SAN FRANCISCO — If you’re not told you’re fired, are you really fired? On Twitter, probably. And then, sometimes, you get the job back – if you want it.
Haraldur Thorleifsson, who until recently was employed by Twitter, logged on to his computer last Sunday to work – only to find himself banned, along with 200 others.
He might have figured, as others before him have in the chaotic months of layoffs and firings since Elon Musk took over the company, that he was out of a job.
Instead, after nine days of no response from Twitter on whether or not he was still employed, Thorleifsson decided to tweet Musk to see if he could get the billionaire’s attention and get an answer to the Schrödinger’s job situation.
“Maybe if enough people retweet, you’ll reply to me here?” he wrote on Monday.
He finally got his answer after a surreal Twitter exchange with Musk, who went on to ask him about his work, question his disability and need for accommodations (Thorleifsson, who goes by “Halli,” has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair) and tweeted that Thorleifsson has a “prominent, active Twitter account and is rich” and “the reason he confronted me publicly was to get a big payout”. While the exchange was going on, Thorleifsson said he received an email saying he was no longer employed.
Late Tuesday afternoon, however, Musk changed his mind.
“I want 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 tweeted. “He’s considering staying on Twitter.”
I want 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 staying on Twitter.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 7, 2023
Thorleifsson did not immediately respond to a message for comment after Musk’s tweet. In an earlier email, he called the experience “surreal”.
“You had every right to fire me. But it would have been nice to let me know!” he tweeted to Musk.
Thorleifsson, who lives in Iceland, has around 151,000 Twitter followers (Musk has over 130 million). He joined Twitter in 2021, when the company, under previous management, acquired his startup Ueno.
He was praised in the Icelandic media for choosing to receive the purchase price in salary rather than a one-off payment. That’s because in this way he would pay higher taxes to Iceland to support its social services and safety net.
Thorleifsson’s next move: “I’m opening a restaurant in downtown Reykjavik very soon,” he tweeted. “It’s named after my mother.”
Twitter did not immediately respond to a message for comment.