John Oliver blasts Elon Musk for ‘decimating his staff and degrading Twitter’

US talk show host John Oliver has criticised Elon Musk‘s management of Twitter in the weeks since the Tesla billionaire took over the social media platform.

In recent weeks, some of Musk’s most contentious moves have been the introduction of a system where users can pay for verified checkmarks, and the axing of the company’s staff from 7,500 to around 3,750.

On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight (20 November), Oliver said Twitter has been a “total mess” since Musk took the reins, arguing that “many of the worst people on Twitter” seem to think his takeover is a sign that they can unleash vitriol.

“One analysis [found] the use of a racial slur spiking nearly 500 percent in the 12 hours after his deal was finalised, which is pretty shocking,” the host said, “even for a website where a regular trending topic is sometimes just ‘The Jews’.

“You’ll log in and see 30,000 people tweeting about ‘The Jews’ on a Tuesday afternoon, and you do not want to click to find out why.”

He added: “Clearly, things are changing on Twitter right now. For instance, the site no longer seems to be adding explanations to trending topics, a feature that previously helped add greater context and combated misinformation.”

Oliver said: “He’s decimated his staff and degraded his product, and sure, he could try to sell what’s left of Twitter, or it can continue functioning worse than before, as his free-for-all digital clown town.

“And while the potential collapse of this site has been sad for the workers and for those who have relied on it, there is undeniably something a little satisfying about a guy who was so desperate to be perceived as cool and funny on the internet that he paid $44bn (£37.2bn) to make it happen, only to discover that he still somehow couldn’t afford it.”

The Independent has contacted Musk’s representatives for comment.

John Oliver (HBO)
John Oliver (HBO)

Last week, Musk posted a meme of a grave with a Twitter logo on the headstone in response to the hashtag #RIPTwitter trending on the social media platform.

His post came as employees were locked out of their offices after hundreds of them refused to agree to an “extremely hardcore” ultimatum issued by Musk.

It required workers to agree to work “long hours at high intensity” in order to build “Twitter 2.0”, or else be fired.

Donald Trump’s Twitter account was also reinstated early on Sunday (20 November) after being banned for almost two years.