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Twitter teeters as employees quit en masse

Messages projected onto Twitter HQ in San Francisco by projectionist activist Alan Marling. Marling has been projecting messages onto Bay Area buildings since 2017. He began doing it with Twitter in 2017 in protest of Donald Trump’s presence on the platform. | Courtesy Alan Marling

Twitter employees reportedly resigned en masse on Thursday, raising concerns that the site could be knocked offline for lack of manpower as new owner Elon Musk struggles to get control of the social network after acquiring it last month.

Twitter abruptly locked offices after a mass resignation on Thursday, a day after Musk issued an ultimatum that remaining workers get “extremely hardcore” in their efforts towards his “Twitter 2.0” vision for the company or resign, according to Business Insider. Employees will be allowed to re-enter offices on Monday, the site reported.

Alan Marling focuses his projector displaying protest messages regarding Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday Nov. 17, 2022. | Mike Kuba/The Standard

At least 1,200 full-time employees quit on Thursday following Musk’s ultimatum, leaving entire teams decimated, according to the New York Times. But a Friday morning email, reportedly from Musk, called the company’s remaining engineers into the office at 2 p.m. on Friday.

As the social network bled workers, Musk and his closest advisors attempted to retain employees they deemed “critical,” the New York Times reported.

Prior to Musk’s Oct. 27 buyout of Twitter, the company had roughly 7,500 employees. Musk fired top management and about half the company’s total staff, while others—including top privacy and security executives—quit in the ensuing days.

Tweeters fretted on Thursday evening that the site could shut down imminently with so few employees manning the infrastructure, jokingly comparing the site’s downfall to the sinking Titanic or trying to leave a dinner party. 

Many reported signs of trouble with the site, noting longer-than-usual loading times and other issues.

A former Twitter engineer, who left the company this week but wished to stay anonymous, told The Standard he expects Twitter to get “overrun with trolls and racists” before a wrong move accidentally breaks the website entirely.

The former engineer said that those who remained at Twitter likely fall into one of two groups: Musk groupies, and people for whom quitting now, even with three months’ severance, could have serious consequences such as deportation.

“Twitter is no longer a place that is safe, moral or fun, to work at,” he wrote.

The situation at Twitter has caught the attention of regulators, with the Federal Trade Commission saying last week that it was “tracking the developments at Twitter with deep concern.”

President Joe Biden said at a press conference that Musk’s buyout could be “looked at” as a national security concern over his reliance on foreign investors such as Saudi royal Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Qatar Holding LLC and Cayman Islands-based Binance to finance the $44 billion Twitter buyout. 

Musk has previously tussled with the Securities and Exchange Commission over governance of Tesla, one of two other companies he runs.

A court filing in Delaware indicated that Musk’s Twitter buyout is already under federal investigation, according to Reuters.

Alan Marling's projection protest displayed on Twitter's HQ in San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. | Mike Kuba/The Standard

Meanwhile, employment lawsuits against the company keep stacking up in response to its haphazard mass layoffs of employees and contractors. 

On Wednesday, a class action complaint was filed against Twitter in federal court with engineering manager Dmitry Borodaenko as the named plaintiff.

Poroshenko claims he was fired after failing to report to the office, but says he has a disability that leaves him vulnerable and that the return to office requirement is in opposition to the reasonable accommodation requirements laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I have never seen anything like this in my nearly quarter century representing workers,” attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said in a statement.

Kevin Truong and Sarah Wright contributed additional reporting for this story.
Annie Gaus can be reached at

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