Elon Musk is firing Twitter employees who dare criticize or correct him

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Elon Musk

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk fancies himself a free speech absolutist; its one of the reasons he says he bought Twitter!

However, as Twitter’s employees are finding out, those beliefs in free speech don’t seem to extend to those working for him.

Over the past day, Musk has fired a number of employees for correcting his public tweets or criticizing his leadership in the company’s Slack channels.

And on Tuesday, Musk went even further by publicly reveling in their dismissals. The owner of Twitter described one fired employee as “a tragic case of adult onset Tourette’s” in a reply to a tweet from @LibsofTikTok, an account run by a right-wing influencer whose anti-LGBTQ messaging was recently blamed for threats being sent to children’s hospitals.

“I would like to apologize for firing these geniuses,” Musk also sarcastically tweeted about his former employees. “Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere.”

These most recent issues began after Musk fired off the following tweet criticizing Twitter and the work his employees had done.

“Btw, I’d like to apologize for Twitter being super slow in many countries,” Musk posted. “App is doing >1000 poorly batched RPCs just to render a home timeline!”

Longtime Twitter engineers soon called out Musk, claiming the information he provided was false.

“I have spent ~6yrs working on Twitter for Android and can say this is wrong,” software engineer Eric Frohnhoefer tweeted, including Musk’s comment as a quote tweet.

“Then please correct me. What is the right number?,” replied Musk. “Twitter is super slow on Android. What have you done to fix that?”

In response, Frohnhoefer actually tweeted a lengthy and thought-out response to Musk explaining the issue and what could be done.

When another Twitter user recommended that Frohnhoefer message Musk privately, the engineer pointed out that Musk was the one who first publicly criticized his own employees.

Soon after, another Twitter user, @langdon, tagged Elon Musk on Twitter so he could see Frohnhoefer’s tweets that weren’t directed at Musk. Musk responded in a now-deleted tweet:

Elon Musk fires employee

A since-deleted tweet from Elon Musk.
Credit: Mashable screenshot

“He’s fired,” Musk said, referring to Frohnhoefe.

The developer acknowledged Musk’s tweet and then shared that Twitter had officially locked him out of the company laptop.

In a message with Forbes, Frohnhoefe confirmed the events and stated that Twitter has yet to formally dismiss him from the company.

“They’re all a bunch of cowards,” he said.

It’s unclear just how many employees have been fired for daring to talk back to the boss, but Frohnhoefe is far from the only one. As of publishing time, multiple now-former Twitter employees shared that they were let go due to corrections or criticisms of the boss either in their tweets or in Slack messages.

Software engineer Sasha Solomon also responded to that tweet from Musk.

“You did not just layoff almost all of infra and then make some sassy remark about how we do batching like did you bother to even learn how graphql works,” Solomon posted. “You don’t get to shit on our infra if you don’t know what the fuck it does while you’re also scrambling to rehire folks you laid off.”

Solomon later announced that she was fired as well.

Now-former Twitter employee Jesse Feinman said that he was fired after asking “silly questions,” like if his co-workers who corrected Musk’s “poorly batched RCPs” tweet were getting fired, in one of the company’s Slack channels

Mashable found four other Twitter employees who also announced that they were fired.

One additional software engineer who replied to Musk’s tweet has not yet publicly shared their dismissal, but their LinkedIn was updated to show they were no longer with the company.

These firings aren’t the first time Musk has displayed hypocrisy when it comes to “free speech.” In fact, this very thing has happened before at a different Musk company when he fired SpaceX employees who criticized him. Musk fans may defend him by saying the Twitter employees acted “unprofessional” but Musk, the captain steering the ship, has fostered this very culture. He was the one who publicly blasted their work to begin with.

Mass layoffs just occurred less than two weeks ago under Musk, with thousands of employees losing their jobs. Musk laid off so many workers from the company that Twitter eventually had to reach back out to some of them and ask that they return to the company. Some of the employees Musk initially fired were working on features crucial to Musk’s own plans for the platform.

Over the weekend, Twitter fired even more workers after the company abruptly cut ties with thousands of contractors.

These layoffs and firings have occurred as Twitter bleeds advertising revenue as a result of brands pausing campaigns on the platform as a result of Musk’s takeover. Twitter has also temporarily paused new subscriptions for Musk’s $8 Twitter Blue subscription as fake accounts impersonating brands filled the platform. 

In addition to all that, Twitter users have reported being locked out of their accounts after Musk announced the company was shutting off “microservice bloatware” which he claimed weren’t needed for Twitter to work.

It appears in the midst of shutting down such services, Twitter also turned off the system which enabled two-factor authentication.

Many of the now-former Twitter employees seemed content to no longer be working under Musk. With the chaos currently reigning there, it’s not hard to see why. And most of them appear to be engineers or software developers, meaning they may not have much trouble finding a new job in tech.

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