Elon Musk apologizes after mocking disabled Twitter employee he laid off
Elon Musk is sorry.
The billionaire mogul apologized for mocking a fired Twitter employee who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair.
Musk had accused Haraldur Thorleifsson of using his disability as an “excuse” to do “no actual work” after the Iceland-based software engineer complained that he had not heard about his job status for nine days.
“I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation,” Musk tweeted late Tuesday to his 130 million followers, referring to Thorleifsson by his nickname.
“It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful.”
The Twitter boss also revealed he spoke with Thorleifsson on a video call about a possible return to the beleaguered social media platform.
“He is considering remaining at Twitter,” Musk tweeted, adding it is “better to talk to people than communicate via tweet.’”
The Post has sought comment from Thorleifsson and Musk.
Thorleifsson, 45, was among several high-profile individuals who were apparently let go as part of Twitter’s latest round of job cuts. He had tweeted at Musk on Monday after logging in to his computer to do some work — only to find himself locked out, along with 200 others.
“Dear @ElonMusk, 9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees. However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve not answered my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?” Thorleifsson tweeted.
“What work have you been doing?” Musk replied.
Thorleifsson responded with a list of accomplishments during his tenure at Twitter.
His personal website notes that he “led an innovation team” that “spearheaded” the Twitter Communities project and helped to develop an edit button on the platform.
But Musk was skeptical. At one point he responded with a pair of laughing emojis, insisting that he post “pics or it didn’t happen.”
Thorleifsson fired back by noting the company had “locked [his] computer.”
Musk eventually replied with a scene from the 1999 comedy “Office Space,” in which two outside consultants ask a soon-to-be-fired employee, “What would you say you do here?”
“Would you say that you’re a people person?” Musk tweeted.
Thorleifsson noted during his back-and-forth with Musk that Twitter’s human resources department reached out to him and informed him that he was no longer employed by the San Francisco-based company.
Musk then tweeted that Thorleifsson “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.”
Musk’s criticisms of Thorleifsson ignited pushback from Twitter users who are ordinarily sympathetic to the tech mogul, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion last October.
Esther Crawford, the Twitter executive who was famously pictured sleeping on the office floor in the early days of Musk’s stewardship of the company, tweeted: “Cruelty is the worst.” Crawford had also been canned in the latest purge.
When a Twitter user claimed to have worked with Thorleifsson and vouched for his “next level” work ethic, Musk replied that he gave him a video call “to figure out what’s real vs what I was told.”