Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk has wasted little time putting his stamp on the influential social network.
Immediately after Musk bought Twitter on October 27, the billionaire began making changes to the platform. A lot has happened under Musk, from firing executives to proposing a new content oversight council.
But Twitter’s saga with Musk was chaotic even before he took over. The two sides agreed that he would buy the company in April, but Musk later tried to back out of the deal, leading Twitter to sue him. After months of messy preliminary investigations, the SpaceX and Tesla executive finally closed his acquisition just ahead of a deadline that would have forced him to take on Twitter in court.
“The bird has been released,” Musk, who has more than 112 million followers on Twitter, tweeted the night he completed his $44 billion purchase.
Here’s the latest on Musk’s Twitter takeover:
November 4: Musk says that Twitter’s revenue has dropped massively
Since Musk’s takeover, several major advertisers, including Tesla rival General Motors, food company General Mills and pharmaceutical company Pfizer, have temporarily suspended their advertising campaigns on Twitter. Musk tweeted that Twitter’s revenue has dropped massively, which he blamed on activist groups pressuring advertisers. In his tweet, Musk did not say how much Twitter’s revenue has fallen, and he did not identify the activists. Musk also said in the tweet that Twitter has not changed its content moderation policies.
Musk also appeared at the Baron Investment Conference, where he noted that Twitter was struggling with revenue challenges before the acquisition and he was trying to exit the deal.
His remarks came after Twitter began laying off workers. Late Friday, Musk tweeted that “there were no options when the company is losing over $4 million a day.” Without specifying how many people were laid off or what percentage of the workforce, Musk added that they were “offered a three-month severance.”
Civil rights groups that met with Musk earlier this week talked about the layoffs.
– First of all, there is no way to maintain the integrity of elections if you reduce the capacity for monitoring #Twitter Layoffs“, tweeted Rashad Robinson, president of the racial justice group Color of Change. The group is part of a coalition of more than 60 organizations known as #StopToxicTwitter who call on big advertisers to stop spending and invest in content moderation.
The Volkswagen Group is said to be suspending ad spending because their ads may appear on the platform in addition to problematic content.
November 3: Musk seeks ways to cut costs, lawsuit filed
Musk wants to cut costs and reduce Twitter’s reliance on advertising.
Reuters, citing two sources with knowledge of the matter and an internal Slack message, said Musk directed the Twitter team to find more than $1 billion in infrastructure cost savings.
The company is looking at other ways to make money outside of advertising, including “paid” videos and paid direct messages, The New York Times reported, citing two people familiar with the matter and internal documents.
Musk is already making changes to Twitter’s work culture. Bloomberg reports that Musk has removed “rest days” from Twitter’s employee calendars and plans to reverse the company’s telecommuting policy. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter told its employees in an email that layoffs will happen. A class-action status lawsuit filed Thursday accused Twitter of violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which requires large companies to give at least 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs, as Bloomberg previously reported.
November 2: Musk is reportedly cutting half of Twitter’s workforce
Musk plans to cut about 3,700 jobs at Twitter, or half of the social media company’s workforce, Bloomberg reports. Sources told the news outlet that the affected workers must report their fate by Friday.
The unidentified sources said Musk also plans to reverse the company’s current work-from-anywhere policy and require remaining employees to report to the office.
In one scenario being considered, to reduce Twitter’s workforce, laid-off employees are offered 60 days of severance pay. Twitter users have been bracing for layoffs since Musk announced his offer on Twitter in April. One report proved it Musk planned to cut 75 percent of Twitter’s jobs.
November 1: Musk proposes charging for verification
In a series of tweets, Musk presented the idea that Twitter charges $8 per month for a verified blue checkmark as part of its subscription agreement. The company’s subscription service, known as Twitter Blue, currently costs $5 a month, but doesn’t include verification as a benefit.
Twitter currently does not charge for verifying accounts with a blue check mark, and the mark is intended to be given to accounts that the company defines as “significant, authentic and active.” The blue checkmark is intended to help users determine whether a celebrity, journalist or other public figure’s account is fake or not.
Musk tweeted that the price would be adjusted by country, and that the subscription would include “replies, mentions and search priority, which is necessary to combat spam/scam” and “the ability to send long videos and audio.” He also said users will see “half as many ads.”
Earlier in the day, The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter Blue subscribers will lose access to ad-free articles from publishers like Vox, the Los Angeles Times and Insider. Different prices for the Twitter Blue subscription have been reported several times, and the company is also said to have considered increasing the subscription price to $20 per month.
Based on Musk’s tweets, it’s unclear whether verified users would have to pay for the subscription or lose their blue checkmark. Musk tweeted that there would be a “secondary identifier” for public figures, as is now used for politicians.
The company’s customer manager, Sarah Personette, also revealed in a tweet that she resigned on Friday.
Meanwhile, Twitter said it had removed 1,500 accounts since Saturday for posting hateful content.
October 31: CEO Official, Board Fired, Layoff Plans, No Trump Decision Yet, Content Moderation Restricted
Days after Musk dubbed himself “Chief Twit” on his Twitter profile confirmed that he is the CEO of the company through a securities declaration. Other changes to Twitter’s management are also underway. A related securities filing shows Twitter’s board was dissolved the day Musk took over and identified Musk as the company’s “sole director.”
He also plans to lay off 25 percent of Twitter’s workforce, The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed sources.
Musk, who has previously said he would overturn former US President Donald Trump’s permanent Twitter ban, continues to face questions about whether he will follow through. Twitter launched Trump from its platform in 2021 after the deadly US Capitol Hill riot over fears that his speeches could incite more violence.
“If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump would come back on this platform, Twitter would be minting money!” Musk tweeted.
Twitter also restricted access to internal tools for some Trust and Safety employees, Bloomberg reported, limiting their ability to moderate content and address misinformation before next week’s US election. They can apparently still edit or delete posts that can cause real harm.
“This is exactly what we (or any company) should be doing in the midst of corporate change to reduce the potential for insider risk. We continue to monitor our rules extensively,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity tweeted in response to the Bloomberg story.
October 30: Musk Toys with Checkmark Changes and Vine Revival Tweet Misinformation
Musk has been busy proposing changes to Twitter. He tweeted a question about whether Twitter should bring back Vine, the short-form video app that Twitter shut down in 2017.
Twitter also plans to charge $20 a month for its Twitter Blue subscription service, and authenticated users would lose their blue checkmark if they don’t do so within 90 days, The Verge reported, citing unnamed sources. Platformer’s Casey Newton said Twitter is considering charging verified users a $5 monthly fee if they want to keep their blue checkmarks.
Musk also tweeted and then removed a link to an article that contained a baseless conspiracy theory about last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in San Francisco. The article came from the Santa Monica Observer. The fact-checking website Media Bias/Fact Check stated that the outlet publishes right-wing misinformation.
October 29: Twitter battles spike in racist slurs
Twitter is trying to crack down on anonymous accounts that started tweeting racial slurs hours after Musk took over Twitter.
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity, tweeted that the company has “seen that a small number of accounts have been posting a large number of tweets that contain profanity and other derogatory terms.” He added that “over 50,000 tweets that repeatedly used a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.”
“Bottom line up front: Twitter’s policies haven’t changed. Hateful behavior has no place here. And we’re taking action to stop this organized effort to make people think we have,” he tweeted.
October 28: Twitter forms a content moderation board
Advocacy groups have expressed concern that Musk’s control of Twitter would allow more hate speech and misinformation. Musk has vowed publicly that he doesn’t want Twitter to become a “free-for-all hellscape,” but has also said he opposes “censorship that goes far beyond the law.”
Musk said the company will form a content oversight council with “widely diverse views.” The company will not make any major content decisions or account returns before the council meeting, he tweeted.
The securities filing on October 28 also stated that Twitter’s shares will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter, a publicly traded company, went private.
October 27: Musk takes over Twitter and fires executives
Musk became Twitter’s new owner and reportedly fired key executives at the company, including Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s director of legal policy, trust and security.
Earlier in the day, Musk tweeted a letter to advertisers. The billionaire who once tweeted that he hated advertising now posted that “advertising done right can delight, entertain and inform you.”
Musk met with employees throughout the week, went to Twitter headquarters for a photo shoot, and changed his profile to “Chief Twit” before news broke that the deal had been finalized.
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