A look back at Elon Musk’s chaotic first month on Twitter


On Sunday it is officially a month ago that the richest man in the world took over on Twitter.

At the time, Elon Musk instigated mass layoffs and issued a cryptic ultimatum to the remaining staffers, reinstated the accounts of controversial figures, including former President Donald Trump, and launched—and then kicked off—a plan to charge Twitter’s iconic blue checkmarks. to bring.

After months of a botched legal battle to get out of his initial proposal to buy Twitter, Musk made his first splashy entrance into the company’s offices on Oct. 26, sink in hand. (In a video of the incident shared on Twitter, he wrote: “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!)

Since then, the billionaire has seemingly left no stone unturned during his whirlwind first month as “Chief Twit.” Here’s a look at the ways Musk (who still simultaneously serves as CEO of his other companies Tesla and SpaceX) has already made his mark on one of the world’s most influential social media platforms.

Almost immediately after Musk completed his drama-ridden $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, he fired former CEO Parag Agrawal and other executives. He then made himself the platform’s CEO and sole director, according to a securities filing.

However, the dramatic leadership shake-up was only the first taste of the major workforce overhaul that was to come. Musk began large-scale layoffs across the company, reducing the total workforce by about 50% in the space of a few days.

On the eve of Nov. 3 and into Nov. 4, countless now-former Twitter employees began posting to the platform that they lost access to their work email accounts as the job cuts began to play out in a very dramatic, public fashion.

The layoffs affected departments including Ethical AI, Marketing and Communications, Search, Public Policy and more. While the employees said goodbye to their colleagues online (many shared blue hearts and salute emojis to indicate they’d lost their jobs on Twitter), Musk was largely silent, at least about the job cuts.

In another dramatic move by the new boss, Musk publicly fired a software engineer who survived the first round of cuts, but who then questioned Musk on Twitter.

In an internal email late the night after the massive staff cuts, Musk asked Twitter’s remaining employees to commit to “extremely hardcore” work or else leave the company with severance pay.

“To build a breakthrough in Twitter 2.0 going forward and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we are going to have to be extremely hardcore,” Musk wrote in the memo sent out Nov. 16. “This means working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance is a pass.”

In the memo, Musk then outlines how Twitter will be “much more tech-driven” and then gives the staff an ultimatum. “If you’re sure you want to be part of the new Twitter, click yes on the link below,” directing staff to what appears to be an online form.

Musk said any employee who failed to do so by the next day, Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, would be fired for three months.

In the shadow of the mass exodus of workers, advertisers were also threatening to leave.

Since Musk’s acquisition, a handful of brands — from General Mills to the North Face to the Volkswagen Group — have confirmed a pause in advertising on the social network, as civil society groups raised new concerns about the company’s course under Musk.

About a week after acquiring the company, Musk said it had seen a “huge drop in revenue.”

“Twitter is experiencing a massive drop in revenue from activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though content moderation hasn’t changed and we’ve done everything we can to appease the activists,” he said in a tweet on Nov. 4. upwards! They are trying to destroy freedom of speech in America.”

Another aspect of Twitter that Musk quickly turned on his head is one of the platform’s most well-known features to its users: the verified blue ticks that have long been used to authenticate government officials, journalists and other public figures.

“Twitter’s current lords and peasants system for those who have or don’t have a blue check is rubbish,” Musk tweeted on Nov. 1. “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”

Sure enough, on November 5, Twitter launched an updated version of its iOS app that allowed users to pay a monthly subscription to receive a blue check mark on their profile. The update, as detailed on Apple’s App Store at the time, stated that users would now have to pay $7.99 per month for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription to get a tick on the platform, “much like the celebrities, companies and politicians who already follow you.”

Within days of the subscription service’s rollout, Twitter was inundated with a wave of celebrity impersonators and companies quickly playing the new system to impersonate brands and prominent figures.

Chaos ensued. In one viral example, a fake account, with a newly bought blue tick, claiming to be pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, tweeted that a crucial diabetes drug would now be free.

In the wake of the chaos, Musk eventually announced it would delay the rollout of the subscription service until the end of the month.

“Punting relaunch of Blue Verified until Nov. 29 to make sure it’s rock solid,” Musk tweeted Nov. 15.

On November 24, Musk gave a slightly different target date for the relaunch, December 2, and offered more details about the future service, including a series of colors of check marks to indicate the type of verified account.

On November 19, Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, nearly two years after it was permanently banned following the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The move came shortly after Twitter reinstated the accounts of several other controversial previously banned or suspended users, including conservative Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson, right-wing satire website Babylon Bee, comedian Kathy Griffin and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Prior to reinstating Trump’s Twitter account, Musk posted a poll asking the platform’s users whether Trump should be reinstated — to which a slim majority (51.8%) voted in favor.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” (Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”).

Trump has previously said he would stay on his own platform, Truth Social, rather than rejoining Twitter, and has yet to tweet since his account came back online.

But a change in his approach could have major political implications, as Trump has said he will pursue the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

After conducting another Twitter poll, Musk said on Nov. 24 that starting next week, he will begin restoring most of the previously banned accounts on Twitter. This would be its most far-reaching move yet to reverse the social media platform’s policy of permanently suspending users who repeatedly break the rules.

The Thanksgiving Day announcement came after most respondents voted for its poll on whether or not to grant “general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided they have not broken the law or engaged in gross spam.”

Again, Musk tweeted that “the people have spoken”.

His recent decisions to restore previously banned accounts, based on the results of his polls on the platform, are notably at odds with how Musk previously said he would handle such choices.

Just a day after acquiring Twitter, Musk said the social media company will “form a content moderation board with widely divergent views.”

“There will be no major substantive decisions or account recovery before that council meets,” Musk added

It’s not immediately clear whether that council was ever created, convened or involved in the decision-making behind bringing back Trump and previously banned accounts.

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