Elon Musk hits back at Twitter job cuts and week two blue checks

(Bloomberg) – Twitter Inc. is entering its second full working week under Elon Musk with half its workforce, mounting losses and some unexpected twists in its plans.

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The social media firm on Friday laid off nearly 3,700 people, shortly after joining dozens of employees it says were fired by mistake or too essential to the changes the billionaire businessman wants to bring.

Another of Musk’s key early goals – adding verification checkmarks for members of his monthly subscription service – is delayed until Wednesday to avoid potential chaos in the US midterm elections.

The whiplash events, as described by people familiar with the situation or in an internal company memo posted to Slack, follow Musk’s own acknowledgment in a tweet that the company he and its well-heeled partners bought for $44 billion loses $4 million a day.

Twitter downsized to cut costs after the Musk acquisition, which closed in late October. Many employees learned that they had lost their jobs after their access to company systems, such as email and Slack, was suddenly suspended. Employee feedback requests show how rushed and chaotic the process was.

A Twitter spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Twitter’s plan to rehire workers was previously flagged by Platformer.

“When it comes to reducing the strength of Twitter, unfortunately there is no other choice when the company is losing over $4 million a day,” Musk tweeted on Friday.

Some regions have been hit harder than others. The company laid off more than 90% of its staff in India over the weekend, severely depleting its engineering and product staff, people familiar with the matter said. The cuts left the company with a dozen employees in the growing market, they said.

Read more: Twitter lays off over 90% of Indian staff, leaving just a dozen

Meta Platforms Inc., which is also struggling to contain costs after investing heavily in its Metaverse project, could announce major job cuts this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the plans. Layoffs at the Facebook owner, which are expected to affect thousands of workers, could begin as early as Wednesday, the newspaper reported.

Twitter still has nearly 3,700 employees, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk is pushing those remaining in the company to move quickly in shipping new features, and in some cases employees have even slept in the office to meet new deadlines.

Twitter said it was rolling out new features to its Twitter Blue subscription plan, offering a verification tick for any user who pays the monthly fee. The company also said it will launch other features soon, including half the ads, the ability to post longer videos, and get priority rankings in replies, mentions, and searches.

Twitter will issue the new blue verification checkmarks to users who pay $7.99 per month for the service starting Nov. 9, according to an internal company message that was posted on Slack. The company had previously planned to roll out the subscription feature on November 7, the day before the election.

“Widespread verification will democratize journalism and empower the voice of the people,” Musk said in a Tweet.

The company has received internal and external comments that the verification process for its Twitter Blue program could be ripe for abuse, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified. This has raised concerns that candidates and other political actors could be impersonated on the site in the days leading up to the US election.

On Sunday night, Musk said Twitter would ban accounts impersonating others, after several high-profile users changed their names and photos to match the billionaire. Any name change will result in the temporary loss of a verified tick.

–With the help of Sankalp Phartiyal.

(Updates with Musk’s verification tweet in 13th paragraph)

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