Elon Musk apologizes for mocking disabled Twitter employee

Elon Musk makes a funny face.  Twitter CEO comes under fire for mocking disabled Icelandic employee.

Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool (Getty Images)

Twitter CEO and Supreme Overlord Elon Musk apologized to the former employee Haraldur Thorleifsson to mock his handicapproving that even tech’s biggest villain has a heart, or at the very least the sense to sense a huge lawsuit looming.

In a Tweeter Tuesday afternoon, Musk said he spoke with Thorleifsson — who goes by the name “Halli” — on a video call “to figure out what’s real versus what I’ve been told,” admitting that talking to people face to face is better than communicating via tweet. The billionaire went on to say that he misunderstood the situation in which Thorleifsson found himself, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, and added that he offered the former employee a return to his job.

“I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of her situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or in some cases true, but not meaningful,” Musk tweeted. “He plans to stay on Twitter.”

Musk’s apology came after he publicly called Thorleifsson “the worst” in a tweet on Monday and said he “did no real work”.“, which he later deleted. Gizmodo was able to see a cached version of the tweet at Google.

Image from article titled Elon Musk apologizes to disabled Twitter employee he publicly mocked

Screenshot: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

The Twitter CEO quickly became the most vile person on his social media network for his interaction with Thorleifsson, a truly lovely human being who won several “Person of the Year” Awards in Iceland, his country of origin. Thorleifsson sold his business, Ueno, to Twitter in 2021 and opted to be paid in salary so he could pay a higher tax rate to benefit Iceland’s welfare system.

Musk and Thorleifsson began their back and forth on Monday after the former employee contacted the Twitter 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 who were made redundant. He had reached out to Twitter HR and Musk himself to ask if he still had a job but had not received a response. As a last resort, he decided to tweet his mercurial boss.

“Dear @elonmusk 👋 9 days ago my work computer was cut off along with about 200 other Twitter employees,” Thorleifsson said on Monday. “However, your HR manager is unable to confirm whether I am an employee or not. You haven’t replied to my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet, you’ll respond to me here?”

His idea worked, and after receiving tens of thousands of likes and retweets, he uploaded his boss. After asking what Thorleifsson was working on and asking for photos as proof, Musk poked fun at the Ueno founder. Throughout their exchange, Thorleifsson revealed that Twitter HR eventually got back to him and told him he was fired.

The Twitter CEO then poked fun at Thorleifsson for his disability and said the employee could not have been fired since he was not working in the first place.

“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no real work, pretended as an excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, while simultaneously tweeting a storm. I can’t say that I have a lot of respect for that,” Musk tweeted Tuesday. “But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place!

Musk added that Thorleifsson had confronted him on Twitter in order to get a large payout and claimed that the employee had “hardly worked in the past four months, middle management or otherwise.”

Thorleifsson pushed back against Musk’s comments about wanting a big payout and said he resorted to tweeting in public because neither Musk nor anyone else on Twitter responded to his private messages.

He also responded to Musk’s cruel tweet and explained the effects of muscular dystrophy on his body. The Ueno founder said 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 bathroom. As for his hands, which Musk showed “great concern about,” Thorleifsson said he told HR he couldn’t do manual labor for long periods of time because his hands were starting to cramp.

“However, I can write for an hour or two at a time. That wasn’t an issue in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior director and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, giving them strategic and tactical advice,” Thorleifsson said. “I’m typing this on my phone by the way. It’s easier because I only need to use one finger.

Like other founders whose companies Twitter’s previous management had acquired, Thorleifsson would have been on a ” do not pull “ list because it would be too expensive to pay for it.

Thorleifsson argues that Musk had every right to fire him, but was unhappy with how the company proceeded. It is unclear whether he will accept Musk’s offer to stay. Thorleifsson previously said the next thing he’s working on is whether Twitter will pay him what’s owed to him under his contract.

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

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