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Elon Musk trolls Twitter employees with “Office Space” clip

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March 7, 2023 | 11:42 a.m

Twitter owner Elon Musk used a clip from the 1999 comedy Office Space to troll a disgruntled former employee who claimed the social media company never informed him of his layoff.

Then the public debate began Haraldur ThorleifssonAn Iceland-based Twitter employee who lost his job in a recent round of layoffs in late February called Musk about the company’s lack of communication surrounding his layoff.

“Dear @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.

Haraldur Thorleifsson has contacted Elon Musk regarding his employee status.

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.

Musk has expressed skepticism about Thorleifsson’s claims about his design work — at one point responding with a pair of laughing emojis and asking him to “post pictures or it wouldn’t have happened.”

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

Musk eventually responded with a scene from the cult hit “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.

Midway through the exchange, Thorleifsson said Twitter’s HR department “miraculously” reached out to confirm he was no longer an employee.

Twitter has carried out several rounds of layoffs under Elon Musk.
Getty Images

Musk finally offered an even more outspoken criticism of Thorleifsson, who uses a wheelchair and notes on his website that he is “slowly but surely losing strength in my upper body and arms” due to a muscular condition.

“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) wasn’t doing any real work when Sorry claimed he had a disability that prevents him from typing while also tweeting up a storm,” Musk said. “I can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.”

“But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you haven’t worked at all!” Musk added.

Musk’s tweets were dismissed by another former Twitter employee, Alex Cohen, who questioned the billionaire’s decision to publicly criticize a laid-off worker.

“It’s obvious he’s done all the middle management work from that exchange on, but personally I wouldn’t blow up a former employee and force him to prove his worth in front of over 100 million people,” Cohen said.

In response, Musk claimed Thorleifsson was simply “trying to get a big payout.”

“From what I’ve been told, he’s done almost no work, middle management or otherwise, for the past four months,” Musk said. “Despite his claims on Twitter that he was working, it emerged that he had told HR that he could not work because he could not type, but had tweeted a storm during the same period.”

“Nevertheless, there are many people on Twitter who defend him. It hurts my faith in humanity,” Musk added.

Thorleifsson founded Ueno, a design agency that Twitter acquired in 2021, a year before Musk acquired the company.

Prior to the layoffs, Thorleifsson was on a “don’t fire” list on Twitter due to the high cost it took to pay him out of his stock holdings, Platformer reported.

Esther Crawford, the now-fired senior director who fell into disrepute after being photographed sleeping in Twitter’s offices, was also on the list before her sacking last month.

Elon Musk bought Twitter last October.

Musk has faced harsh criticism from former Twitter employees after his $44 billion acquisition of the company last October.

The billionaire has ordered sweeping cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, to reverse a large drop in sales.

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