Can Elon Musk’s social brutality at Twitter attack his image as a successful billionaire?

Can Elon Musk's social brutality at Twitter attack his image as a successful billionaire?

Posted on November 08, 2022

It only took Elon Musk a few days to dismiss, by email and in the middle of the night, almost 50% of Twitter’s 7,500 employees. He justifies this devastating social plan by the need to reduce the losses of a company for which he paid 44 billion dollars. Problem: it decapitates the vital forces of the company and creates a major legal and social risk as these methods do not respect any social law, including American.

The stories of Twitter employees fired on the night of November 3 to 4 follow and resemble each other in the brutality of the process. They discovered that they no longer had access to the social network when they got up, either by email or because their work sessions were inaccessible. Elon Musk decided to land them with brutality after having the “quality” of the work of Twitter employees assessed by Tesla developers in a few days. Before that, they were a global, committed and smiling team of young people working in Silicon Valley, as evidenced by Julie Steele whose contract ended last week.

The method stunned not only the employees who, like Chris Younie, weren’t even sure of being fired but had to guess it, but also the users of the social network who would already be several hundred thousand to have left it.

A first collective action against the social network

Having become sole master on board after dissolving the board of directors of Twitter, which he withdrew from the stock market listing as soon as it was taken over, Elon Musk took a little less than a week to saw off the branch on which he had just s ‘Sit.

These more than expeditious methods are not legal in California, where a large company cannot massively lay off its employees without respecting a two-month period to notify the social plan. A first collective action has already been brought by a group of employees on this basis to have their dismissal annulled. Among them, a Frenchman, Emmanuel Cornet, who recounted his dismissal notified by an e-mail stating that “his recent behavior broke several rules without specifying which ones”. He added that an employee who gave birth the day before had also been dismissed in the process.

Elon Musk could be ordered to pay even more compensation to employees if the brutality of these dismissals is combined with elements of discrimination. For the moment, he has contented himself with justifying his act by the amount of Twitter’s daily losses: 4 million dollars.

Risks of deviations

The weak point of the takeover of Twitter in the strategy of the often erratic billionaire is there. Until then, his escapades have been forgiven in the face of the success of Tesla and Space X, his two disruptive creations. But how to integrate into this story the transformation of a social network, the favorite platform of specialists in conspiracy and alternative truths, and full of fake accounts?

Starting by landing half of those who built the business you just bought out and who constitute a large part of its value can hardly pass for a good method. Moreover, Elon Musk himself has already partly reconsidered his strategy since he recalled some of the employees and postponed his payment policy for the certification of accounts.

What will remain of Twitter version Elon Musk? He continues to affirm modestly that he wants to make it the most relevant source of information in the world and that it is up to the Twitter community to certify the reliability of what is broadcast on their platform.

A door open to all excesses, especially since its first decisions do not concern the banning of fake accounts fed by click farms that weigh on the polls, in Brazil as in the United States. His call to vote Republican on the eve of the midterm elections, like the banishment of comedian Kathy Griffin, who had provocatively hijacked his account, show that his conception of freedom of expression has its limits and that Above all, he has become an objective ally of Donald Trump!

Anne-Catherine Husson-Traore, @AC_HT_CEO of Novethic