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Ex-Tweep mocked by Musk for asking if he'd actually been fired

This internet soap opera continues

Updated A Twitter employee unable to work out if he still had a job - even after a call to the head of HR - took to tweeting CEO Elon Musk to resolve his employment status. It went about as well as expected - if not worse.

Haraldur Thorleifsson (a.k.a., Halli), said in a tweet yesterday that his work computer was locked nine days ago with the group of roughly 200 Twitter employees laid off at the end of February. He said he received no confirmation of his lay-off, and reckoned even HR didn't know the answer. 

"Maybe if enough people retweet you'll answer me here," Thorleifsson asked his boss; And answer he did, by asking what work Thorleifsson had been doing at Twitter. 

"I would need to break confidentiality to answer this question here," Thorleifsson tweeted in response, to which Musk said speaking openly on Twitter about workplace issues was "approved, you go ahead." 

Thorleifsson was vague, responding that he had led the effort to save $500k on a SaaS contract while helping to close others, and helped prioritize design projects across the company "to make sure we were able to deliver with a small team." 

When Musk asked for particulars, Thorleiffson said the SaaS contract in question was with Figma, and that he had been working with "all active design projects." Musk's response was concise, if not petulant: A pair of laugh-crying emoji. 

The brief conversation between Musk and Thorleifsson ended with Twitter HR contacting Halli shortly after the exchange to confirm he had been chopped, the ex-Tweep said.

Can't leave well enough alone

Along with the aforementioned work, Thorleifsson said he was also responsible for leading design critiques across the company, was the hiring manager for all design roles and was helping on efforts to attract younger users to the platform, all from his role as a senior director in Twitter's product design team.

Thorleifsson is no stranger to product design, having started a design firm called Ueno in 2014 that has worked on projects for companies like ESPN, Apple, Walmart, Google and Twitter - so extensively, in fact, that Twitter bought the company in 2021 to fold it into its in-house design team. 

The sale of Ueno to Twitter made Thorleifsson one of the highest tax payers in Iceland because he chose to take his cut of the earnings from the sale as wages instead of in stock options and other less tax-intense forms of earning, Icelandic media reported. Thorleifsson's philanthropic efforts after the sale were also what earned him Person of the Year awards from a quartet of Icelandic news networks and publications.

Thorleifsson became an employee of Twitter after the sale, and his Tweets indicate he's still owed money per his employment contract.

Musk, however, couldn't leave well enough alone, and said in a tweet that Thorleifsson, who he described as "independently wealthy" due to the sale of his company, "did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm. Can't say I have a lot of respect for that."

"But was he fired? No, you can't be fired if you weren't working in the first place!" 

As Thorleifsson pointed out in a Twitter thread in response to Musk, he has muscular dystrophy that has been steadily getting worse over the years.

While his health problems began in his legs, Thorleifsson said his hands have begun getting weaker, too. "I'm not able to do manual work for extended periods of time without my hands starting to cramp." That wasn't a problem under the old Twitter regime, Thorleifsson said, as his job mostly had to do with guiding teams and helping with planning. 

Of the Musk demand that even Twitter managers should be coding like engineers, Thorleifsson said he told HR that he was unable to work as a hands-on designer because of his muscular dystrophy. Due to the uncertainty, Thorleifsson said he asked for and got guidance from his manager weekly on what projects he should be working on, "and then I proceeded to do those things. Every one of them." 

Twitter still owes Thorleifsson money he's under contract for - at least according to Thorleifsson's own tweets. Just add it to the pile of unpaid bills Twitter is racking up and we'll see if this one actually gets paid.

The Register reached out to Thorleifsson to see if he plans to take action against Musk or Twitter, or Musk for sharing what Thorleifsson said is "confidential health information" on a public forum, but we haven't heard back. ®

Updated to add

Someone's clearly had a word with Elon.

"I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation," the billionaire Tesla tycoon tweeted hours after today's debacle. "It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful. He is considering remaining at Twitter."

The CEO also said: "I just did a videocall with Halli to figure out what's real vs what I was told. It's a long story."

That's the shot. The chaser? "Better to talk to people than communicate via tweet." The owner of Twitter right there.

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