Elon Musk apologises after taunting Twitter employee over employment status

After the Twitter CEO was criticised for making fun of Haraldur Thorleifsson and doubting his disability, Elon Musk made a U-turn and apologised for his “misunderstanding”

March 08, 2023 01:07 pm | Updated 01:07 pm IST

File photo of Twitter CEO Elon Musk

File photo of Twitter CEO Elon Musk | Photo Credit: NTB

Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday apologised for his “misunderstanding” after he taunted a Twitter employee with muscular dystrophy who had publicly reached out in order to ask whether he was still employed by the company.

Haraldur Thorleifsson, who said he was a senior director before the company was bought by Mr. Musk, was locked out of his system for over a week and unable to get a clear answer about his employment status from the human resources department. He publicly reached out to Mr. Musk on Twitter for clarification.

The Twitter chief asked Mr. Thorleifsson to disclose his roles and responsibilities, but proceeded to make fun of him by posting laughing emojis, funny video clips, and even agreed with a user who called the employee “useless.”

Furthermore, Mr. Musk doubted the employee’s disability and claimed that Mr. Thorleifsson was confronting him for a “big payout.”

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“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) 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,” Mr. Musk tweeted in response to another user on Tuesday.

Mr. Thorleifsson later learned that he was no longer a Twitter employee, and criticised the company for not notifying him.

In turn, Mr. Thorleifsson published a thread explaining the details of his disability and what roles he took on during his time at Twitter both before and after Mr. Musk’s takeover.

As Mr. Musk was slammed for his comments, he tweeted an apology on Wednesday, saying that he had misunderstood the situation due to incorrect information. He claimed that he was in touch with Mr. Thorleifsson

“I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. 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,” said Mr. Musk.

Mr. Thorleifsson was yet to comment on whether he would be returning to Twitter, but tweeted that he was planning to start a restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The news comes after Twitter’s latest round of layoffs which saw around 200 employees being fired. The social media company under Mr. Musk’s leadership has fired more employees in spite of promising that layoffs were over.

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