Elon Musk: Twitter CEO sorry for 'misunderstanding' after viral thread with sacked disabled employee

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Twitter employee Halli Thorleifsson appealed to Elon Musk on the platform to ask whether he had been sacked

Elon Musk has been forced to apologise to a sacked Twitter employee after a public row which played out on the platform at the beginning of this week. The Twitter owner had been engaging in a conversation with Halli Thorleifsson after he tweeted Musk trying to ascertain whether he was still employed by the company following the latest set of job cuts at the company.

Mr Thorleifsson, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, sold his creative agency Ueno to Twitter in 2021, but stayed on at the company and worked within Twitter’s design department. According to Iceland Review, when he sold his agency to Twitter, he deliberately structured the deal so that he would pay a higher level of tax to the Icelandic government - though it is not known how much this deal was worth, nor how much he was being paid for his role at Twitter.

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Elon Musks Twitter account with a Twitter logo in the background in Los Angeles. (AFP via Getty Images)Elon Musks Twitter account with a Twitter logo in the background in Los Angeles. (AFP via Getty Images)
Elon Musks Twitter account with a Twitter logo in the background in Los Angeles. (AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Thorleifsson used his Twitter account (@iamharaldur) which has over 195,000 followers, to clarify his employment situation on Monday 6 March. In his first tweet, he contacted Musk asking if he was still employed by the company stating “9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees. However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You've not answered my emails.” Musk replied asking “what work have you been doing?”

A series of tweets followed between the pair, in which Musk at one point stated that “he’s the worst, sorry.” This tweet has since been deleted. Despite this, there was still no clarification from either party as to whether the Icelander had had his employment terminated at the social media platform.

Last night (Tuesday 7 March), Musk issued a public apology to Mr Thorleifsson stating; "I would like to apologise to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful." He added that "He is considering remaining at Twitter." It is not known what caused the apparent change of heart to issue a public apology.

This argument is the latest in a number of high-profile incidents involving Twitter employees let go during Mr Musk’s restructuring of the company. These include Esther Crawford, who led the design behind the new Twitter Blue feature being let go in the latest round of 200 job cuts last month, despite having previously shared that she was sleeping on the floor of the office during Musk’s first weeks at the platform. Numerous employees have also shared their upset at their treatment when receiving the news that they were being let go by the company - with many finding out indirectly having been locked out of their work emails.

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Musk has reduced the company’s workforce from approximately 7,000 employees when he purchased the company last year, to an estimated 1,800 employees by March 2022. He has also shut the platform’s offices in the UK.

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