Layoffs, ultimatums and the ongoing saga of blue ticks: Elon Musk's first month on Twitter |  CNN Business

Layoffs, ultimatums and the ongoing saga of blue ticks: Elon Musk’s first month on Twitter | CNN Business


Sunday officially marks a month since the world’s richest man took over as Twitter’s helm.

Around that time, Elon Musk launched mass layoffs and gave remaining employees a cryptic ultimatum, reinstated the accounts of controversial figures including former President Donald Trump, and launched — and then rejected — a plan to bill employees. Twitter’s signature blue checkmarks.

After spending months in a fruitless legal battle to back out of his original proposal to buy Twitter, Musk made his first big splash into the company’s offices on October 26, carrying a sink. (In a video of the incident shared on Twitter, he wrote: “Walking into Twitter HQ – let it go!)

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

Almost immediately after Musk made his dramatic $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, he fired former CEO Parag Agrawal and other executives. He then made himself CEO and sole administrator of the platform, in accordance with a securities deposit.

The dramatic management shakeup, however, was just the first taste of the major personnel overhaul to come. Musk began sweeping layoffs across the company, cutting its overall workforce by around 50% in the space of days.

On the eve of Nov. 3 and continuing through Nov. 4, many former Twitter employees began posting on the platform that they had been blocked from their company email accounts as job cuts began. to unfold in a very dramatic and public way. .

The layoffs impacted departments such as ethical AI, marketing and communications, research, public policy, and more. As workers said goodbye to colleagues online (many shared blue hearts and hello emojis to signal they had lost their jobs on Twitter), Musk remained largely silent, at least on the job cuts .

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

In a late-night internal email after the massive staff cuts, Musk called on Twitter’s remaining employees to commit to “extremely hard” work or leave the company with severance pay.

“Going forward, to build a revolutionary Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore,” Musk wrote in the note sent Nov. 16. “It will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only outstanding performance will be a passing grade.

In the memo, Musk goes on to explain how Twitter will be “much more engineering-focused” and then gives the staff an ultimatum. “If you are sure you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below,” directing the staff to what appears to be an online form.

Musk said any employee who didn’t do so by 5 p.m. ET the following day, Thursday, would receive a three-month severance package.

In the shadow of the mass exodus of workers, a departure of advertisers was also brewing.

Since the Musk takeover, a handful of brands – ranging from General Mills to North Face to the Volkswagen Group – have confirmed a pause in social media advertising as civil society organizations raise new concerns about the direction of the company under Musk.

About a week after taking over the business, Musk said she saw a “massive drop in revenue.”

“Twitter has seen a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, although nothing has changed with content moderation and we’ve done everything we can to appease the activists” , he said in a tweet on November 4. at the top! They are trying to destroy free speech in America.

Another aspect of Twitter that Musk has quickly shaken up is one of the platform’s most familiar features to its users: the blue verified checkmarks that have long been used to confirm the authenticity of government officials, journalists and critics. other public figures.

“Twitter’s current lords and peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue tick is bullshit,” Musk tweeted on November 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 tick on their profiles. The update, as listed on Apple’s App Store at the time, said users would now have to pay $7.99 per month for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription to receive a check mark on the platform. -shape,” just like the celebrities, businesses, and politicians you already follow.

Days after the subscription service rolled out, Twitter was inundated with a wave of celebrities and corporate impersonators who quickly played around with the new system to impersonate prominent brands and personalities.

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

In the wake of the chaos, Musk eventually announced that he would delay rolling out the subscription service until the end of the month.

“Relaunched Blue Verified until November 29 to ensure it is rock solid,” Musk tweeted on November 15.

On Nov. 24, Musk gave a slightly different target date for the relaunch, Dec. 2, and offered more details on the future service, including a range of tick colors to indicate the type of verified account.

On Nov. 19, Musk restored former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, nearly two years after he was permanently banned following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The move came shortly after Twitter restored 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 Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Before restoring Trump’s Twitter account, Musk posted a poll asking users on the platform if Trump should be reinstated – where 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 previously said he would stay on his own platform, Truth Social, instead of joining Twitter, and has yet to tweet since his account came back online.

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

After conducting another Twitter poll, Musk said Nov. 24 that he would begin restoring most previously banned Twitter accounts starting next week. It would mark its most ambitious move yet to overturn the social media platform’s policy of permanently suspending users who repeatedly break its rules.

The Thanksgiving Day announcement came after most respondents voted in favor of his poll on whether to offer “blanket amnesty to suspended accounts, provided they have not broken the law or engaged in blatant spamming”.

Again, Musk tweeted that “people have spoken.”

His recent decisions to reinstate 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 his takeover of Twitter, Musk said the social media company “will form a content moderation board with widely diverse views.”

“No major content or account reinstatement decisions will take place until this board meets,” Musk added.

It is not immediately clear whether this council was ever created, convened, or involved in the decision-making behind the return of Trump and the formerly banned accounts.

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