Today’s the day for Twitter’s most dramatic—and likely traumatic for employees—changes since Elon Musk completed his $44 billion buyout. The planned mass firing has the potential to decimate Twitter’s internal diversity and to impact user experience and content on the service, highlighting the challenge for Musk in owning an entity that serves multiple purposes: tech behemoth, cultural phenomenon and critical platform for information and culture.
Musk plans to cut as many as half of Twitter’s estimated 7,500 worldwide employees, an unprecedented mass layoff for a company that as recently as last year was still growing headcount at a rapid clip. Staffers have been told they’ll be notified whether they still have jobs by 9 o’clock Pacific time today, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Twitter’s staff works across a range of functions, from engineering to content curation, sales, marketing and administrative functions. Musk hasn’t said whether the layoffs would be more heavily concentrated in any one department over another.
What’s also up in the air is how the layoffs will impact the company’s internal diversity; about 9.7% of Twitter’s employees are Black, 8.4% are Latinx, 4.5% are multiracial and 1% are indigenous, according to the data and research website Statista. Twitter’s second-largest employee group by ethnicity is Asian, at 30.8 percent. 38.8 percent of its workers are white.
There’s also concern about how Twitter will function after losing half the people responsible for building the site, keeping it running and bringing in revenue, and how Musk’s overall plans will impact Black Twitter and other communities that formed organically on the platform—and are responsible for much of its growth and popularity. Musk says he wants the site to purge the number of annoying bots and fake accounts, a goal that would seem to require more staff, not less.
But he’s circumspect about content moderation on Twitter and has promised to loosen rules on hostile and inappropriate content. According to one report, use of the n-word and other hate speech spiked on Twitter by 500% on the day Musk completed his takeover. Several Black celebrities and influencers have either left the platform or have promised to over the past week.
Musk met with leaders from several civil rights advocacy organizations on Tuesday to discuss concerns over hate speech and other content issues on Twitter, although that meeting did not include an executive from any group representing LGBTQ communities.