Elon Musk Publicly Punishes Twitter Engineers Who Call Him Out Online

    Twitter Inc. owner Elon Musk, who has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” has resorted to firing company engineers who publicly criticize him on the social-media service.

    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Nov 15 2022, 22:41 IST
    When Elon Musk tweet sparked horror online abuse against Vijaya Gadde at Twitter
    Vijaya Gadde
    1/6 Elon Musk tweet back in April had sparked a storm against Twitter's Vijaya Gadde. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO’s previous tweets have caused a controversy following his completed takeover of Twitter. (PowerfulJRE YouTube)
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    2/6 Elon Musk’s old tweets about Twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde are back in the spotlight after he took a bold step on his first day as the new owner of Twitter by firing Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. (Wikimedia Commons)
    Elon Musk Twitter deal
    3/6 Musk was responding to a tweet from Saagar Enjeti, host of a political podcast and called the move “incredibly inappropriate.” According to Bloomberg, while Musk didn't identify Gadde by name, the post was in response to an article in which she was mentioned. (AFP)
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    4/6 Enjeti tweeted on April 27, “Vijaya Gadde, the top censorship advocate at Twitter who famously gaslit the world on Joe Rogan's podcast and censored the Hunter Biden laptop story, is very upset about the @elonmusk takeover.” (Breaking Points/YouTube)
    Elon Musk
    5/6 Musk has frequently used the social media platform as a way to criticize the company’s decisions, especially when they involve banning accounts from people who violate Twitter's rules and policies. Twitter has banned people like American rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West due a couple of anti-semitic tweets recently. (PTI)
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    6/6 A flurry of negative, and even abusive tweets from Twitter users followed Musk’s comments directed at Gadde. Racist slurs were tweeted referencing Gadde’s Indian heritage, with words like “curry” used to target the Twitter lawyer. Users questioned Gadde and blamed that she “destroyed countless @Twitter accounts for speaking the truth.” Racist comments were even hurled at ex-Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. (AFP)
    Elon Musk
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    Shockingly, Elon Musk fired an employee after he called out the Twitter CEO on the social media platform. (AFP)

    Twitter Inc. owner Elon Musk, who has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” has resorted to firing company engineers who publicly criticize him on the social-media service.

    In one case, Musk announced the firing in a tweet. In another, the former employee said he was fired after he openly rebuked Musk.

    Engineer Eric Frohnhoefer, who worked on Twitter's app for the Android mobile operating system, on Sunday reposted one of Musk's tweets with a comment, saying that Musk's understanding of a technical part of Twitter's app was “wrong.” Musk replied and asked Frohnhoefer to elaborate, before writing, “Twitter is super slow on Android. What have you done to fix that?”

    After attempting to explain his thinking in a number of tweets, Frohnhoefer was asked by another user why he hadn't shared his feedback with his new boss privately. The engineer, who has worked at Twitter for more than eight years, replied, “maybe he should ask questions privately. Maybe use Slack or email.”

    On Monday morning, Musk wrote that Frohnhoefer had been fired. Frohnhoefer retweeted that post, and included a saluting emoji that many employees used when they were laid off earlier this month. Twitter and Frohnhoefer didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on his status.

    Another engineer, Ben Leib, was also fired after calling out Musk. He retweeted the same technical post from Musk, writing, “As the former tech lead for timelines infrastructure at Twitter, I can confidently say that this man has no idea wtf he's talking about.” Leib, who worked at Twitter for a decade, confirmed to Bloomberg that he was fired on Sunday.

    Twitter has been thrown into chaos since Musk took over late last month. Many workers remain upset that Musk fired half of the company's 7,000-plus employees, including most of the senior managers, within about a week of his $44 billion buyout.

    The billionaire also rapidly changed the corporate culture. While it wasn't previously routine for employees to challenge leadership publicly at Twitter, workers often spoke out on internal Slack channels and by email before Musk showed up, sometimes posting criticism or concerns to the entire company.

    Musk's changes have led to a lack of communication internally in terms of who is in charge and what the company's priorities are, current and former staffers say.

    The moves have also led to concerns that San Francisco-based Twitter is vulnerable to product breakdowns or technical outages. On Monday, Twitter implemented another coding freeze, halting product updates to the app, and employees weren't given a clear reason why.

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    First Published Date: 15 Nov, 22:41 IST
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