Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk is further wiping out the teams that battle misinformation on the social media platform as outsourced moderators learned over the weekend they were out of a job.
The social media giant fired its contractors that track hate and other harmful content on Saturday. Some of the contractors said they didn’t realize they were sacked until they weren’t able to log onto work on Saturday.
Musk’s move comes after Twitter fired much of its full-time workforce by email on November 4. About 4,400 of 5,500 contractors have been fired, according Reporter Casey Newton from Platformer News.
Melissa Ingle, who worked at Twitter as a contractor for more than a year, was one of a number of contractors who said they were terminated without notification on Saturday. She said she’s concerned that there’s going to be an increase in abuse on Twitter with the number of workers leaving.
‘I love the platform and I really enjoyed working at the company and trying to make it better. And I’m just really fearful of what’s going to slip through the cracks,’ she said.
Twitter contractors were fired on Saturday without warning as Elon Musk attempts to slash the company’s workforce
Some contractors said they had no idea they were fired until they were unable to log onto the company’s systems. Pictured: Twitter headquarters in San Francisco
Newton said that those employees impacted are involved in Twitter’s marketing, content moderation and real estate sectors.
‘Contractors aren’t being notified at all, they’re just losing access to Slack and email,’ Newton wrote on Twitter. ‘Managers figured it out when their workers just disappeared from the system. They heard nothing from their leaders.’
A Twitter manager wrote on the company’s Slack site that a contractor was working on a child safety workflow when they got locked out without warning, according to Newton.
One contractor said they learned they were fired from Newton’s tweets reporting the mass firing.
‘I just learned I was laid off by reading your tweets and then trying to log in on slack and email and realized it was all gone,’ the contractor wrote.
Reporter Casey Newton said that those employees impacted are involved in Twitter’s marketing, content moderation and real estate sectors
Newton said that some contractors weren’t being notified at all
One contractor said he didn’t realize he was fired until he read a breaking tweet from a reporter
Ingle, a data scientist, said she worked on the data and monitoring arm of Twitter’s civic integrity team. Her job involved writing algorithms to find political misinformation on the platform in countries such as the U.S., Brazil, Japan, Argentina and elsewhere.
Ingle said she was ‘pretty sure I was done for’ when she couldn’t access her work email Saturday. The notification from the contracting company she’d been hired by came two hours later.
‘I’ll just be putting my resumes out there and talking to people,’ she said. ‘I have two children. And I’m worried about being able to give them a nice Christmas, you know, and just mundane things like that, that are important. I just think it´s particularly heartless to do this at this time.’
Content-moderation expert Sarah Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, tweeted Sunday that around ‘3,000+ contractor employees of Twitter were canned last night.’
Twitter hasn’t said how many contract workers it cut. The company gutted its communications department and hasn’t responded to media requests for information since Musk took over.
Contractors also do other jobs to help keep Twitter running,
‘All contractors are not content moderation agents,’ Roberts said. ‘Contractors fulfill many key roles inside the company. But almost all moderation agents are contractors.’
The move by Musk comes after he fired a portion of Twitter employees by email on November 4
Musk recently tweeted: ‘Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works and change what doesn’t’
In the early days after Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October and dismissed its board of directors and top executives, the billionaire Tesla CEO sought to assure civil rights groups and advertisers that the platform could continue tamping down hate.
That message was reiterated by Twitter’s then-head of content moderation, Yoel Roth, who tweeted that the November 4 layoffs only affected ‘15% of our Trust & Safety organization (as opposed to approximately 50% cuts company-wide), with our front-line moderation staff experiencing the least impact.’
Roth has since resigned from the company, joining an exodus of high-level leaders who were tasked with privacy protection, cybersecurity and complying with regulations.
TIMELINE OF ELON MUSK’S CHAOTIC ATTEMPT TO TAKEOVER TWITTER April 2: Musk announces that he owns 9.2 percent of the company, making him its largest single shareholder
April 14: Musk offers to take Twitter private at $54.20 a share, valuing the company at $44billion
April 25: Twitter accepts Musk’s offer
April 29: Musk sells $8billion in Tesla shares to finance deal
May 13: Musk says Twitter deal is on hold pending a review of bot accounts
May 26: Musk is sued by Twitter for stock manipulation during takeover
July 8: Musk says he’s backing out of the deal. Twitter sues, trying to force him into seeing it through.
October 4: Musk proposes again to go ahead with the deal at the original price
October 17: Proposed trial date in Delaware
October 26: Musk visits Twitter HQ with a sink, updates his bio on the site to ‘Chief Twit’ and sets his location to Twitter HQ
October 27: Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter is finally completed
October 28: Musk fires top Twitter employees, including CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and top counsel Vijaya Gadde, the woman responsible for banning President Trump after the January 6 riots last year.
October 30: Twitter employees are told by Musk to make verified accounts a feature that’s exclusive to Twitter Blue, the platform’s paid subscription service
October 31: Musk confirms he’s the new CEO of Twitter and dissolves the board of directors