Elon Musk confronts former Twitter employee online


A two-year Twitter employee had a question for company owner Elon Musk: Did he still have a job?

Haraldur Thorleifsson tweeted at Musk on Monday saying his access to his work computer had been cut off nine days ago and he hadn’t been able to get a response from human resources.

“However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve not answered my emails,” Thorleifsson tweeted at Musk. “Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?”

Musk responded with his own question: “What work have you been doing?”

Elon Musk reinvents Twitter for the benefit of a power user: Himself

Musk, the second-richest person in the world, is also a power user of the company he bought for $44 billion in October. He has more than 130 million followers and is known for tweeting day and night — using the site to make major company announcements and sometimes getting himself in trouble with regulators and advertisers.

That includes when he shared — and then deleted — a post containing misinformation about the attack on Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

Since Musk took over Twitter, he has cut thousands of employees, fired most of the company’s executives and devoted so much attention to Twitter that Tesla stock plummeted in part because of concerns over his involvement at the social media company. Employees within Twitter, including those who have been laid off, have said the work environment has been chaotic and there has been little communication from the company during the rounds of layoffs.

In the tweet threads Monday and Tuesday, Thorleifsson wanted to know if he was still employed by the company. He joined Twitter in 2021 when the social media company bought his design firm, Ueno. Musk fired questions back at the founder. Thorleifsson said he’d been working on leading prioritization of design projects across the company.

Musk subsequently tweeted that the design manager “did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm.”

Thorleifsson responded that he has muscular dystrophy, diseases that cause muscle weakness, and as a result cannot type for extended periods of time.

“This wasn’t a problem in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior director and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, give them strategic and tactical guidance,” he tweeted, adding: “I’m typing this on my phone btw. It’s easier for because I only need to use one finger.”

Thorleifsson, who goes by Halli and is well-known for giving back to the community in his home country of Iceland, tweeted that during his exchange with Musk, he received confirmation from Twitter’s human resources department that he was no longer employed with the company.

“Let me know if you are going to pay what you owe me?” he wrote to Musk. “I think you can afford it?” Musk has a net worth of about $178 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk has faced backlash at both Twitter and Tesla over working conditions and the confrontational way he sometimes deals with employees online.

On Tuesday, he tweeted that it “hurts my faith in humanity” that people were defending Thorleifsson online.

Meanwhile, later that day Musk appeared at a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley, the investment bank that arranged financing for his acquisition, where he talked further about his plans for the company.

He touted Twitter’s commitment to “free speech,” outlined its core principles and took aim at the mainstream media — a frequent target — as he pushed what he has called “citizen journalism.”

“Really we want to it be the fundamental place you go to to understand what’s going on,” he said of Twitter.

But he also again took aim at Twitter’s past management, continuing to push his argument the site should be a de facto town square.

“Twitter was controlled by the far left,” he said. “But that’s not conducive to a healthy national dialogue. To have a healthy national dialogue, you have to represent the whole country.”

He also lamented the difficult task of turning the company around.

“The reason I did the Twitter acquisition was not because I thought his would be some lucrative gold mine,” he said. “In fact is has been arduous and difficult … being dumped on every day, that is not the most fun thing in the world.”

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