Haraldur Thorleifsson has had a long week. On Monday, the Icelander tweeted at Elon Musk asking if he still had a job at Twitter, since he had been locked out of his work laptop and hadn’t been able to get in touch with Twitter human resources. On Tuesday, Musk tweeted that no, Thorleifsson did not still have a job, mocked him, and publicly doubted that he really suffered from muscular dystrophy. Thorleifsson patiently explained that he did. On Wednesday, Musk tweeted with his tail between his legs, apologizing to Thorleifsson. On Friday, though, in a bright spot of good news, the president of Iceland offered Thorleifsson, who goes by Halli, a gift: socks.
“Socks for #cancer prevention and research! Halli has earned his free socks in so many ways, but those of you who are able to please purchase a pair here,” tweeted Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson. He added a picture of himself wearing the socks in question.
Lest you think this is a bit of malicious dogpiling by Iceland’s leader, Thorleifsson was delighted. He retweeted Jóhannesson and tweeted himself, “In other news, @PresidentISL offered to give me some nice socks today. Which is the best thing you can give someone.”
Thorleifsson is the founder of Ueno, a digital agency acquired by Twitter in 2021, where he worked as a senior designer until Musk laid him off, despite his presence on a “do not fire” list of employees with financial contracts that would be disastrous for Twitter. He’s also the recipient of Iceland’s 2022 Person of the Year award. When his company was acquired, he chose to receive his compensation in wages so as to pay a higher tax rate for the betterment of Iceland’s social safety net.
After emailing Twitter HR and Musk himself asking if he had been laid off along with thousands of others, Thorleifsson took to Twitter Monday night to catch the CEO’s attention, writing, “Dear @elonmusk 👋 9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees. However, your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve not answered my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?” The tweet went viral, accruing tens of thousands of likes and retweets.
Musk did respond, quizzing Thorleifsson on the details of his work but eventually dismissing any attempted explanation with a simple “🤣 🤣”. It was only after that tweet that human resources responded to Thorleifsson, confirming he had, in fact, lost his job.
Not content to flex on one of his employees, Musk called Thorleifsson “the worst” and added, “The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm. Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that. But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place!”
Thorleifsson responded with a heartfelt litany of his illness: “I have muscular dystrophy. It has many effects on my body. Let me tell you what they are: My legs were the first to go. When I was 25 years old I started using a wheelchair. It’s been 20 years since that happened. In that time the rest of my body has been failing me too. I need help to get in and out of bed and use the toilet.”
Musk said he ended up calling Thorleifsson to hash things out. The next day, the CEO wrote, “I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful,” Musk tweeted. “He is considering remaining at Twitter.”
And now Thorliefsson is getting some new socks.