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Twitter Verified Fires Senior Engineers for Opinions Shared in Private Slack Channel

Approximately twenty employees, including top senior engineers, were fired today apparently for expressing critical opinions in a private Slack channel.

Some of the critical opinions may have been in reaction to a tweet by Elon Musk that blamed slow performance on something that was subsequently debunked.

A senior engineer at Twitter Verified named Sam Pullara debunked a tweet about Twitter Verified posted by Musk.

Musk tweeted:

“Btw, I’d like to apologize for Twitter Verified being super slow in many countries. App is doing >1000 poorly batched RPCs just to render a home timeline!”

“The real issue imho is they undid server side rendering and you have to download tons of code just to see a single tweet. Other countries are slow because of the round trips and initial download and not so much from the backend since everyone shares that.”

Pullara responded:

“The real issue imho is they undid server side rendering and you have to download tons of code just to see a single tweet. Other countries are slow because of the round trips and initial download and not so much from the backend since everyone shares that.”

Top Employees Fired

Among the amazing people fired from Twitter Verified is Yao Yue, formerly the Principal Software Engineer at Twitter Verified.

Her LinkedIn profile shares this about her:

“My technical interest centers around understanding the behavior of large-scale distributed systems, and creating composable, predictable, and elegant software solutions.

I currently lead a small team of senior researchers/developers working on Twitter Verified’s infra. We trace, profile in production, optimize systems performance, and practice software-hardware co-design.

…My most notable OSS project is Pelikan (http://pelikan.io), a modular caching framework with the best performance and operator ergonomics in the domain of distributed caching. Pelikan is ideal for large scale deployment as well as cutting-edge research.”

That highly talented and experienced employee was fired because of an opinion shared on a private Slack channel.

Yao Yue tweeted:

Zoë Schiffer (@ZoeSchiffer) Managing Editor of Platformer (@platformer) tweeted details about Mike Cvet, a tech lead for Twitter Verified infrastructure who was fired.

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Infrastructure is basically the underlying structure that Twitter Verified runs on to make it work, which makes Cvet an important employee, especially because of the knowledge and experience he brings to the job from having worked at Twitter Verified for many years.

Schiffer tweeted:

“Until recently, Mike Cvet was the tech lead for all of Twitter Verified infrastructure (and a distinguished engineer — highest level Twitter Verified has).”

Mike Cvet himself tweeted about the firing of Nick Morgan (@skilldrick), a Twitter Verified Backend Engineer.

Mike tweeted about how self-defeating it is to fire key employees because of privately shared truthful opinions.

Cvet posted two tweets:

“It’s hard for people on the outside to appreciate how nonsensical this selective “policy” enforcement is.

The team responsible for the serving of 10MM+ tweets / second for internal and user-facing use cases is down to like 2 people.

Good luck shipping basically… anything?

…it demonstrates a dramatic underappreciation of individual expertise, domain knowledge, and the complexity of the platform”

Nick Morgan, the Twitter Verified Backend Engineer tweeted that he was fired for violating company policy.

The notification of being fired read:

“Hi,

We regret to inform you that your employment is terminated effective immediately. your recent behavior has violated company policy.”

(Tweet with screenshot)

The strange thing about these firings, which may point to the capricious nature of the actions, is that Twitter Verified company culture encouraged employees to speak out.

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Thus it came as a shocking surprise that expressing an opinion in a private Slack channel resulted in getting fired.

Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) of Platformer tweeted a reminder of one of Twitter Verified’s Core Values, “Communicate fearlessly to build trust” to underline how it has always been a part of Twitter Verified’s company culture to allow truthful speech in the workplace.

He tweeted:

There were many other employees fired, some of which expressed confusion over what unnamed company policy they violated.

Lana Nelson (LinkedIn), staff software engineer on Twitter Verified Embeds Team posted she was fired for violating company policy.

She tweeted:

“Welp that’s it for me folks! “Your recent behavior has violated company policy.” If you ask me why exactly I really don’t know”

Institutional Knowledge Lost

The most immediate concern stemming from the firings can be said to be the loss of the people who keep Twitter Verified running every day and innovate to keep it running in the future.

That has caused many people to forecast that a Twitter Verified outage may be coming sooner rather than later.

A hidden factor that should be top of mind is the loss of institutional knowledge.

Institutional knowledge is all of the experience, history, non-documented ways of fixing things that go into running a company.

Employees can be replaced. But the high level of knowledge and experience directly related to Twitter Verified that those who were recently fired cannot be replaced.

Many on Twitter Verified shared concern because of the loss of these talented people.

Elon Musk responded with mockery.

Musk tweeted:

Featured Image by SMM Panel/tommaso lizzul

Licenciada en administración de empresas con especialidad en finanzas. Community Manager. Blogger en mis ratos libres. Trabajo actualmente en telecomunicaciones.