Elon Musk apologizes for mocking a disabled Twitter employee

Photo: Britta Pedersen Pool (Getty Images)

Twitter CEO and overlord Elon Musk apologized to the previous one employee Haraldur Thorleifsson for mockery his disabilityproving that even technology’s biggest villain has a heart, or at least the sense of smelling a huge incoming lawsuit.

In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, Musk stated that he had spoken to Thorleifsson – who goes by “Halli” – on a video call “to find out what is real versus what I was told”, admitting that it was better to actually speak to people in person than communicate via tweet. The billionaire went on to say he had misunderstood the situation in which Thorleifsson, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, added that he had given the former employee his job back.

“I want to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding about his situation. It was based on things I was told that weren’t true or, in some cases, true but didn’t make sense,” Musk tweeted. “He’s considering staying with Twitter.”

Musk’s apology came after he publicly called Thorleifsson “the worst” in a tweet Monday, saying he was “not doing any real work” which he later removed. Gizmodo was able to view a cached version of the tweet Google.

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Screenshot: Jody Serrano/Gizmodo

The CEO of Twitter quickly became the meanest person on his social media network due to his interaction with Thorleifsson, a genuinely sweet human being who has won multiple times “Person of the Year” awards in Iceland, his homeland. Thorleifsson sold his company, Ueno, to Twitter in 2021, opting to be paid in wages so he could pay a higher tax rate to benefit Iceland’s social system.

Musk and Thorleifsson began going back and forth on Monday after the former employee contacted Twitter’s CEO to ask if he still had a job. Thorleifsson had lost access to his work computer in recent weeks and suspected he was one of 200 Twitter employees fired. He had contacted Twitter HR and Musk himself to ask if he still had a job, but had received no response. As a last resort, he decided to tweet to his Mercurial boss.

“Dear @elonmusk 👋 9 days ago, access to my work computer was cut off along with about 200 other Twitter employees,” Thorleifsson said Monday. “However, your head of HR cannot confirm whether I am an employee or not. You haven’t answered my emails. If enough people retweet, maybe you can reply to me here?”

His idea worked and after tens of thousands of likes and retweets he got his boss on the phone. After asking what Thorleifsson was working on and demanding photos as proof, Musk laughed at the Ueno founder. During their exchange, Thorleifsson revealed that Twitter HR had finally called him back and told him he had been fired.

The Twitter CEO was later laughed at Thorleifsson for his disability and said the employee could not be fired because he was not working in the first place.

“The reality is that this man (who is independently wealthy) was not doing any real work, claiming as an excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, but was tweeting up a storm at the same time. I can’t say I have much respect for that,” Musk said tweeted on Tuesday. ‘But was he fired? No, you can’t get fired if you didn’t work in the first place!

Musk added that Thorleifsson had confronted him about this on Twitter to get a large payout, claiming that the employee had “done almost no work, mid-level or otherwise, in the last four months.”

Thorleifsson countered Musk’s comments about wanting a large payout, saying he resorted to tweeting publicly because neither Musk nor anyone else on Twitter had responded to his private messages.

He also responded to Musk’s cruel tweet, explaining the effects muscular dystrophy had on his body. The founder of Ueno stated that he had been in a wheelchair for 20 years since he was 25 and needed help getting in and out of bed and going to the toilet. As for his hands, which Musk expressed “great concern” about, Thorleifsson said he told HR he couldn’t do any manual work for a long time because his hands started cramping.

“However, I can write for an hour or two at a time. This wasn’t a problem in Twitter 1.0 as I was a senior director and my main job was to move teams forward, give them strategic and tactical guidance,” said Thorleifsson. “I’m typing this on my phone, by the way. That is easier because I only have to use one finger.”

Like other founders whose companies had taken over Twitter’s previous management, Thorleifsson was reportedly on a “do not shoot” list because it would be too expensive to pay it out.

Thorleifsson claims Musk had every right to fire him, but was unhappy with how the company was going. It is unclear whether he will take up Musk’s offer to stay on. Thorleifsson previously stated that the next thing he was working on was whether Twitter would pay him what he owes under his contract.

“You had every right to fire me. But it would have been nice to let me know! Thorleifsson said on Tuesday.


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