Billionaire Elon Musk publicly mocked a disabled former Twitter employee this week, insinuating he was exaggerating his disability and saying he was “not doing any real work”.
The swap marks a new low for Musk, who has laid off thousands of people since taking over Twitter in a botched $44 billion deal that left the company in debt.
Haraldur Thorleifsson, who was a Senior Director at Twitter, just wanted to know if he was fired or not. According to Thorleifsson, he contacted Twitter’s human resources department to find out if he still had a job after losing access to work accounts. When that didn’t work, he reached out to Elon Musk directly on Twitter.
“Dear @elonmusk, 9 days ago my work computer was cut off along with approximately 200 other Twitter employees,” Thorleifsson tweeted. “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?”
Thorleifsson is the founder of the Ueno agency. He sold it to Twitter in 2021 and took a job with the social media giant. According to Thorleifsson, who uses a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy that is beginning to affect the upper body and arms, according to his site-He survived several rounds layoffs after Musk took office. In late February, Twitter laid off hundreds of other workers, some of whom were high-ranking employees who had founded companies acquired by Twitter.
“What work did you do? Musk answered Thorleifsson’s question about his employment status.
Thorleifsson explained that it would break his confidentiality agreement to explain himself. Musk replied that he had permission, and Thorleifsson detailed his work and several accomplishments. “Pictures where it didn’t happen” musk replied. Then he answered to himself with a YouTube clip of a shooting scene from office space.
“To be clear. You have every right to fire me. That’s absolutely fair and fine,” Thorleifsson said. in response. But usually people are notified when it happens. Maybe with a letter or something.
Which didn’t happen for 9 days despite multiple emails to you and others.
Hours later, Musk replied to a thread criticizing him for his handling of the event, mocking Thorleifsson for his disability. “The reality is this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no real work, pretended as an excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, but was simultaneously tweeting a storm,” he said. declared. said on Twitter. “I can’t say I have much respect for that.”
Thorleifsson’s diagnosis of muscular dystrophy and his use of mobility devices are well-documented facts of his life and a motivation behind his charitable activities in his home country of Iceland, where he established a fund that builds wheelchair ramps. The day after his back and forth with Musk, Thorleifsson detailed his disability on Twitter.
“I’m not able to do manual labor (which in this case means typing or using a mouse) for long periods of time without my hands starting to cramp,” he said. “However, I can write for an hour or two at a time. This wasn’t an issue in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior manager and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, giving them strategic and tactical advice.
“But as I told HR (I assume this is the confidential health information you are sharing) I cannot work as a practical designer for the reasons described above. I am typing this on my phone btw.It’s easier for [me] because I only need to use one finger,” he said. “Hope this helps! Let me know if you’re going to pay what you owe me? I think you can afford it?”
Haraldur Thorleifsson did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.