Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk says a “general amnesty” for banned accounts will start next week for those who “have not broken the law or engaged in gross spam.” He surveyed users on whether Twitter should offer the amnesty, seemingly overlooking the fact that such polls can easily be played by bots. More than 72 percent of the 3.2 million votes approved Musk’s amnesty proposal.
Musk reinstated Donald Trump’s account last weekend after a similar poll. Trump has yet to tweet after getting his account back, though he has continued to post on his own app, Truth Social. Late last week, Musk reinstated the accounts of comedian Kathy Griffin (who had teased Musk before her account was suspended), right-wing provocateur Jordan Peterson, and conservative satire website Babylonian Bee.
The latest twist in the Twitter saga comes a day after the company reportedly laid off another 50 or so technicians without notice. They were fired just after the company launched a code review program that asks engineers to submit samples of their work on a weekly basis. Dozens of engineers were fired by email the night before Thanksgiving because their “code wasn’t satisfactory,” it said The edgefrom Alex Heath.
Others were warned about their actions. “Please note that failure to meet expectations may result in termination of your employment…please take this opportunity to restore our confidence and demonstrate your contribution to the team and the company,” read that warning email.
The fired engineers reportedly were offered four weeks of severance pay if they sign a divorce agreement and waive any claims against Twitter. They had stayed with the company after Musk laid off about half of its staff. Last week, he asked the remaining employees to commit to working on his vision for an “extremely hardcore” Twitter 2.0. Those who resigned (about 1,200 of the 3,900 who still worked at the company early last week) were fired with the promise of three months’ severance pay.
The latest wave of layoffs came just two days after Musk allegedly told employees there were layoffs and that Twitter is hiring, with an emphasis on “people who are good at writing software.” One of Twitter’s engineers turned off on Wednesday is Ikuhiro Ihara, who led the drive to double the tweet character limit to 280 in 2017. Twitter also released Ying Xiao, a senior machine learning researcher who described a colleague Platformer‘s Zoë Schiffer as “the best ML modeller” out there. It seems that some of the laid off engineers had an H1B visa and now face a race to find a new job if they want to stay in the US.
Schiffer also reported that Twitter cut holiday pay for its remaining contractors just before a holiday weekend. That move came less than two weeks after the company cleared thousands of its contractors. Musk also reportedly cut employee perks this week, including childcare benefits, home internet costs, and training, effectively lowering employee compensation packages.
These measures are part of Musk’s intense drive to cut costs at Twitter, which owes at least $1 billion in annual interest payments on the loans he took out to help buy the company. It was reported earlier this week that Twitter has saddled vendors and contractors with payments, with some owing millions of dollars in delinquent payments. Twitter no longer has a communications department that can be reached for comment.