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Twitter lays off 5K contractors in surprise 2nd wave of cuts, more mods lost

Twitter lays off 5K contractors in surprise 2nd wave of cuts, more mods lost

Twitter already faces a class-action lawsuit from some staff that the company laid off without providing federally required notice. Now, rather than realize the error of its ways, Twitter decided this weekend that its next round of layoffs should come with no notice at all.

On Saturday, Platformer’s Casey Newton tweeted that a large number of Twitter contract workers based inside and outside the US had been laid off. This decision was seemingly made so abruptly that not even the contractors’ managers were told they’d be losing workers. Business Insider published the email sent out to contract workers, coldly informing them that Monday would be their last day and no work was required of them that day. The Verge estimated that 4,500 to 5,500 workers were affected from content moderation, marketing, engineering, and other teams. By some estimates, this represents 80 percent of all Twitter contract workers.

“One of my contractors just got deactivated without notice in the middle of making critical changes to our child safety workflows,” one manager wrote in Slack, according to Newton’s tweet thread.

One contract worker messaged Newton directly to confirm his reporting, claiming, “I learned I was laid off by reading your tweets.”

Insider spoke to two contract workers who were laid off. They said that they noticed that they lost access to their Twitter email accounts before they got the email informing them that they were fired. During the prior round of layoffs, the same thing reportedly happened to Twitter staff.

One of the recently laid-off contract workers told Insider that Twitter’s callous method of conducting layoffs is inappropriate, saying, “I don’t understand how they didn’t learn from their previous week’s debacle of laying off full-time employees without telling them.”

According to the internal email that Insider shared, contract workers were told they were being cut due to a “reprioritization and saving exercise in an effort to better focus during this period of resource constraints.” The email informed workers that their contract had ended, asked them to submit any outlying expense reports or time cards, and reminded them of the Non-Disclosure Agreement they signed, promising not to share confidential information about their former projects.

“Thank you for your service,” Twitter signed off the letter, directing any questions from contract workers to the IT staffing company that hired them, Surya Systems, Inc.

Surya Systems did not respond to Ars’ request for comment. Twitter laid off its communications department.

Although this round of layoffs to many seemed to come out of nowhere, Musk told Twitter staff in a recent Q&A session that he still considered the company overstaffed. Journalist Kara Swisher tweeted a question that many watching the Twitter chaos unfold are probably wondering, “Why were there 5,500 contractors in the first place?”

According to The Washington Post, in part due to Russian election interference in 2016, social media companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook were pressured by Congress to hire thousands of content moderators in 2017. At that time, Facebook confirmed that it had hired about 15,000 contract workers, while Twitter more modestly had doubled its contractors to approximately 1,500.

It would seem that in the years since, Twitter continued growing its contract workers to what Swisher suggested was “major bloat.” Swisher suggested this second round of layoffs was perhaps one of the more defensible of Musk’s moves since taking over Twitter.

These newest cuts, however, could further destabilize the platform. Workers told Newton that Twitter losing so many contractors is “expected to have significant impact to content moderation and the core infrastructure services that keep the site up and running.”

Sources reported “bitter” feelings among contract workers laid off—with many workers feeling “stunned.”

“You don’t have to treat people this way,” Newton tweeted in sympathy.

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