Twitter employees speak out about Elon Musk
Reaction among current and former Twitter employees to news that the firm may be acquired by Elon Musk has been mixed.
For some, like Ned Miles, Monday turned out to be “another extremely normal day working at this extremely normal company”.
He tweeted: “Can someone just tell me if I’m rich or fired please?”
Can someone just tell me if I’m rich or fired please
— Ned Miles (@nedmiles) April 25, 2022
Twitter’s board has endorsed Mr Musk’s acquisition of the company, and while others have kept their counsel, its most senior member lent the deal his support.
Jack Dorsey, the platform’s co-founder, tweeted: “Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.”
Others did not share Mr Dorsey’s confidence in the Tesla and SpaceX founder’s ability to take Twitter to a higher plane.
Bruce Daisley was at one point Twitter’s most senior employee outside the US, in his role of vice-president across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Speaking to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2, he questioned Mr Musk’s idea that a renewed focus on free speech would prove popular.
He said Twitter had at one point been the “free speech wing of the free speech party” but the result had been that many people, particularly women and those in the public eye, had been subject to abuse: “So that free speech angle has definitely been tried. And I do wonder what Elon’s plan would be beyond that, really.”
And former board member Bijan Sabet wished that the offer had been rejected, just as the company had rejected an offer from Facebook 14 years earlier.
Fourteen years ago we turned down FB. While I wish the current board voted to remain independent, I still love Twitter the product and community as much as ever.
— Bijan Sabet (@bijan) April 25, 2022
On Monday, chief executive Parag Agrawal and chair of Twitter’s board of directors Bret Taylor, attempted to answer employees’ questions.
The New York Times reported that concerns raised included that Mr Musk would undo the years of work cleaning up the “toxic corners” of the platform, and fears that he would upset Twitter’s culture, with his unpredictable management style.
CNN reported that one employee asked what Musk’s takeover could mean for Twitter’s “commitment to responsible, ethical artificial intelligence and machine learning”. Mr Agrawal, the network reported, said “we need to continue doing that work”.
Mr Musk has pledged to make the company’s recommendation algorithms open-source, to increase trust.
But some Twitter staff working in the field of machine learning have been critical of allowing Mr Musk a role in running the company.
Rumman Chowdhury, Twitter’s director of machine leaning ethics, transparency, and accountability, had previously tweeted that a Musk takeover could lead to a staff exodus, and she supported a previous decision not to appoint him to the firm’s board of directors.
Since the Board’s support for Mr Musk’s offer, Ms Chowdhury shared tweets from colleagues.
One tweet said: “I don’t know what Twitter the platform or Twitter the workplace is going to look like going forward, but right now, it feels like maybe some things are just too good, too magical to last. Only time will tell.”
Another said: “Many at Twitter now face a likely owner who has publicly belittled them, their families, their friends or their communities”.
But journalist Casey Newton, writing in the Verge, said that some employees were “open to the idea that a private Twitter run by Musk stands a better chance of improving the service than would a public company beholden to its shareholders”.
They liked, he wrote, Mr Musk’s desire “to eliminate harmful bots and bring more clarity to how recommendation algorithms work”.