By Elise Hsu, Staff Writer
Before the layoffs all started, CEO of BuzzFeed Jonah Peretti sent a memo to his employees, claiming that he wanted them to hear it “from [him] directly instead of from the press.” The memo stated that 15% of the employees of BuzzFeed would be laid off. When the general public found out, it became enraged, not by the news of the layoffs themselves, but instead the news of who was being laid off.
Included in the approximately 220 employees that were let go were: all but two members of the entertainment team, all seven members of the national desk, both journalists in the health department, all six members of the national security desk, and all but one member of the LGBTQ+ department. The layoffs also went international, as BuzzFeed’s office in Spain was shut down.
Many Twitter users were upset upon hearing this news; they accused BuzzFeed of using the layoffs to target LGBTQ+ and POC employees, with one user expressing that “[BuzzFeed] didn’t really fire anyone who truly deserved it,” and another noticing that the media giant “made a reputation on the backs of very talented queer and POC creators/editors/etc and then got rid of them all once that reputation was cemented enough to get away with it.” Many also posted that they enjoyed the content created by those who were laid off and found it odd that some of the most important departments were affected.
These layoffs are just another example of the exploitation of LGBTQ+ community and people of color. These people made quality content and helped propel BuzzFeed into popularity and success, but ultimately, when the time came to let employees go, they got the axe. It’s as though the company played the diversity card to seem relatable only to eventually take it from the deck discard it. This move, although calculated, was not popular and will continue to face scrutiny.
Despite these events, there is still hope for those who have been laid off. A computer science student named Alexandre Mouriec took to Twitter to share his most recent creation– a website that features past BuzzFeed employees and their area of expertise– in an attempt to help them get hired. The day when companies truly understand their consumers could not come soon enough.