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Internal Slack messages show Twitter employees melting down over Musk buyout

"We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled."

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Leaked messages posted to the business communication platform Slack revealed Twitter employees melting down in the days leading up to and following news that Elon Musk had bought the social media platform.

On Monday, it was announced that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO would be buying Twitter for $44 billion dollars. In leaked Slack messages viewed by Andy Ngo for the New York Post, Twitter employees were seen ranting about Musk.

One site reliability engineer, who reportedly identifies as a nonbinary transgender and plural person said: "Physically cringy watching Elon talk about free speech."

One senior staff software engineer said, "We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled."

"We’re all spinning our wheels, and coming up with worst case scenarios (Trump returns! No more moderation!). The fact is that [Musk] has not talked about what he’s planning on doing in any detail outside of broad sweeping statements that could be easily seen as hyperbolic showboating," he added, also calling Musk an a**hole.

One senior staff video engineer announced that he would be quitting at the conclusion of the takeover, saying "Not the place to say it perhaps, but I will not work for this company after the takeover."

According to Ngo, some employees eventually warned that their Slack messages could be searched, and moved their future conversations to the encrypted chat application Signal.

Leading up to the deal, some employees backed Musk’s stance on free speech, which has been stated as a primary reason for him buying the social media platform.

One reliability engineering manager said Musk's views on free speech "is cover for 'I want to not be held accountable for saying or amplifying harmful things.'"

Another engineer said that "self-reported censorship is sometimes just horrible people f—king around and then find[ing] out," with a senior content strategist responding, "and it doesn’t happen often enough."

According to Ngo, that senior content strategist, had previously worked as a "left-wing political operative outside of Twitter," and led many of these Musk-criticizing conversations.

While many of the conversations were critical of Musk, some defended their new owner, or at least expressed less outrage over the buyout.

"I don't know much about him, I don't really care. I would just love free speech to be [the] highest priority. I don’t care who leads that. Especially for minorities like myself, I had no rights at all in my home country," one woman in the design department said.

One software engineer wrote, "I do think it’s obvious that our policies are biased (everyone has a bias) and I would personally like to see more balance. IDK if Musk is the right person to do that but the idea of someone who might be less biased towards the things we are already biased on is something that I like."

Some Twitter employees didn't keep their outrage just to employee chat channels. Instead, many bashed their new owner on the social media platform. In response to the backlash, Musk wrote simply, "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."

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