The previous world’s richest man was eager to tackle the challenge after turning into disillusioned by the location’s perceived biases and content material moderation coverage.
He mentioned he wished to construct a ‘widespread digital city sq.‘ the place all voices could possibly be heard and debated in a wholesome means.
Adjustments to personnel and options, and the discharge of the “Twitter Information” took the location in a radical new path inside a matter of weeks.
However Twitter’s revolution grew to become a massacre within the course of, reducing employees by 80% to hone in on the brand new path, after which dropping customers and advertisers as a lean crew struggled to handle disinformation, trolling and impersonation on-line.
“Twitter 2.0” appears to have been hamstrung by issues from the beginning.
Because the Tesla and SpaceX founder involves mark half a yr with the location, MailOnline appears to be like on the highs and lows of Musk’s Twitter revolution.
Elon Musk purchased Twitter in October and inside days had taken it in a radical new path
Twitter’s San Francisco HQ in December 2022, a month after half the workforce was laid off
Musk arrives at Twitter HQ in October with a sink after buying the corporate. The joke performs on an web meme ‘let that sink in’, which incorporates a sink subsequent to an open door. Musk typically references common tradition. In April he modified the Twitter emblem to doge, one other meme
The staffing disaster
Twitter had ‘slightly below 8,000’ employees worldwide when Elon Musk took over in October 2022. ‘We’re about 1,500 proper now,’ he mentioned in an interview with the BBC in April.
From the beginning, Musk sought revolution over reform. In April, after turning into the biggest shareholder, he declined to affix the corporate’s board of administrators. Then-CEO Parag Agrawal mentioned this was ‘for the perfect’. Musk purchased Twitter for $44bn and on day two let Agrawal go, together with CFO Ned Segal and prime counsel Vijaya Gadde.
He then made himself the brand new CEO and dropped the board of administrators.
Inside days, 3,700 employees had been laid off. They discovered once they have been unable to log in to their emails and work computer systems. Musk defended the layoffs saying he had no alternative when the corporate was dropping $4mn a day.
Some embraced the tip of the Previous Regime and located new roles for themselves. Esther Crawford was pictured in early November in a sleeping bag on the workplace ground. She performed a key function as a challenge supervisor main on Twitter’s new verification system.
Nonetheless, the guillotine noticed common use as Musk doubled down on the adjustments to the location’s path. On the finish of February, one other 200 workers have been laid off, together with product managers, knowledge scientists and engineers.
Crawford was amongst those that found that they had been laid off when, once more, unable to log in to their work laptops and e-mail accounts. Over the weekend, Musk posted on Twitter (not aimed immediately at anyone): ‘Hope you have got an excellent Sunday. First day of the remainder of your life.’
Musk mentioned the cuts have been wanted to rein in expenditure and hold the corporate purposeful and environment friendly. He mentioned laying individuals off is ‘no enjoyable in any respect. It is painful. [But] the corporate’s both going to go bankrupt… if we don’t reduce prices instantly… This isn’t a caring, uncaring scenario. If the entire ship sinks then no person’s received a job.’
However some insiders nonetheless fear the cuts have affected their means to do their jobs. Twitter suffered 4 outages in February alone – in comparison with 9 in all of 2022.
Workers additionally say that attributable to cuts and adjustments to options, they will now not shield customers from trolling and baby sexual exploitation, nor the disinformation Twitter 2.0 got down to fight. ‘No one’s taking care’ of the work round security measures now, an engineer advised the BBC in March.
Musk contested a few of these claims within the uncommon media interview with in April, saying there was much less misinformation on the location for the reason that takeover, helped by efforts to delete automated accounts.
Former CEO Parag Agrawal (left) and CFO Ned Segal (proper) have been fired by Musk on his first day
Esther Crawford seen sleeping on the workplace ground in November, let go in February 2023
The launch of ‘extraordinarily hardcore’ Twitter 2.0
Those that survived the cuts in November have been quickly advised – in an e-mail in the midst of the night time – that they must get used to “Twitter 2.0” and the brand new ‘extraordinarily hardcore‘ means of working – or go away.
Distant work was dropped and employees moved again to the workplace. Musk reneged when extra left than anticipated. The corporate additionally requested dozens to return again to work on new merchandise after apparently firing them ‘by mistake‘.
So referred to as “days of relaxation” have been additionally dropped. Workers reported working longer hours, apparently as much as 12-hours and 7 days per week. Managers slept on the workplace on weekends. In April, Musk admitted he additionally sleeps within the workplace generally, on a sofa within the library.
Twitter’s tradition of ‘transparency’ was mentioned to have died. Open calendars have been closed. Paperwork have been locked. Permissions have been revoked. When individuals have been laid off, they have been left questioning for days whether or not they nonetheless had a job, unable to achieve HR.
One member of employees mentioned in March: ‘It is a stress cooker. There aren’t any pointers. There is no respect. There’s completely zero transparency. It is terrible.’
Writing in The Atlantic, former Machine Studying, Ethics Transparency and Accountability (META) engineering director Rumman Chowdhury mentioned: ‘From the announcement of Musk’s bid to the day he walked into the workplace holding a sink, I watched, horrified, as he slowly killed Twitter’s tradition.
‘Debate and constructive dissent was stifled on Slack, leaders accepted their destiny or quietly resigned, and Twitter slowly shifted from being an organization that cared in regards to the individuals on the platform to an organization that solely cares about.’
Chowdhury mentioned Twitter 2.0 was outlined by ‘feverish cost-cutting, lax content material moderation’ and ‘the abandonment of vital options similar to blocklists’. He mentioned he anxious that ignoring the ‘nuanced concern of algorithmic oversight’ – with Musk reportedly pushing his tweets above all others – Twitter would find yourself including to problems with bias, misinformation and contributing to ‘a risky international political and social local weather’.
Twitter 2.0 prompted extra to depart. An additional 1,200 voluntarily resigned in November, main the non permanent closure of places of work.
#RIPTwitter began trending on the location.
Musk in January after testifying concerning a lawsuit that noticed buyers sue Tesla and Musk over 2018 tweets saying he would take Tesla personal with funding he was discovered to not have secured
Workers cuts have been meant to rein in bills. Those that stayed seemed to create new worthwhile options, similar to Twitter Blue, which promised to maneuver the location nearer to Musk’s city sq. imaginative and prescient.
However from the skin, the revolution was getting out of hand. Inner conflicts have been aired in public. The brand new path noticed unfinished options examined on the primary web site and recalled inside hours once they wanted tinkering with.
As the primary employees have been reduce, so the primary customers began to depart. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Gray’s Anatomy, wrote on 29 October: ‘Not hanging round for no matter Elon has deliberate. Bye.’ – and hasn’t posted since.
Grammy winner Toni Braxton wrote the identical day: ‘I am shocked and appalled at among the “free speech” I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition.
‘Hate speech beneath the veil of “free speech” is unacceptable; due to this fact I’m selecting to remain off Twitter as it’s now not a secure house for myself, my sons and different POC.’
If customers have been leaving, advertisers had much less motive to remain – additional hurting money movement.
Apparently involved that the adjustments have been enabling an increase in hate speech on the platform, manufacturers together with Normal Motors, United Airways and Normal Mills paused shopping for advertisements on Twitter.
Then, Chevrolet, Chipotle, Ford and Jeep paused advertisements or deserted the platform solely. Apple pulled its Twitter advertisements. By the tip of November, the losses in promoting have been estimated to have value the location about $2bn in income. The corporate has a income of simply over $5bn.
In January, Musk reportedly tried to lift $3bn by promoting off shares. The Journal reported potential buyers have been postpone by Twitter’s monetary efficiency. Across the similar time, the corporate began to public sale off espresso makers and statues, The Verge claimed, after falling behind on workplace lease funds.
Twitter Blue must work.
Louise Learn, founding father of SaaS MRKTING, defined to MailOnline: ‘Given the discount within the gross sales pressure that might have been answerable for promoting, it is seemingly [Musk] can be trying to increase subscription-based choices.
‘Twitter already has Twitter Blue which permits customers to pay for a blue tick related to their account, however I might anticipate to additionally see the introduction of a premium subscription with out advertisements.’
Efforts have been made to maintain advertisers enticed. A brand new function listed what number of occasions a tweet had been seen, complementing engagement. In February, Twitter ran a hearth sale for Tremendous Bowl advertisements to win again advertisers.
Louise Learn added: ‘This short-sighted strategy goes to lose the few firms who’re really utilizing Twitter for promoting, and postpone the remainder. It screams desperation in what’s already clearly a declining firm.
‘As a marketer, defending your model is paramount… Companies with that kind of promoting spend can be questioning whether or not they even wish to be seen on promoting platforms like Twitter.
‘I am shocked anybody is even promoting on Twitter given the speedy rise in discriminative tweets, hate teams and terrorist teams becoming a member of the platform since Musk took over.
‘Provided that Twitter’s enterprise mannequin solely depends on promoting decreasing their income producing groups, that over years have constructed actual relationships with key advert spenders, it’s telling that this firm is haemorrhaging funds and unsurprising that they reportedly have $13bn of debt.’
Learn was the previous advertising and marketing lead for Klaviyo, rising the advertising and marketing operate from scratch to a $10.1bn valuation.
Chief buyer officer Sarah Personette, who was accountable for Twitter’s promoting gross sales, mentioned she had resigned from the highest function the day after Musk took cost. She didn’t say why
‘Citizen journalism’ advocate Musk pictured on the Tremendous Bowl this yr with Rupert Murdoch
The Blue Tick
Twitter verification as soon as meant authenticity. Slightly blue tick icon was hooked up to the accounts of public figures or firms to discourage impersonators.
This didn’t match Musk’s imaginative and prescient. He heralded the advantages of “citizen journalism” and would supply the coveted label to all for simply $8 monthly.
Altering verification noticed an obvious rise in impersonations on the location. Some have been clearly absurd or satirical. A Coca Cola impersonator wrote: ‘If this will get 1000 retweets we are going to put the cocaine again in Coca Cola.’
Others, extra ambiguous, had actual penalties. An account pretending to be pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Firm wrote: ‘We’re excited to announce insulin is free now’, inflicting LLY inventory to fall 4.5% in a matter of hours.
Lockheed Martin misplaced greater than $7bn and confronted some awkward questions after a faux account introduced the corporate would cease sending arms shipments to Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel.
Scores of notable individuals left Twitter within the run as much as Christmas. Rolling Stone compiled a checklist of those that had left earlier than the yr was up, together with actor Stephen Fry (who mentioned on his web site Twitter was like a ‘room [that] had began to odor. Actually fairly dangerous), Whoopi Goldberg, Gigi Hadid (branding it a ‘cesspool of hate’), Jack White and Alex Winter.
Moby mentioned the location had ‘grow to be a cesspool of racism, anti-Semitism, disinformation, and dimwitted alt-right hate’ earlier than leaving in November.
Elton John mentioned in December he had determined to ‘now not use Twitter, given their current change in coverage which can permit misinformation to go unchecked.’
Twitter ultimately pulled the paid Twitter Blue service, after which put it again. An ‘Official’ label was added, and then pulled hours later. There have been threats to take away ‘legacy’ verification afforded to public figures, and when customers began linking to their different social media accounts Musk mentioned he would ban accounts that promoted different platforms. This, too, was modified when the general public protested.
Twitter discovered a partial answer, giving badges of various colours to companies and authorities entities. However the flagship coverage of Twitter 2.0 that had promised to recoup misplaced promoting revenues as an alternative alienated extra customers and organizations.
On 20 April – a date reportedly chosen for its ties to marijuana tradition – Musk lit the bonfire of Blue ticks – after which gave some again for customers with greater than 1mn followers. This included mistakenly giving ticks to celebrities who had died, falsely claiming that they had paid for Twitter Blue.
Twitter say they’re engaged on an up to date course of for brand new accounts to reduce impersonation.
Actor Whoopi Goldberg was among the many celebrities who left Twitter, saying on The View in November ‘I simply really feel prefer it’s so messy, and I am uninterested in now having had sure sorts of attitudes blocked, and now they’re again on.’
Actor Stephen Fry was a well-liked determine with 12.3mn followers earlier than leaving after the takeover
From the beginning, Musk challenged Twitter to be extra free and open. Within the first place, the choice to purchase up shares within the web site adopted his March 2022 ballot, asking customers whether or not they believed the location ‘rigorously adhered’ to free speech. 70% mentioned no.
A month later, after turning into the biggest shareholder, he wrote: ‘I hope that even my worst critics stay on Twitter, as a result of that’s what free speech means‘.
After which once more in November, after shopping for the location, he added: ‘My dedication to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my aircraft, though that may be a direct private security danger.’
However then, consumer Jack Sweeney, 20, was banned for his account monitoring Musk’s jet after the CEO mentioned a ‘stalker’ bothered his son. Different accounts reporting real-time places have been shut down, which journalists pushed again on noting the significance of publicly obtainable flight knowledge in reporting on Flight MH370, Pelosi’s go to to Taiwan, and US help to Ukraine.
The choice in December to ban tech journalists who had shared Musk’s location was met with the specter of sanctions from the EU, judging it a breach of the Media Freedom Act. On the similar time, Musk was seen to threaten to take away accounts that promoted different social media platforms as customers began to maneuver to websites like Mastodon. This, too, was extensively criticized by content material creators reliant on Twitter to advertise their channels. Twitter confronted dropping one other important demographic.
Others customers have been introduced again. Andrew Tate lasted a bit of over a month. The previous kickboxer was quickly ridiculed for taking intention at Greta Thunberg on Twitter, and was totally within the public highlight consequently when Romanian authorities detained him on suspicion of human trafficking, rape and forming an organized crime group.
The entire affair examined Twitter’s dedication to free speech. The introduction of a brand new ‘reader context‘ function did – notably – permit customers to choose up on misinformation across the Tate saga and flag it for different customers.
Ye West was additionally added again to Twitter after having his account restricted for an anti-semitic tweet. Inside days, Musk banned him once more for incitement to violence after he shared a picture of a swastika over the Star of David.
Donald Trump was additionally given his account again after a polling of customers. ‘Vox Populi, Vox Dei,’ Musk tweeted when 51.8% of customers voted to reinstate the previous President – ‘the voice of the individuals is the voice of God’.
A month later he polled customers once more, asking whether or not he ought to step down. 57.5% of 17 million customers mentioned sure. Musk mentioned he would resign as CEO when he discovered somebody to take over. In April, he claimed he had already stepped down, and that his canine was now in cost – drawing comparisons on Twitter to the ‘mad’ Emperor Caligula who promised to nominate his horse as consul.
Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump after polling 15 million customers on the social community
Caligula would have blushed: Musk claimed in April he had made his canine the brand new Twitter CEO
The Twitter Information
Twitter 2.0 had taken the location in a radically new path – however away from what? In December, as a part of the brand new system of openness, Musk shared with freelance journalists a variety of inner Twitter recordsdata – the so-called Twitter Information – revealing controversial choices made earlier than October.
Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger have been amongst those that reported the state of Twitter earlier than the takeover. It was revealed that Twitter had sought to reasonable some conservative views, tales and folks on the location. A ‘Developments Blacklist’ additionally appeared to censor well being coverage specialists who had opposed the lockdowns.
Since then, Rep Nancy Mace quizzed Vijaya Gadde on the Oversight Listening to on defending speech from authorities interference and social media bias on 8 February. She mentioned: ‘Why do you assume that you just or anybody else at Twitter had the medical experience to censor a health care provider’s knowledgeable opinion?’
Gadde mentioned the insurance policies concerning Covid have been designed to ‘shield people’.
She later admitted, ‘we obtained authorized calls for to take away content material from the platform from the US authorities and governments all over the world.’
Mace replied: ‘Thank God for Matt Taibbi. Thank God for Elon Musk for permitting to point out us… that Twitter was principally a subsidiary of the FBI, censoring actual medical voices with actual medical experience that put actual Individuals lives at risk as a result of they did not have that data.’
Shellenberger additionally reported that the story of a laptop computer belonging to Hunter Biden, apparently containing a corruption scandal, had been suppressed by the FBI, exerting affect over Twitter.
Leaks confirmed $3.5mn of taxpayers’ cash had been used for ‘processing requests’ to Twitter employees because the FBI sought to ban sure accounts.
It was a damning blow to the Twitter of outdated – from its new proprietor, no much less.
The Twitter Information noticed journalists share insider data from pre-Musk Twitter. Shellenberger reported the FBI had influenced Twitter to censor the Hunter Biden laptop computer story
Elon Musk tweets on 28 October 2022, the day after saying he had purchased the corporate
Elon Musk’s formidable bid to create a free and open market of concepts on-line has been wrought with difficulties from the beginning.
The visionary new CEO has opened up the platform to suggestions and made troublesome choices to take the platform within the new path.
The Twitter Information have uncovered harmful developments and began conversations on the function of scope of social media giants.
However employees warn the location is now unable to uphold the rules Musk has celebrated from the start.
Since October, Twitter has struggled to maintain customers who don’t really feel secure. Appeals to ‘freedom of speech’ have generally had harmful outcomes and different occasions been dismissed.
The result’s that advertisers have additionally left, additional thinning the assets there to help the crew that retains the location in examine.
Six months on, Twitter’s revolution has seen the corporate solely remodel its enterprise mannequin, consumer base and employees. What this implies for the location – and for its rivals – is to be seen.
MailOnline approached Twitter for remark and obtained an automatic reply.