This latest announcement of tech industry cuts, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, would be the largest round of layoffs so far following a recent spate of similar actions from across the industry, most notably from Twitter under new CEO Elon Musk.
Shares of Meta, the company that also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, have taken a particularly deep dive in recent days, after several months of underperformance from the social media conglomerate that has spooked investors and resulted in a decline in revenue.
Despite Meta claiming that its financial woes are due to external factors, the company has poured more than $36 billion into its massively-underperforming Metaverse project in recent years, further concerning investors and causing a slump in share prices. It has also faced competition from TikTok and continued to contend with the ever-growing threat of regulation.
Social media companies have been facing criticism recently for their role in quashing free speech and silencing critics under the guise of fact-checking. It was exactly this type of criticism that galvanized Elon Musk into buying Twitter, with the hope that the ubiquitous social media platform would become something of a digital town square "where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner".
Meta is looking to slash 12,000 employees from its staff of 87,000, which according to the Wall Street Journal is the largest the company has seen in its 18-year history. Twitter by comparison has laid off approximately 3,750 employees of its around 7,500 employees.
In 2020 and 2021, when a large portion of work and social life moved online amidst the pandemic, Meta added more than 27,000 jobs to their workforce. In the first nine months of 2022, Meta added an additional 15,344 employees.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that the layoffs are necessary in the short term and that the massive investments in the metaverse will take about a decade to bear fruit. In the meantime, the company will have to regain the trust of its investors to avoid going the way of MySpace and Friendster.
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