Twitter employees panic over Elon Musk in internal Slack posts
Internal communications leaked by Twitter employees reveal woke employees are overcome with desperation and anger over Elon Musk’s month-long effort to acquire Twitter.
Musk announced on Monday that he would buy the company for $44 billion. The deal concludes a month-long saga that began with Musk first tweeting polls and his thoughts on declining free speech on Twitter.
On corporate communications platform Slack, some Twitter employees lashed out at the new owner, leaked posts reveal.
“Physically, I’m scared to watch Elon talk about free speech,” wrote a site reliability engineer who identifies as a non-binary transgender and plural person.
“We all go through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are on edge,” wrote a senior software engineer who called Musk a “a**hole” and tried to console his colleagues. “We are all spinning our wheels and coming up with worst-case scenarios (Trump is back! More moderation!). The fact is that [Musk] didn’t talk about what he was planning to do in detail outside of general statements that could easily be seen as hyperbolic showmanship.
A senior video engineer announced he would quit: “It may not be the place to say it, but I will not work for this company after the takeover.”
Following the back and forth between several employees angry at the news, some warned that their communications on Slack could be searched. Employees then moved their conversations to their personal devices using the encrypted chat app Signal.
Twitter management appeared to predict internal backlash and possible sabotage when it locked down its employees’ ability to make changes to the platform until Friday.
Prior to Monday’s deal, Twitter employees had already been speaking out on Slack for weeks about Musk and defending the platform’s enforcement of moderation.
A Reliability Engineering official said Musk’s views on free speech “is a cover for ‘I don’t want to be held accountable for saying or amplifying harmful things’.”
Another engineer wrote that “self-declared censorship is sometimes just horrible people fucking around and then finding[ing] out.” A senior content strategist replied, “and it doesn’t happen often enough.”
This senior content strategist, who worked as a left-leaning political operative outside of Twitter, led many conversations that were highly critical of Musk.
“Sometimes I think it can’t be as bad as I imagine. Then I see something like this and I’m all ‘no it will be even worse’,” she wrote in response to a tweet from Musk last week.
But not all employees kept their perspective in internal company discussions. Some of the strongest comments against Musk have been made publicly on employee Twitter accounts.
Addison Howenstine, a software engineer, tweeted: “You asked me why El*n M*sk buying 9.2% of Tw*tter and getting a seat on the board is bad and I explain why that n Clearly that was not his end goal and things will certainly get worse and be potentially dangerous for democracy and world affairs.
Jay Holler, an engineering executive, broke down in several tweets earlier in the month when it was announced that Musk could take on a leadership role. “The problem with @elonmusk is that he has consistently demonstrated a pattern of harmful behavior that disproportionately affects marginalized people, so maybe we’re not giving him more power than he’s already stolen? ” Holler later tweeted, “I’m radicalized now.”
Connor Campbella non-binary front-end engineer, responded directly to Musk on Tuesday defending Twitter’s censorship of the Post for its reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop shortly before the 2020 presidential election.
“Twitter had a policy on hacked materials. We enforced that policy the same way,” Campbell said. The contents of the laptop were not hacked, as acknowledged by The Washington Post and The Times. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called it a “total mistake” during a congressional hearing last year.
Laura Gomezwho ran Twitter localization, tweeted: “Twitter, owned by AM*sk, is one of the biggest threats to the 2022 and 2024 elections. We’re screwed if that happens.
Separately on Slack, several Twitter employees repeatedly disparaged this reporter for posting screenshots of their colleagues’ publicly available tweets. They discussed ways they thought his tweets might be a violation of Twitter policies.
“How is [Ngo] hole checked? asked a senior software engineer. Several employees used slurs to refer to this reporter before admitting that the tweets did not break their rules. They suggested to each other that they remove Twitter job mentions from their Twitter bios.
Although many of Slack’s internal comments personally criticized Musk and his views, a few employees weren’t as outraged and some were actively pushed back.
“I don’t know much about him, I don’t care. I just wish freedom of speech was [the] the highest priority. I don’t care who runs this. Especially for minorities like me, I had no rights in my home country,” said a woman from the design department.
Another software engineer wrote, “I think it’s obvious that our policies are biased (everyone has a bias) and I would personally like to see more balance. IDK if Musk is the right person to do it, but the idea of someone who might be less biased towards the things we’re already biased about is something I like.
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