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A former Twitter engineer says Elon Musk wrongly fired him for leaking information to the press

Polly Thompson   

A former Twitter engineer says Elon Musk wrongly fired him for leaking information to the press
  • An ex-Twitter engineer claims that he was wrongfully fired after Elon Musk took over.
  • Randall Lin said he was accused of leaking information to the press, a claim he insists is false.

A former engineer at Twitter, now X, says that he was wrongfully fired from his job after being accused of leaking information to the press.

Randall Lin was reportedly told that he had violated the employee handbook and was let go from Twitter in February 2023, several months into Elon Musk's takeover.

Speaking to Zoë Schiffer in her newly released book, "Extremely Hardcore," Lin said that someone lied about him leaking information to the press. Schiffer is a managing editor of the tech newsletter, Platformer.

Lin had first been hired as a machine-learning engineer at Twitter in February 2020, at the age of 29.

He quickly earned a promotion to the role of staff engineer, but was unsatisfied with the company's relaxed atmosphere under former CEO Jack Dorsey, Schiffer writes.

So when Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, the engineer was on board.

Prepared to live up to Musk's high expectations for employees, he would come into Twitter's San Francisco HQ early and leave after dinner to prove himself.

He earned the new CEO's respect, impressing him with a cost-saving vision of Twitter creating their own GPUs, and becoming a regular at meetings over the platform's direction.

Lin told Schiffer that he felt Musk's decision to fire half of its staff in November 2022 was the right call, and says he saw the job as an opportunity to make history alongside a visionary CEO.

But as talented engineers critical of Musk's new policies continued to be fired, leaks started to flow from unhappy employees at Twitter HQ.

On 24 February 2023, Lin was called to meet with the corporate security team.

He says they claimed to have proof that he was the source behind two Platformer articles, written by Schiffer and a colleague — a report about the firing of an engineer who had been critical of Musk and a story about Musk's tweets being boosted after the Super Bowl.

"I've never talked to Zoë [Schiffer] in my life," he told the security team.

Schiffer corroborates this in the book, saying that she had never spoken to Lin at that point in time — and assumed that as he was so close to Musk's inner circle, he wouldn't talk to her.

But Lin's laptop was taken and the following day he was fired.

As he left, Lin claims a colleague told him that James Musk, one of Elon Musk's cousins, was telling people that Lin had admitted to leaking dozens of articles.

Fearing that he was going to be sued as well, he reached out to Schiffer for more information. She couldn't tell him anything but passed on the names of two attorneys representing Twitter employees.

"The firing was so devastating to me because I did a lot of things to both appease Elon and shield my people and coworkers from him. The fact that they didn't do that for me sat really wrong with me," he tells Schiffer in the book.

"I realized that I was valued technically but that, somewhere along the way, someone lied about me, and my technical skill wasn't enough to save me."

Lin still insists that he had no involvement in leaking information, Schiffer writes in the book.

But his story just shows "the complicated game that anyone had to play if they wanted to exist in Musk's inner orbit," she writes.

X did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment.


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