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- The video featuring a man claiming to be a Twitter employee who was laid off after receiving a meme was created by a comedian and does not depict real events.
Around 7,500 employees were laid off from Twitter on Nov. 4 following Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform.
Several employees shared on social media they were locked out of their work accounts before receiving formal termination notices.
But one story circulating online claims an employee was let go in a manner apropos of a social media company — via a meme.
A Nov. 4 Instagram post shared a screenshot of a tweet reporting on the supposed firing by meme.
"This is an email an (ex) Twitter employee is claiming to have received from (Elon Musk’s) new head of HR," the tweet said. "It seems real, and I sure hope it is."
It features a screenshot of an email, which says it was sent from Hannah Hotzenberg at Twitter to Matt Shaver at a Twitter email address.
"Hi Matt, please see the attached image. Your email account will terminate at 6 PM PST today," the email said. It includes a meme that’s a collage of images of Musk laughing, with text that says, "Time to leave the nest. You’re fired."
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The email does not depict real events and originated in a satirical video shared on social media by a comedian, not a Twitter employee.
There also doesn’t appear to be anyone named Hannah Hotzenberg working for Twitter. A search on Google and LinkedIn yielded zero results for Hotzenberg, and a message sent to the email address for her in the screenshot was returned as undeliverable.
Shaver, an Ohio-based comedian, uploaded a video Nov. 4 to several of his social media accounts pretending to be a recently laid off Twitter employee.
One version shared on TikTok received more than 11 million views and several comments from people questioning if it was real.
In his satirical video, Shaver said, "This is a huge surprise because I’ve been working there for over five years. I helped build Twitter, I’m an engineer. I helped build the feature that shows you one of Elon’s tweets every time you open the app."
Shaver claimed in a follow-up video that Twitter sent him another meme as a cease-and-desist notice.
Three days after his initial video went viral, Shaver clarified on his Twitter page that both videos were satire and not meant to be taken seriously.
"It’s insane to me how many people thought they were real and how many more people wanted them to be real so they had someone to hate (me or Elon Musk)," he said. "Thank you to the 25% that sent me advice or offered to help."
We rate the claim that a Twitter employee was laid-off after receiving a meme Pants on Fire!
The New York Times, "Elon Musk Begins Layoffs at Twitter," Nov. 3, 2022
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