In the days following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, a number of news reports focused on his staffing cuts, which resulted in the ouster of executives and rank-and-file employees alike.
At the same time, a number of pranksters seized on the prevailing media narrative by pretending to be fired Twitter employees. One of the most notable examples featured a pair of individuals who posed with boxes in a social media post claiming that they had recently received a pink slip from Musk.
CNBC reporter Deirdre Bosa accepted the post at face value and included a reference to the individuals in a subsequent report. In an on-air mea culpa on Monday, she admitted that her research fell short.
“I’d like to address something that CNBC reported Friday,” she said. “I tweeted that a team of data engineers was laid off at Twitter after speaking to two people outside of headquarters who claimed that they were.”
Bosa added that the men “were not real employees” and acknowledged that she “didn’t do enough to confirm” the authenticity of the post.
“They got me, and that is on me,” she added. “We, I regret the mistake.”
In her now-deleted tweet, Bosa wrote: “It’s happening Entire team of data engineers let go. These are two of them.”
Musk himself referenced the parody post with an off-color tweet on Friday.
Ligma Johnson had it coming 🍆 💦 pic.twitter.com/CgjrOV5eM2
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
A number of other Twitter users took part in the ensuing gag, claiming to be fired staffers with generally crass or humorous names.
“Journalists – my name is Amanda Hugnkis, and today I was fired by Elon Musk himself at Twitter HQ,” one such post stated. “Willing to talk on the record. DMs are open.”
The same account later claimed that her colleague — “Ben Dover” — would also be available to discuss the matter with reporters.
Some news reports asserted that Musk cynically decided to fire employees just before they were set to receive stock grants on Tuesday as part of a prior deal to enhance their pay.
Musk responded to a tweet referencing one such article by The New York Times, simply stating: “This is false.”