According to several reports, Elon Musk, Twitter's new owner, intends to fire nearly half of company staff by the end of this week in an effort to reduce costs. The billionaire also hopes to increase Twitter's ability to monetize its user base by starting to charge for verification badges as early as next week.
Of Twitter's 7,500 employees, Musk reportedly intends to fire about 3,700 by Friday. The remaining employees will be required to report back to the office on Monday since Musk also intends to end Twitter's policy of allowing employees to work remotely.
One of the options calls for providing the laid-off employees with 60 days' worth of severance compensation, while the precise scope and circumstances of the layoffs are still up in the air. Twitter's revamped $8/month subscription package, which now includes the verification badge as a bonus, could go live as soon as Monday. That's from a source, all users will now be able to access Twitter's edit tool, which is currently paywalled and protected by a Twitter Blue subscription.
Politicians among others have criticized Musk's proposal to charge $8 per month for a verification badge.
"One guy's business plan for a $44 billion over-leveraged purchase is apparently to run around and individually ask people for $8. Remember that next time you question yourself or your qualifications," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted. "The next time you doubt your abilities or qualifications, keep that in mind."
As Twitter braces for potential backlash from advertisers concerned about looser content moderation under Musk's leadership, the company has decided to lay off employees and start charging a monthly fee for verification badges.
Musk, who describes himself as a "free speech absolutist" has also stated his desire to wean Twitter off of its reliance on ads, which account for 90% of its total revenue. He has, however, only hazily described additional benefits for the updated Twitter Blue subscription, aside from a verified badge.
The billionaire has also tried to woo advertisers to stay on the platform by promising he will not allow it to become a "free-for-all hellscape." On Tuesday, he said subscribers will see fewer ads, have the ability to share longer videos or audio clips, and receive "priority in replies, mentions & search."
But the big names in advertising are still dubious and are reportedly advising businesses to hold off on Twitter advertising until issues with content filtering are resolved. Musk suggested that businesses that are pulling their Twitter ads over concerns about content moderation are either against free speech or are only doing so because of political correctness in a poll he tweeted out on Wednesday. The poll asked whether advertisers should support "freedom of speech or Political 'correctness'."