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Elon Musk apologizes after mocking Haraldur Thorleifsson

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March 8, 2023 | 12:56 p.m


Elon Musk is sorry.

The billionaire apologized for mocking a fired Twitter employee who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair.

Musk had accused Haraldur Thorleifsson of using his disability as an “excuse” to do “no actual work” after the Iceland-based software engineer complained that he hadn’t heard of his job status for nine days.

“I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation,” Musk tweeted to his 130 million followers late Tuesday night, referring to Thorleifsson by his nickname.

“It was based on things I was told that were untrue or true in some cases but not meaningful.”

The Twitter boss also revealed that he had spoken to Thorleifsson in a video call about a potential return to the ailing social media platform.

“He’s considering staying on Twitter,” Musk tweeted, adding that “talking to people is better than communicating via tweets.”

The Post has reached out to Thorleifsson and Musk for comment.

Elon Musk apologized to Haraldur Thorleifsson on Tuesday.
AP

Thorleifsson, 45, was among several high-profile people who appear to have been fired as part of Twitter’s latest round of job cuts. He tweeted at Musk on Monday after logging into his computer to do some work – only to find himself locked out along with 200 others.

‚ÄúDear @ElonMusk, 9 days ago my work computer was banned along with about 200 other Twitter employees. However, your HR manager cannot confirm whether I am an employee or not. You haven’t answered my emails. Maybe you’ll reply to me here if enough people retweet?” Thorleifsson tweeted.

“What work did you do?” Musk replied.

Thorleifsson, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, learned from Twitter that he had been fired more than a week after the company banned him from the computer system.
iamharaldur/Twitter

Thorleifsson responded with a list of achievements during his tenure on Twitter.

His personal website states that he “led an innovation team” that “led” the Twitter Communities project and helped develop an edit button on the platform.

But Musk was skeptical. At one point, he responded with two laughing emojis and insisted he “post pics or it didn’t happen.”

Thorleifsson fired back by noting the company was “on hold”. [his] Computer.”

Musk eventually responded with a scene from the 1999 comedy Office Space, in which two outside consultants ask a soon-to-be-fired employee, “What would you say you’re doing here?”

“Would you say you’re a sociable person?” Musk tweeted.

Musk was criticized online for his mocking reaction to Thorleifsson.
iamharaldur/Twitter

Thorleifsson noted during his back-and-forth with Musk that Twitter’s HR department had reached out to him and told him he was no longer employed by the San Francisco-based company.

Musk then tweeted that Thorleifsson “didn’t do any real work when his apology claimed he had a disability preventing him from typing while also tweeting up a storm.”

Musk’s criticism of Thorleifsson sparked opposition from Twitter users, who normally sympathize with the tech mogul, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion last October.

Esther Crawford, the Twitter exec famously pictured asleep on the office floor in the early days of Musk’s helm of the company, tweeted, “Cruelty is the worst.” Crawford also got canned in the recent purge.

When a Twitter user claimed to have worked with Thorleifsson and vouched for his “next level” work ethic, Musk replied that he gave him a video call “to find out what’s real and what I was told.”

Thorleifsson was among around 200 programmers and software developers recently fired from Twitter.
AP

Thorleifsson is a well-known tech entrepreneur. He joined Twitter in 2021 when the company, under previous leadership, acquired his startup Ueno.

He was hailed in Icelandic media for insisting on being paid in the wake of the Twitter takeover.

Rather than opting for payment in shares or other financial instruments, which would be classified as capital gains and thus taxed at a lower rate, Thorleifsson opted to take the proceeds in the form of regular wages so he would pay a higher rate of tax.





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