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Twitter execs exit, hirings halt as Musk buy looms

Twitter executive Kayvon Beykpour tweeted that he was on paternity leave when he got word not to return to his job at the tech firm being bought by Tesla chief Elon Musk.. ©AFP

San Francisco (AFP) - Twitter confirmed Thursday that two senior executives are heading for the exit and it has paused most hiring, as Elon Musk stands poised to become the global messaging platform's new owner.

Kayvon Beykpour, a general manager who leads research, design and engineering at Twitter, is leaving along with head of products Bruce Falck, a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

Beykpour however said he was ousted from the San Francisco-based tech company.

"The truth is that this isn't how and when I imagined leaving Twitter, and this wasn't my decision," Beykpour, who is on paternity leave, said in a tweet.

Twitter chief Parag Agrawal "asked me to leave after letting me know that he wants to take the team in a different direction," he added.

Twitter also confirmed that, effective this week, it is pausing all hiring except for business-critical roles.

Musk's $44-billion deal to buy Twitter was announced last month but still needs the backing of shareholders and regulators.

The takeover is expected to close later in 2022, with Musk -- who runs space exploration endeavor SpaceX and electric automaker Tesla -- stepping in as its boss at least for a little while. 

Musk is on record saying he would lift the ban Twitter slapped on Donald Trump, contending that kicking the former US president off the platform "alienated a large part of the country."

Musk's endorsement of a Trump return triggered fears among activists that Musk would "open the floodgates of hate."

Trump has stated publicly he would not come back to Twitter if permitted, sticking instead with his own social network, Truth Social, which has failed to gain traction.

Trump was booted from Twitter and other online platforms after supporters, fired up by his tweets and speech alleging election fraud, attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly bid to stop Joe Biden from being certified as winner of the presidential election two months earlier.

Musk reasoned that permanent bans at Twitter should be rare, and reserved for accounts that are spam, scams or run by software "bots."

Activist groups have called on Twitter advertisers to boycott the service if it opens the gates to abusive and misinformative posts with Musk as its owner.

The fate of Twitter's top attorney, deemed a moral champion of the platform, has been in doubt since Musk tweeted displeasure with content moderation she had carried out.

The lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, has led efforts to battle bullying and posts that could lead to real-world harm such as the US Capitol riot.

She was involved in the decision to ban Trump, and others including removing political advertising from the app.

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Dive Deeper:
Twitter fires two top managers, hiring halts amid Elon Musk buyout turmoil
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One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Get all your news in one place