off on their time cards, sources tell Axios.

The big picture: Twitter has been in a state of turmoil since Elon Musk took over, with products and features launched then pulled.

  • That includes a new version of its Twitter Blue subscription service that allows subscribers to have the same blue checkmark given to verified accounts of politicians, journalists, government agencies and celebrities.
  • Twitter put that on hold earlier this week after a flood of impersonators used the subscription service to impersonate various brands and prominent athletes and politicians.

What they're saying: Melissa Ingle, a San Francisco-based content moderation contractor specializing in political misinformation, was among those cut.

  • Ingle, who has two master's degrees and teaches data science skills, said she was surprised by the move, and concerned about providing for her family with the holidays approaching.
  • "I am the person you want at your company," she told Axios. "This is no way to treat people."
  • Twitter has cut its entire communications staff and there was no immediate response to an e-mail to the company's press account.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional detail about contractors' concerns.

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