Elon Musk said to lay off workers across Twitter

Firings could take place before November 1, when employees of the social media company are set to receive stock grants

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California.  After more than six months of controversy, Elon Musk is now at the head of one of the most influential social networks. AFP
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Elon Musk plans to lay off staff at Twitter, with some managers at the social media company being asked to draft lists of employees to fire, the New York Times and Washington Post reported, quoting sources.

Mr Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Thursday after months of deliberations during which the billionaire questioned the number of users on the platform but finally gave in as a drawn-out litigation process neared.

Mr Musk, who is the world's richest man and has 110 million Twitter followers, ordered cuts across company, which has about 7,500 staff, the newspapers said, citing unnamed sources.

The firings are likely to take place before November 1, when employees are set to receive stocks grants as part of their compensation, the Times and Post said.

Firing staff before November 1 could assist Mr Musk in avoiding paying the grants to staff, which usually account for a large portion of an employee's pay, they said.

However, under the terms of the acquisition agreement of the company, Twitter employees are supposed to receive cash payments in lieu of their stock grants.

One of the first departments to be affected is likely to be legal, trust, and safety, which sets policy and oversees content moderation, while the team overseeing information security and privacy is also drawing up a list of people to fire, the Post said.

About 50 per cent of Twitter's workforce is likely to be cut, the Post reported, quoting a source.

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal and finance chief Ned Segal left the company and will not be returning, CNBC reported on Thursday, citing sources. Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal policy, trust and safety, was reportedly fired, the Post reported.

The three top executives of Twitter stand to receive separation payouts totalling some $122 million, Reuters reported, citing research company Equilar.

Mr Musk has accused the executives of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the platform.

He plans to be chief executive at Twitter and intends to lift permanent bans on users because he does not believe in lifelong prohibitions, Bloomberg reported, quoting a source.

That could pave the way for the return of former US president Donald Trump to the social media platform.

“To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter's content moderation policies,” Mr Musk said in a post on Twitter.

Twitter will be forming a content moderation council “with widely diverse viewpoints”, he said.

“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”

Mr Musk and Twitter were given until Friday by a US judge to finalise the deal, which has dragged on since April when the Tesla chief executive offered to buy it at $54.20 a share.

He tried to walk away from the deal in May after accusing the social media company of understating the number of bot and fake accounts on the platform, which Twitter denied and led to a series of lawsuits between the two parties.

The deal was completed before an October 28 deadline set by a US judge, which if missed would have opened the way for a trial.

Updated: October 30, 2022, 7:15 AM