Why Tons Of Twitter Employees Up And Quit All At Once

Twitter employees are leaving the company in droves following Elon Musk's ultimatum that asked workers to commit to a new "hardcore culture" or leave with 3 months of severance pay.

By Kari Apted | Published

Twitter’s employee bleed continued flowing on Thursday as the company responded to owner Elon Musk’s next-day ultimatum to decide whether to stay or to go. Musk was quoted as saying staff must be committed to an “extremely hardcore” work environment or they could leave the company. The fresh employee exodus was the latest in the chaos Twitter employees have been experiencing since Musk’s historic $44 billion purchase of the social media giant in late October.

Fleeing Twitter employees used the hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked as they tweeted about their departures. Hashtags were often accompanied by the saluting emoji, an inside-Twitter symbol of respect for those who are seeking other career paths in lieu of working under billionaire Musk. Employees who opted to go were given three months’ severance pay.

Musk’s Wednesday email was titled, “A Fork in the Road” and explained that Twitter employees must be exceptionally dedicated if they expected to succeed as the company progressed to its next chapter. He further stated that this dedication would require long, intense hours of work. He vowed to give the departing Twitter employees severance pay but required them to decide by Thursday afternoon.

The latest exodus followed Musk’s November 4 decision to lay off half of the company’s 7,500 full-time employees. He reportedly also cut thousands of independent contractors a few days later. Musk soon hit the headlines yet again when he fired several employees who publicly criticized him.

Some people, including a group of Democratic senators concerned enough to send a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, are afraid that the mass purge of Twitter employees is compromising the platform’s safety and integrity. Fears that have been vocalized so far include Twitter losing vital expertise in how the site and its servers are run. Others are worried that user data is at risk, and that the “new” Twitter will not comply with regulations governing toxic and illegal content.

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According to NewsGuard, which rates the reliability of online news sites, hate speech has already surged on Twitter. Accounts that repeatedly share false claims are getting more engagement. “The kinds of content they were spreading had disproportionately more misinformation than they usually had, and that is what leads to engagement,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Gordon Crovitz.

Musk’s decision to let users buy the once hard-to-obtain blue checks has also been a huge problem for Twitter employees and users. Blue checkmarks beside a username previously indicated that high-profile accounts had been verified to be who they claimed to be. After allowing users to buy blue checks for just $8, Twitter was flooded with accounts impersonating celebrities, companies and politicians.

The blue check rollout has been paused and Musk said it will resume after Thanksgiving, but with new  “guardrails” to cut down on fake accounts. Social media influencer and podcaster Oliver Campbell tweeted that there may be a method to the madness Musk has generated at the platform. He calls the process “whaling and culling” and explained how it can be a useful yet dramatic type of corporate restart.

Campbell’s thread explains that the first step is identifying the whales or the small percentage of hard workers who do the majority of the work. “Elon was looking for the whales at the company. The heavy hitting, actually producing and hard people who have been there for a while,” said Campbell. “When the whales don’t have to carry dead weight, they perform like the equivalent of 10 people.”

Then comes the culling, or removal of the Twitter employees whose underperformance dragged down the whales’ production. “…by culling unproductive staff, he [Musk] actually untied the hands of the PRODUCTIVE staff. Fewer obstacles to getting in the way of getting things done. It also revealed to him who was there to make Twitter a better product, versus who was there to be ‘activists’.”

The full thread provides more detailed information on how whaling and culling works, and Campbell says it’s not just Musk that uses this method that looks chaotic to those on the outside. “What’s going to surprise you is that a great number of businesses are run exactly like this. There’s a reason layoffs happen every single year across the world. Whaling and culling. Elon is just being VERY VOCAL.”