Elon Musk fires thousands of outsourced Twitter content moderators without warning

Job cuts expected to have a significant impact on Twitter’s moderation

Vishwam Sankaran
Monday 14 November 2022 16:19 GMT
Related video: Will Elon Musk Ruin Twitter?

Twitter reportedly cut thousands more jobs over the weekend, firing outsourced contract workers including those who fight misinformation on the platform as content moderators.

The social media company has cut an estimated 4,400 of its 5,500 contract workers, according to the technology news publication Platformer.

Contractors who were laid off were reportedly part of teams involved in content moderation, engineering, real estate, and marketing.

These latest job cuts follow mass layoffs at Twitter starting over a week ago that have so far seen more than half of the social media company’s almost 8,000 workers sacked.

“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4m/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50 per cent more than legally required,” Twitter’s new boss Elon Musk tweeted following the layoffs on 4 November.

Twitter also reached out to re-hire some of its sacked employees to meet its deadlines for new features, and to work on Mr Musk’s pet projects.

The recent firing of Twitter’s contract teams is expected to have a significant impact on the microblogging platform’s content moderation as well as the main infrastructure services which keep the site running, according to Platformer.

Some of the newly laid-off contract workers were involved in fighting political misinformation on the platform.

Twitter’s contractors, both in the US and abroad, were reportedly laid off on Saturday without any notice with workers getting to know their jobs were cut only when they lost access to Slack and email.

These job cuts were part of Twitter’s “reprioritisation and savings exercise,” Insider reported, citing an internal email sent to contractors.

Content moderation researcher Sarah Roberts tweeted on Sunday that contractors fulfill many key roles inside the company.

“All contractors are not content moderation agents...But almost all moderation agents are contractors,” Dr Roberts said.

“If Musk is truly deactivating and firing contractors en masse, you all better get your data archive saved and get your sh** off this dumpster fire now,” she tweeted on Saturday.

The social media company has been in a state of chaos since Mr Musk’s bought out the company for $44bn and becoming its new chief.

Last week the platform struggled to control a slew of impersonating accounts after the rollout of its controversial $8 Twitter Blue subscription service, which allows users to pay for the same blue checkmark which was previously given to the verified accounts of celebrities, politicians, government agencies, media houses and journalists.

A fake tweet from a “verified” account claiming to be the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly tanked its stock price.

“We are excited to announce insulin is free now,” the verified Twitter account impersonating Eli Lilly, one of the top three global producers of insulin, tweeted.

Twitter put a hold on the roll-out of its subscription service after failing to control chaos on the platform from impersonating accounts.

Since taking over the social media company, the Tesla chief said he has sold “billions of dollars” worth of shares of his electric vehicle company to “save” Twitter, and has told staff that bankruptcy is not out of the question.

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