Elon Musk tweeted ‘Is this legit?’ in response to footage showing a senior Twitter employee claiming his colleagues are ‘F**king commies’ who censor conservatives’ speech but not liberals’.
Musk left the comment on Tuesday on a Twitter thread where journalist Benny Johnson posted the footage.
Johnson responded by saying that Twitter confirmed the video’s authenticity, posting an unverified photo of an internal message from Twitter warning employees about being targeted by reporters.
Siru Murugesan was recorded saying Twitter ‘does not believe in free speech,’ and that the company culture is extremely far left where workers are ‘commie as f**k’ and ‘hate, hate, hate’ Elon Musk’s $44billion takeover.
Johnson also shared a photo of an inactive Twitter account that he claimed belonged to Murugesan.
Musk is currently in the process of buying Twitter in a $44billion deal that he says he hopes will make the social media platform a bastion of free speech.
In a shockingly frank conversation, filmed over several encounters, Murugesan said the firm even started to turn him left-wing after he joined.
His comments come amid a firestorm at Twitter as staff fear they will face the ax or be stopped from censoring certain content when the Tesla billionaire takes over.
Musk has vowed to return the platform to a safe space for users to post what they want as well as ‘defeat the spam bots’ and ‘authenticate all humans’.
Meanwhile he fueled speculation he could be seeking to negotiate paying less for the social media giant as he told a Miami conference an agreement at a lower price wouldn’t be ‘out of the question’.
Siru Murugesan, described by Project Veritas as a senior engineer at Twitter, has been caught on camera by an undercover operative admitting the company has a left-wing bias, does not believe in free speech, and that staffers ‘hate’ Elon Musk
Murugesan said that staff at Twitter ‘hate’ Musk’s takeover, and described them as ‘super left, left, left, left, left’
The engineer said that Musk ‘believes in free speech’ – unlike many others at Twitter
Murugesan told the undercover reporter that ‘there is bias’ at Twitter against right-wing figures
Elon Musk said his purchase of Twitter on Friday was ‘temporarily on hold’. He has accused the company of a left-wing bias
Murugesan was filmed by a female Project Veritas journalist spilling the beans on the tech giant’s left-wing agenda, including they censor right wing posts.
‘Twitter does not believe in free speech,’ he said, adding that his co-workers ‘hated’ Musk’s $44 billion bid to take control of the company.
‘They hate it,’ he said. ‘Oh my God. I’m at least like okay with it. But some of my colleagues are like super left, left, left, left, left.’
Asked how his co-workers responded to the news of Musk’s buyout, Murugesan replied: ‘They’re like, ‘this would be my last day if this happens’.’
Murugesan said Twitter’s office politics were so left-leaning they shaped his own views, and changed him. Like I started working at Twitter and became left,’ he said.
‘I think it’s just like the environment, like you’re there and you become like this commie.’ Murugesan said that right-wingers were openly censored.
‘Ideologically, it does not make sense like, because we’re actually censoring the right, and not the left,’ he told the undercover reporter.
‘So, everyone on the right wing will be like, ‘bro, it’s okay to stay, just gotta tolerate it.’ ‘The left will be like, no, I’m not gonna tolerate it. I need it censored or else I’m not gonna be on the platform.
‘So, it does that on the right. It’s true. There is bias. It is what it is today,’ said Murugesan.
Musk himself has frequently complained about a left-wing bias on Twitter, noting that right-wing figures like Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are banned while extremists on the other side are allowed to remain.
Murugesan said ‘a lot has changed’ since Musk began the takeover process on April 25. He said employees were worried for their jobs, because his companies run differently to Twitter’s ‘socialist’ workplace.
‘You know, our jobs are at stake,’ he said. ‘He’s a capitalist and we weren’t really operating as capitalists, more like very socialist. Like we’re all commie as f***.’
Murugesan said that Twitter’s work culture was ‘socialist’ and ‘commie as f***’ – in contrast to Musk’s strong capitalist instinct
The engineer told the undercover reporter that many of his colleagues were up in arms at Musk’s proposed takeover
Murugesan said the company’s operating procedures were extremely lax.
‘Essentially like everyone gets to do whatever they want, no one really cares about like [operating expenses], like capitalists, they care about numbers or care about how to make the business more efficient,’ he said.
‘But in Twitter, it’s like mental health is everything, like if you are not feeling it, you can take a few days off. People have taken months off, they will come back.
‘But you always like, like do your best at any time. And that’s the culture and you know we’ll run the business as much as possible. But at the same time, you know, like the profits weren’t a lot.’
Murugesan said that many staffers had openly tried to thwart the takeover, worried in particular about Musk’s promise to reinstate people like Trump.
Critics warn that it will see a surge in hate speech on the platform; supporters say it is an important move for free speech. ‘We did all we could, to like revolt against it,’ said Murugesan. ‘A lot of employees revolted against it.
‘But at the end of the day, [the] board of directors have the say, and then they acted on their best interests cause they didn’t wanna get sued.
Leslie Berland, the chief marketing officer, read out questions submitted by Twitter staff
The day that Musk’s takeover was announced – April 25 – Twitter employees warned of a ‘mass exodus’ of staff, with one participant at an ‘All Hands’ meeting describing the world’s richest man as ‘a person with questionable ethics’.
Staff were invited to the meeting via videolink, hosted by CEO Parag Agrawal and Bret Taylor, the chair of the board.
Questions submitted by staff during the 45-minute meeting were read out by the chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland.
One question asked, in another recording obtained by Project Veritas, was: ‘How does the board and Mr Musk plan on dealing with a mass exodus considering the acquisition is by a person with questionable ethics?’
Taylor replied that ‘one of the themes of today is continuity’.
He said: ‘The question of attrition: As Parag stated, one of the themes of today is continuity, and ensuring that Parag and this leadership team continues to operate the business successfully on behalf of our users, on behalf of our customers, and that has obviously been a big topic of discussion at the board.
‘And as I mentioned, an area that is important to Elon Musk as well, because of the importance of Twitter as a service.’
Agrawal said he had seen many questions about the process, about share schemes, and about working conditions in the future. He said much was still to be clarified.
He said he would try and arrange a staff forum with Musk, and said that he would remain at the company as CEO, at least until the deal was finalized.
‘He wants Twitter to be a powerful, positive force in the world, just like all of us,’ Agrawal said of Musk.
‘He believes Twitter matters.’
He urged employees to ‘operate Twitter as we always have,’ adding that ‘how we run the company, the decisions we make and the positive changes we drive — that will be on us, and under our control.’
Twitter employees are sharing their concerns in internal chatrooms, messages seen by the New York Post show.
‘We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled,’ one senior staff software engineer reportedly wrote on the company’s internal Slack channel.
The staffer called Musk an ‘a**hole,’ and tried to console his colleagues.
‘We’re all spinning our wheels, and coming up with worst case scenarios (Trump returns! No more moderation!).
‘The fact is that [Musk] has not talked about what he’s planning on doing in any detail outside of broad sweeping statements that could be easily seen as hyperbolic showboating,’ he added.
One site reliability engineer wrote that it was ‘physically cringy watching Elon talk about free speech.’
A senior staff video engineer announced his plans to quit, saying: ‘Not the place to say it perhaps, but I will not work for this company after the takeover.’
The employee unrest begun as soon as Musk’s successful takeover was confirmed.
‘I feel like im going to throw up..I rly don’t wanna work for a company that is owned by Elon Musk,’ one staffer said, according to New York Times reporter Talmon Smith.
Smith’s source told him that it was ‘absolutely insane’ in the internal chat rooms.
Another Twitter employee reportedly complained: ‘I don’t rly know what I’m supposed to do…oh my god, my phone’s been blowing up…We have a meeting about it at 5pm…the CEO is going to address everyone about it’ (it=elon).
‘I hate him, why does he even want this?’
Musk vowed to protect free speech on Twitter, ‘defeat the spam bots’ and ‘authenticate all humans’ as he welcomed the acquisition.
He also revealed he planned to ‘enhance the product with new features’ and ‘make the algorithms open source to increase trust’.
But within the company, there was turmoil at the announcement.
‘I feel like he’s this petulant little boy and that he’s doing this to troll…he doesn’t know anything about our policies and what we do…his statement about our algo was f****** insane…
‘Were just gonna let everyone run amok?…nobody knows,’ the employee said, according to the New York Times.
Some Twitter staff were ‘openly rebelling’ against Musk, one observer noted, posting a screen shot of Twitter’s official Github site and posting a public response entitled ‘The Algorithm’ – with zero code.
On Thursday, the internal unrest at Twitter continued, with Parag Agrawal, the CEO, announcing leadership changes and a hiring freeze.
On Friday morning, Musk threw his Twitter takeover bid into chaos by tweeting that the deal was ‘temporarily on hold’ while he investigated the prevalence of fake and spam accounts on the social media site. He doubled down on his stance on Tuesday morning.
Musk said he was still committed to the $44 billion purchase of the social media company pending an investigation into how many spam accounts are on the site
Elon Musk, pictured at the Met Gala with his mother Maye, has joked that ‘owning the libs’ isn’t cheap after claiming to put his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on hold
Musk disputes their claims that bots represent around five per cent of their users, believing the figures could be ‘much higher’ than 20 per cent.
Musk fired off a tweet this morning stating: ‘20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher.
‘My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.’
In a follow-up tweet, Musk speculated that bots could make up at least half of Twitter’s users, more than 10 times the company’s official estimate.
Analysts as well as insiders widely believe that Musk’s tweets on Friday were an attempt to gain leverage and negotiate a lower price for his takeover, which has been approved by Twitter’s board but won’t close for several months.
Even Donald Trump, commenting on his Truth Social platform on Friday, suggested that Musk is looking to negotiate a better deal to buy Twitter after agreeing to pay $54.20 per share.
The former US president said the only reason the Tesla CEO had not called off the Twitter deal yet was because of the $1 billion break-up fee.
‘There is no way Elon Musk is going to buy Twitter at such a ridiculous price, especially since realizing it is a company largely based on BOTS or Spam Accounts,’ Trump wrote as he added jabs at the rival social media company.
‘If it weren’t for the ridiculous Billion Dollar breakup fee, Elon would have already been long gone,’ he added.
The Tesla CEO, who last month offered $44billion for the tech platform, disputes their claims that bots represent around five per cent of their users
Former President Donald Trump was among many who speculated that Musk put the buyout on hold in the hopes of negotiating a better deal
Analysts as well as insiders widely believe that Musk’s tweets on Friday were an attempt to gain leverage and negotiate a lower price for his takeover
This week, Musk has also sparked fierce debate after saying he would allow Trump back on Twitter if and when he takes the reins, in line with his previous declarations that he planned to err on the side of free speech rather than bans and censorship.
Trump has repeatedly stated that he has no plan to go back to Twitter after he was removed from the platform following the January 6 Capitol riot.
Markets have plunged since the deal was approved on April 25, making Twitter’s valuation under the terms seem ever richer in comparison to similar companies.
Musk’s tweet on Friday claiming the deal was on hold had the effect of sending Twitter shares plunging, and boosting Tesla stock, which he is using as collateral to finance the deal, in effect putting Musk in a much stronger negotiating position.
The spread between the offer price and the value of Twitter shares had widened in recent days, implying less than a 50 percent chance of completion, as investors speculated that the downturn would prompt Musk to walk away or seek a lower price.
‘Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,’ Musk told his more than 92 million Twitter followers on Friday morning.
‘To find out, my team will do a random sample of 100 followers’ of the microblogging site, Musk tweeted, inviting others to repeat the process and ‘see what they discover.’
‘If we collectively try to figure out the bot/duplicate user percentage, we can probably crowdsource a good answer.’
Musk tweeted he had ‘relied upon the accuracy of Twitter’s public filings’ in reply to a follower who asked why he had not thought of this before offering to buy the company.
Under the terms of Musk’s contract with Twitter, he is entitled to ask the company for information on its operations following the signing of the deal.
But this is meant to help him prepare for his ownership of Twitter, not to carry out due diligence and reopen negotiations.
Twitter is planning no immediate action against Musk as a result of Musk’s comment, people familiar with the matter said.
The company considered the comment disparaging and a violation of the terms of their deal contract, but was encouraged by Musk subsequently tweeting he was committing to the acquisition, the sources added.
Musk came to Twitter’s office for a meeting on May 6 as part of the transaction planning process, a Twitter spokesperson said.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal also weighed in, tweeting: ‘While I expect the deal to close, we need to be prepared for all scenarios.’