Elon Musk has accused “activist groups” of “pressuring” advertisers into leaving the social media giant and causing a drop in revenue, as the company carries out sweeping job cuts to save money.
The billionaire tweeted that the groups were trying to “destroy free speech” by raising concerns around his plans to loosen content moderation rules on the site.
Mr Musk’s outburst comes as Twitter began widespread staff cuts around the world on Friday, with suggestions as many as half of its more than 7,500 staff could be axed in what the company called “an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path”.
In his first tweet since the cuts began, Mr Musk said: “Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
“Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
Online safety groups and campaigners have expressed concerns about Mr Musk’s plans to allow more free speech on the site and reverse permanent bans given to controversial figures – including former US president Donald Trump.
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
There have been reports that some advertisers have been concerned about the possibility of such figures returning and appearing alongside their adverts on the site.
This is a worry for Mr Musk as advertising currently accounts for almost all of Twitter’s earnings.
Mr Musk is thought to want to drastically reduce costs at the company after completing his 44 billion dollar (£39 billion) takeover of the platform last week and has since tweeted “we need to pay the bills somehow”.
Alongside the cuts to the workforce, he has proposed charging a monthly subscription fee for users to be verified on the platform in an effort to create more revenue streams for the company and move it away from its reliance on advertising.
An internal email sent to staff on the job cuts on Friday said the action to cut jobs was “unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward”.
Staff have been told that everyone will receive an email by 9am PST (4pm GMT) on Friday, with those who are affected by the cuts set to receive the message on their personal email address rather than the one associated with their work.
Staff have since taken to Twitter to confirm they are leaving the company, with some revealing they have been logged out of their work laptops and internal messaging systems.
Twitter employee Simon Balmain told Sky News: “We started hearing strong rumours about layoffs a few days ago, which I’m sure everybody heard about because it leaked quite quickly to the press.
“Late last night we all received an email saying there is going to be a large reduction in headcount and the email stated that if we would be laid off, it would go to our personal email and if not to our work email.
“And it was about an hour after that, this is in the early hours of the morning UK like 2am, that I noticed my work laptop was remotely wiped and my email access and Slack access were both revoked.
“And then I got in touch with a few colleagues, and it seemed a lot of people were seeing the same thing.”
Others are using the platform to say goodbye and thank their colleagues.
Chris Younie said he could not access his work email account, tweeting: “Well this isn’t looking promising”.