Elon Musk has said no banned Twitter accounts will be reinstated without the approval of a new, ‘diverse,’ content moderation council.
Following his $44 billion takeover of the company, Musk tweeted Friday that ‘no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen,’ without the approval of a new content moderation council that has ‘widely diverse viewpoints.’
Musk has widely criticized Twitter’s suspension policies and vowed to bring back prominent figures – like Donald Trump and his former advisers Roger Stone and Steve Bannon – to the social media site.
The tweet came after two men were outside the San Francisco headquarters told reporters that a team of data engineers were fired, according to CNBC.
‘It’s somewhere I worked at for six years and everything suddenly changed,’ one of the men told reporters.
The Verge, however, reported that the men do not work for Twitter and were pulling a stunt, as a search for them on the company email system failed to turn up leads.
One of the men also identified himself as Rahul Ligma, with the surname typically used as meme to elicit the response, ‘lick my b****.’
It comes after Musk formally took over Twitter late last night and sacked several top executives including its CEO, CFO and chief lawyer.
Elon Musk said that he will be forming a ‘diverse’ content moderation council to make decisions about content and whose account can get reinstated
Two men who claimed they were Twitter data engineers as ‘laid off’ employees are pictured walking out of the San Francisco office on Friday afternoon. The Verge , however, reported that the men do not work for Twitter and were pulling a stunt, as a search for them on the company email system failed to turn up leads
One of the men lamented the alleged loss of his job, telling reporters: ‘It’s somewhere I worked at for 6 years and everything suddenly changed’
This man told reporters he was a software engineer who was let go from Twitter’s data team
Both men were reportedly carrying boxes of their belongings from Twitter headquarters, however, reports claim the men are not employees and are pulling a stunt
The new ‘Chief Twit’ wielded the ax on Friday morning just hours after taking over the social media giant following a dramatic $44billion takeover
Trump welcomed his takeover on Friday, writing on his own social media site Truth Social: ‘TRUTH SOCIAL has become somewhat of a phenomena.
‘Last week it had bigger numbers than all other platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.
‘It also looks and works better to my eye. I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country.
‘Twitter must now work hard to rid itself of all of the bots and fake accounts that have hurt it so badly.
‘It will be much smaller, but better. I LOVE TRUTH!’
Other conservative figures who were banned from the platform have hoped that with Musk at the helm, his stated commitment to free speech will allow them to return.
Along with former President Trump, the big names booted from Twitter include Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Steve Bannon and US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Stone, who has said he wants to come back after being banned in 2017 for attacking a journalist.
Musk is expected to bring back the Twitter account of former President Donald Trump after he was kicked off the site for posts made after the January 6 Capitol riot. The two are pictured here at the Oval Office of the White House
In his statement, Trump both welcomed Musk’s arrival at Twitter while trying to boost the fortunes of his own social media
Among those expected to be brought back to Twitter under Musk include former Trump advisers Roger Stone (left) and Steve Bannon (right)
Stone was briefly back on Twitter in April using an alternate account as he said he was ‘anxious to see how strong Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech is.’
Steve Bannon is another former Trump adviser looking to return to the platform after being kicked out in 2020.
The former White House chief strategist had posted a video suggesting Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be beheaded.
One of the more controversial figures to be booted from the platform is InfoWars host Alex Jones, who was ordered to pay $95 million in damages over false claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.
Families of the victims branded Jones a conspiracy theorist whose claims have caused years of harassment and even death threats from his believers.
U.S. Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene also saw her personal account permanently suspended earlier this year after spreading COVID vaccine misinformation.
The congresswoman had received multiple warnings before her account was pulled.
Also banned on Twitter are David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as Milo Yiannopoulous, who was accused of stirring abuse toward Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.
Musk celebrated his Twitter takeover on Friday, saying that the platform would be freed under his rule following his criticisms over its suspension policies
TWITTER’S HEAD OF CENSORSHIP: LAWYER WHO BANNED TRUMP & DONATED $16,000 TO THE DEMOCRATS
Vijaya Gadde’s had been a low-key Silicon Valley power player for years, and at Twitter played a key role in the contentious decisions to ban Donald Trump and suppress news articles about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
After moving to the US from India with her family as a toddler, Gadde and her family faced racism as she grew up in Beaumont, Texas, where she has said her father had to seek approval from the Ku Klux Klan to sell insurance door-to-door.
Federal records show that she has also donated regularly to Democratic candidates, contributing more than $18,000 over the past two decades, and most recently supporting Kamala Harris with a $2,700 check in 2019.
As Twitter’s chief legal officer and general counsel, Gadde exercises enormous power at the company, where she has long essentially had final say over who is allowed on the platform, and what they can tweet.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Gadde once said that Twitter’s former CEO Jack Dorsey left the creation and enforcement of content policies up to her.
‘He rarely weighs in on an individual enforcement decision,’ Gadde told the outlet. ‘I can’t even think of a time. I usually go to him and say, ‘this is what’s going to happen.”
Although she maintains a low profile, that power has put Gadde at the center of some of Twitter’s most controversial moderation decisions, including the decision to permanently ban Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capitol in January 2021.
She also signed off on Twitter’s move to block the sharing of links to a New York Post article based on files from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop soon before the 2020 election.
On Thursday, Musk gave the boot to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and CFO Ned Segal, along with Twitter lawyer Vijaya Gadde, who was widely considered the ‘head of censorship’ at the company.
Gadde walks away with a sizeable payout – a total of $72million in stocks that she owned, salary and benefits and stocks that had not yet vested when she was in her position but which are now paid out as part of the deal.
MarketWatch reports that Gadde, Agrawal and Segal take a combined ‘golden parachute’ of $204million; Agrawal gets $66million and Segal takes $65million.
Musk has not yet publicly named their replacements but he is expected to act as interim CEO at least on a temporary basis.
As Musk ushered them out last night, he asked Tesla engineers to visit HQ today to start rewriting the website’s code.
Among his plans is to open source algorithms to increase transparency for users about how their data is used to suggest content to them, and to add an ‘edit’ button for all.
The South African publicly criticized Twitter’s existing leadership team – in particular, attacking their policies on content moderation and censorship. He has also sparred with them over data on how many accounts were bots or spam.
Agrawal, who took over from founder Jack Dorsey almost a year ago, has been at loggerheads with Musk over the number of genuine Twitter users, with Musk responding to a thread of Agrawal’s in May with a ‘poop’ emoji.
When Musk first made his takeover bid in April, he said he had not been given accurate data about spam accounts and bots.
Three months after launching his bid, Musk pulled out – insisting he had been misled about the size of the firm.
Twitter has for years said that bots make up less than 5 percent of its ‘monetizable daily active users’ (mDAU).
In a series of tweets in May, Agrawal acknowledged that ‘spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter,’ and added that, ‘as such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day.’
He insisted that Musk was exaggerating the scale of the problem. The South African-born Musk said as many as 25 percent of all Twitter accounts were not real.
Twitter sued Musk to complete the deal, accusing him of using bots as a pretext to exit the deal after getting buyer’s remorse, and the deal was set to go to trial later this month.
Musk himself took aim in April at Gadde for censoring stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop after it was reported she’d sobbed at news he’d bought the firm.
The tycoon wrote: ‘Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.’
Musk was referring to the suspension of the New York Post’s account for its exclusive about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Initially dismissed as ‘misinformation’ by liberal outlets and social media networks, the laptop and its contents have since been verified by many of the same publications.
Gadde – who was described as Twitter’s ‘moral authority’ – broke down in tears on April 25, Politico reported, while briefing her team via video link on the future of the company under Musk.
Sean Edgett (left), the general counsel, and Ned Segal, chief financial officer for Twitter (right), have also reportedly been fired
Sarah Personette (left) tweeted on Wednesday that she was excited to work with Elon Musk – and was fired by him the next day
Meanwhile, Twitter staff have remained on edge since the takeover was finalizing this week.
Musk was pictured on Wednesday speaking with some employees, reportedly denying rumors that he is culling three quarters of the staff.
But that did little to assuage the more than 7,500 people employed by the social media giant.
As one Twitter employee explained in an anonymous essay for Business Insider, those who remain at the company are worried about the Tesla CEO’s volatility.
‘I don’t think my colleagues and I have a good model for how volatile he is — and I can see that rocking the boat, especially if he makes more comments that make people say, ‘What the hell?” the anonymous Twitter employee wrote.
‘There are also people here who are just unfazed by his volatility,’ they continued. ‘They’re not going to react in any way.’
The employee noted that their fellow workers’ views of their new boss will all be contingent on how many people he lays off.
‘People are asking, if heads are going to roll, whose good graces do you need to be in to stay?’ the employee wrote, adding: ‘Most people think layoffs are going to be pretty immediate.
‘I don’t think our site-reliability engineers need to be worried, though,’ they mused. ‘On the other hand, machine-learning engineers, or the people responsible for building experimental services are more worried.’
The Twitter employee then went on to say they would be most worried ‘if Musk decides to wipe out teams indiscriminately, because then it’s just a roll of the dice.’
In the meantime, several Twitter employees took to their social media platform to share how they are sticking together.
Following the visit, Stephanie Guevara, a senior iOS engineer for the platform, asked Musk directly: ‘Was it fun to look at the faces of the people you said you’d be laying off?’
Parker Lyons expressed his nervousness about the new boss’ visit with a meme of a man on top of two tires lifting a sofa, captioned: ‘When Elon walks by your desk to see what you’re working on’
Others just shared how they are sticking together during the takeover
Stephanie Guevara, a senior iOS engineer for the platform, though, was more blunt — asking Musk directly: ‘Was it fun to look at the faces of the people you said you’d be laying off?’
And Parker Lyons expressed his nervousness about the new boss’ visit with a meme of a man on top of two tires lifting a sofa, captioned: ‘When Elon walks by your desk to see what you’re working on.’
Twitter management had already planned to cut staff after spending a whopping $1.5 billion last year on personnel, and had wanted to reduce that amount by some $800 million.
It also spent hundreds of millions of dollars in contracting firms that pay people to review reports of hate speech, child pornography and other rule-breaking content, corporate documents obtained by the Washington Post last week revealed.
Management also planned to make major cuts to its infrastructure, getting rid of data centers that keep the site functioning for more than 200 million users a day.
But Musk expanded on the idea of layoffs, telling employees in June he didn’t see a reason why low-performing workers should remain on the payroll.
The fired five: Musk culls Twitter’s top executive staff members within hours of taking control of the social media company
Parag Agrawal, 38
- Chief Executive Officer since 2021
- 2021 compensation: $30.4 million
Agrawal took over from Jack Dorsey when he stood down as CEO in November 2021.
He has frequently clashed with Musk over Twitter’s user numbers, with Musk claiming the social media platform exaggerates how many users it has and downplays the number of spam accounts, fakes or bots.
Agrawal insisted that only around 5 percent of Twitter’s accounts were bots, which infuriated Musk. Musk responded to Agrawal’s lengthy explanation of their calculations with a ‘poop’ emoji.
The pair also argued in private.
They exchanged text messages that indicated a falling out, as revealed by documents disclosed in the legal battle between the billionaire and the social network.
On April 26, Dorsey, Musk and Agrawal convened a Google Hangout to discuss the takeover, and the conversation did not go well.
‘At least it became clear that you can’t work together. That was clarifying,’ Dorsey said.
Pictured: Parag Agrawal
Ned Segal, 48
- Chief Financial Officer since 2017
- 2021 compensation: $18.9 million
It was Segal who, in February 2021, announced that Twitter’s ban on Donald Trump was permanent.
Musk has said that decision was wrong, and he intends to reverse it.
‘The way our policies work, when you’re removed from the platform, you’re removed from the platform, whether you’re a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official,’ he told CNBC.
‘Remember, our policies are designed to make sure that people are not inciting violence, and if anybody does that, we have to remove them from the service and our policies don’t allow people to come back.’
Segal also likely irked Musk with his cautious approach to finance – in particular his announcement in November that he didn’t think investing in cryptocurrency was a good move for Twitter.
Musk is famously a fan of cryptocurrency, and champions Doegecoin.
Segal told The Wall Street Journal that investing Twitter’s corporate cash in crypto assets such as bitcoin ‘doesn’t make sense right now.’
Pictured: Ned Segal
Vijaya Gadde, 48
- Head of Legal Policy since 2011
- 2021 compensation: $17 million
Gadde, described as Twitter’s ‘moral compass’, was a passionate defender of Twitter’s role as a censor and arbitrator. She was long considered one of the people who would be fired first by Musk.
In October 2019 she was the architect of the idea to stop political advertising on the platform, and shortly before the election she played a key role in the decision to suspend The New York Post’s account when it reported on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Twitter claimed it violated the company policy against promoting hacked material; critics were angered by the heavy-handedness, and Twitter later apologized.
In January 2021, it was Gadde who rang then-CEO Jack Dorsey – on vacation in Hawaii – to inform him they were banning Donald Trump, for violating policies against inciting violence.
- General Counsel since 2017
- 2021 compensation: unclear
Edgett, a close ally of Gadde, emailed staff last week to say there were no plans for mass layoffs – a move which may have irked Musk, given the impending takeover.
‘Please note that there will continue to be a great deal of public rumor and speculation as we get closer to closing the deal,’ Edgett wrote.
‘First, we have no confirmation of the buyer’s plans after closing and recommend not following any rumors or leaked documents, but instead awaiting facts from us and the buyer directly.’
Edgett added that there were ‘targeted cost-cutting discussions and plans’ earlier in the year, but those discussions stopped when Twitter and Musk signed a deal. Since then, there have been no plans for company-wide layoffs, he said.
He also warned employees earlier this year to refrain from sharing their opinions on Musk’s bid on social media.
A Twitter whistleblower claimed that senior figures at the company told him to destroy documents.
Peiter Zatko, the former head of security, who was fired in January, was seized upon by Musk as an ally in his fight to get to the bottom of the mystery about Twitter’s user numbers.
Zatko’s complaint, in which he accused Twitter of lying about its security practices and violating a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, was described by Agrawal and Edgett as false.
‘We have never made a material misrepresentation to a regulator, to our board, to all of you,’ Edgett said. ‘We are in full compliance with our F.T.C. consent decree.’
Pictured: Sean Edgett
Personette worked as Twitter’s chief customer officer until she was fired on October 26.
The former CCO Personette was handed $11.2 million as part of Musk’s house clearance.
Just one day before she was culled from the workforce, she wrote on Twitter: ‘Had a great discussion with Elon Musk last evening! Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged. Looking forward to the future!’
Pictured: Sarah Personette