15 Nov 2022 By theguardian
Elon Musk has said he has "too much work on my plate" as it was reported that Twitter has axed more than 4,000 contractors working in areas including content moderation and engineering.
The Tesla chief executive and the social media platform's new owner told the B20 business leaders' conference in Bali that "my workload has recently increased quite a lot", in apparent reference to his $44bn (£37bn) acquisition of the social media platform on 27 October.
"I mean, oh, man. I have too much work on my plate, that is for sure," he added, speaking via video link.
Asked what it felt like to be a "media mogul" after buying Twitter he said: "It is a medium as opposed to media. But there's no way to make everyone happy, that's for sure."
Musk's comments on Monday followed a report at the weekend that a new jobs cull at Twitter had affected 4,400 of the company's 5,500 contract employees, according to Casey Newton, the author of the tech industry newsletter Platformer.
Functions affected included content moderation, marketing and "core infrastructure services that keep the site up and running".
The move follows the firing of more than 3,700 full-time Twitter employees at the beginning of the month, days after the social media platform was bought by Musk.
One contractor affected by the cuts, the data scientist Melissa Ingle, said she learned of her fate on Saturday evening when her access to Twitter's systems was suddenly cut off.
"Laid off from Twitter on a Saturday evening. No explanation, just all access removed. Happy holidays, everyone!" she tweeted.
Sarah Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California and content moderation expert who worked as a staff researcher at Twitter earlier this year, told Associated Press that cutting contracted moderators would have a "tangible impact on the experience of the platform".
The tech news site the Verge reported on Friday that Omnicom, one of the world's biggest advertising firms, had recommended clients "pause activity on Twitter in the short term" because of issues such as layoffs in Twitter's trust and safety teams and a surge in "verified" fake accounts that had taken advantage of Musk's offer of a blue tick - validating an account as trustworthy - for $8 a month.
The subscription service was suspended on Friday after a rash of controversial tweets by blue tick accounts including some impersonating high profile brands. Musk has told Twitter staff that the company, which relies on advertising for 90% of its revenues, has suffered "a massive drop in revenue" because of companies pausing spending.
Twitter has been approached for comment.
Musk also confirmed on Twitter that his Starlink satellite internet business had bought adverts on the platform to check its effectiveness. "SpaceX Starlink bought a tiny - not large - ad package to test effectiveness of Twitter advertising in Australia & Spain," he tweeted, adding that Starlink had done the same for Facebook, Instagram and Google.
Earlier in his B20 appearance, the world's richest man said he was dealing with the challenges facing Tesla with "great difficulty". This week Musk is also expected to testify in a case brought by a Tesla shareholder against a $52bn compensation package he was awarded in 2018.
"I'm really working at the absolute most amount that I can work from morning til night, seven days a week. So, this is not something I'd recommend, frankly," he said.