Death is in the air on Twitter.
On Thursday evening, #RIPTwitter was the top trending platform worldwide, with users writing what they feared might be their last posts, offering eerie goodbyes and listing other (more stable) social media platforms that could still be found.
They reacted to the terrible news from within Twitter. Many of the remaining employees at the social media company rejected owner Elon Musk’s ultimatum to work “extremely hard” on Thursday, throwing the communications platform into utter disarray and raising serious questions about how long it will survive.
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Given how integral the platform is to global communications, the death of Twitter will have serious consequences. The platform is often compared to a digital town square. World leaders use Twitter to communicate, journalists use Twitter to gather news, dissidents in repressive countries use Twitter to organize, celebrities and big brands use Twitter to make important announcements, and the public often uses Twitter to watch all of this in real time. uses.
If the platform were to go down or become unusable due to instability issues, no venue could immediately replace it, and communications could break across multiple social media sites, causing seismic disruption and slow data flow.
Within the company’s Slack, the mass resignation actually happened after Musk’s 5 p.m. deadline for employees to come to a decision. Hundreds of workers have apparently accepted Musk’s offer to quit in exchange for three months’ layoff, calling for his resignation.
Employees filled the #social-watercooler channel with a hello emoji, indicating they chose not to sign Musk’s pledge. Earlier this month, similar events took place in the Slack channel, as Musk laid off about 50% of the company’s then-7,500-person workforce.
A former Twitter executive who recently left the company described the situation as a “mass exodus.” Asked about the situation, a former executive said: “Elon is learning that it can’t hurt top talent. They have many options and will not tolerate his tricks.”
“They’re just going to struggle to keep the lights on,” the former executive said.
That assessment was universally shared by half a dozen other current and former employees on Thursday. Things have been pretty bad since Musk made massive layoffs at the company earlier this month. So bad that Twitter asked some of the people it dropped to come back after a few days. Since then, the state of play has only gotten worse.
In fact, Twitter management was in panic mode in the hours before the deadline, with people familiar with the matter explaining that senior leaders were “trying” to convince talent to stay at the company.
Musk himself finally seemed to realize the dire state of affairs, sending an email to all staff relaxing his previously uncompromising anti-remote work stance. “When it comes to remote work, the only requirement for approval is that your manager is responsible for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” Musk said in an email.
It seemed that it was not very good.
The two employees who decided to reject Musk’s ultimatum on Thursday made it clear why they did so. “I don’t want to stick around to create a product that’s poisoned inside and out,” he said, later adding that he felt good about making the decision “in line with what I stand for.”
“People don’t want to sacrifice their mental health and family life to make the richest man in the world richer,” said one recently fired employee who remains in touch with former colleagues.
And Twitter realized the mess it had on its hands late Thursday, sending out an email to employees telling them it was once again closing all of its offices and suspending access to employee badges, presumably to protect their systems and data.
Twitter’s now-defunct communications department did not respond to requests for comment. But Musk nodded in a tweet.
“How do you make a small fortune on social media?” Musk asked. “Start with a big one.”