Twitter founder Jack Dorsey apologises for Elon Musk's sweeping layoffs

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has apologised to the company's employees after new owner Elon Musk made around half of the staff redundant.

The San Francisco-based company told workers by email on Thursday that they would learn on Friday if they had been laid off. About 3,250 of the company’s global workforce was let go, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety & integrity, confirmed in a tweet.

Billionaire Musk defended the layoffs, saying he had "no choice" as the firm is losing more than $4m (£3.5m) a day.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter's former CEO who helped found the company, tweeted on Saturday: "Folks at Twitter past and present are strong and resilient. They will always find a way no matter how difficult the moment.

"I realise many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologise for that."

"I am grateful for, and love, everyone who has ever worked on Twitter. I don't expect that to be mutual in this moment...or ever…and I understand," Dorsey, who quit as CEO in November, added.

45-year-old Dorsey had previously supported Musk's takeover. Before leaving Twitter's board of directors in May, he said that although he didn't think anyone should own the platform, "Elon is the singular solution I trust".

Earlier, Musk said employees who lost their jobs have been offered a three month payoff.

He added that he is seeking to drastically reduce costs after completing his $44 billion (£39 billion) takeover of the platform last week.

"We need to pay the bills somehow," he tweeted.

An internal email sent to staff on Friday said the decision to cut jobs was “unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward”.

Staff in the British Isles could be affected

Workers in the UK have been told the company plans to inform and consult employee representatives ahead of potential redundancies, as required by employment law.

An email sent to staff from Twitter’s HR department on Saturday said they had until 9am on Tuesday to nominate any current employee as a representative.

The 500 staff at Twitter’s European headquarters in Dublin could also be impacted. It is not clear how many employees have been laid off, but the Republic’s Public Expenditure Minister expressed his disappointment at the nature of the layoffs describing it as a “dark day” for workers.

Twitter launches $7.99 (£7) per month blue tick subscription

Twitter has launched a subscription service allowing users to buy blue-tick verification for a monthly fee of $7.99 (roughly £7) in a major change. The system was designed to help users identify authentic and influential users on the platform, including government figures, sports stars, entertainment figures, journalists and major brands and organisations. But in an update to Apple iOS devices on Saturday, the social media company said any users who “sign up now” to its premium “Twitter Blue” service for 7.99 US dollars a month will get a blue tick. Available in the UK, as well as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the update said the service will provide: “Power to the people: Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.” Other features promised to be “coming soon” include half the number of adverts, the ability to post longer videos and priority ranking for content posted on the platform.

Twitter’s offices in London Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Campaigners and advertisers express safety worries

Online safety groups and campaigners have expressed concerns about Mr Musk’s plans to allow more free speech on the site and reverse permanent bans given to controversial figures, including former US president Donald Trump.There have been reports that some advertisers have been concerned about the possibility of such figures returning and appearing alongside their adverts on the site.

But the firm's head of safety sought to allay such fears by saying jobs cuts had affected about 15% of the trust and safety department, as opposed to approximately 50% of cuts company-wide.

Mr Musk shared a series of posts by head of safety Yoel Roth, which said that "most of the 2,000-plus content moderators working on front-line review were not impacted".

Mr Roth wrote that last week "for security reasons" the company had "restricted access" for some members of the team, but "access will be fully restored in the coming days".

“More than 80% of our incoming content moderation volume was completely unaffected by this access change. The daily volume of moderation actions we take stayed steady through this period," he wrote.

Mr Musk, followed this with a tweet saying: “Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged.

“In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline *below* our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press.”

He had earlier accused “activist groups” of “pressuring” advertisers into leaving the social media giant and causing a drop in revenue.

It came as union Prospect, which represents thousands of technology workers, including Twitter employees in the UK, said in a letter to business secretary Grant Shapps that the firm had acted “in an unacceptable way” comparing the layoffs to P&O's mass sackings earlier this year.

The letter said: “It is totally unacceptable that anyone should be treated in such a manner. I hope that you will agree with me that the government must make it clear to Twitter’s new owners a digital P&O would not be acceptable and that no-one is above the law in the UK, including big tech barons.”

Staff have taken to Twitter to confirm they are leaving the company, with some revealing they have been logged out of their work laptops and internal messaging systems.

Twitter employee Simon Balmain told Sky News: “Late last night we all received an email saying there is going to be a large reduction in headcount and the email stated that if we would be laid off, it would go to our personal email and if not to our work email.

“And it was about an hour after that, this is in the early hours of the morning UK, like 2am, that I noticed my work laptop was remotely wiped and my email access and Slack access were both revoked.

“And then I got in touch with a few colleagues, and it seemed a lot of people were seeing the same thing.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are watching what is happening at Twitter with interest.

“While we cannot comment on the individual cases, we expect companies to treat their employees fairly and our thoughts are with those who have lost their jobs.

“There are clear rules companies must follow when making large numbers of redundancies which includes consulting with staff and notifying the Redundancy Payments Service.”