Six Months of Twitter Under the Rule of Elon Musk

Six Months of Twitter Under the Rule of Elon Musk

Twitter has barely been out of the headlines since its takeover by Elon Musk last October in a deal worth $44 billion. Partly these have stemmed from the raft of significant changes made to its policies. Though company-wide layoffs and Musk’s brain-fart tweets have also got tongues wagging.

Musk’s Twitter buy was the social media takeover story to end them all, and the first six months with the mogul at the wheel have been eventful to say the least. In this article, we’ve summarized some of the most notable stories of his reign so far.

Liftoff, layoffs

Musk made a memorable entrance to Twitter HQ, holding a sink in his hand to indicate “Let that sink in.” Things appeared to start on a positive note when he added, “Meeting a lot of cool people at Twitter today.”

However, he did not waste any time in laying off employees in huge numbers, starting with then-CEO Parag Agrawal, the CFO, and the head of legal, policy, and trust.

The exact number of employees dismissed under Musk’s leadership is unclear. However, within the first three weeks of his tenure, nearly two-thirds of the company’s 7,500-person workforce were purged.

Furthermore, the company had lost almost all of its senior leadership. And the number of people with access to Twitter’s internal systems fell to just over 2,700, according to two sources who saw the numbers in the last week of November.

The layoffs have included long-tenured engineers, some with more than a decade of experience at the company, as well as a growing list of corporate leaders.

Advertisers sever ties

Since October, many corporations and companies have cut ties with the platform for advertising.

Major corporations such as Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, General Mills, Mondelez, Pfizer, and United Airlines have paused or pulled their advertisements from Twitter due to concerns over hate speech and conspiracy theories.

International ad and consulting firm Interpublic, which represents American Express, Coca-Cola, Fitbit, Spotify, and dozens of other major corporations, has also stopped advertising on the platform. That cut caused Twitter to lose $24 billion in value since Musk took over.

Introduction of paid verification subscription

Without a doubt, one of the most popular changes on Twitter since Musk’s takeover is its Bluetick subscription feature.

In November, the Tesla chief introduced a feature called “Blue for $8/month,” which brought a drastic change to Twitter’s policy by providing a verification checkmark known as a Bluetick. This feature also offers additional benefits such as the ability to edit tweets, half-ads, longer tweets, text formatting, bookmark folders, NFT profile pictures, etc.

However, it has also raised concerns that Twitter Blue’s additional features make the platform more elitist. Interestingly, though, the change has been copied by Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, whose subscription service Meta Verified lets users add a blue checkmark to their accounts.

Twitter for everything app

Reportedly, Musk has long wanted to turn Twitter into an “everything app.” The maverick social media typhoon envisions a future where Twitter becomes like China’s WeChat, offering a wide range of services beyond social media.

This would involve integrating features such as e-commerce, messaging, and even transportation services, all within the Twitter platform.

Musk’s ambition is apparently to turn Twitter into a comprehensive digital ecosystem that people can rely on for all their needs. Watch this space.

Q4 revenue tumbled by 35%

Twitter’s fourth-quarter revenue plummeted by 35% year-on-year to $1.03 billion, as advertisers held back spending after Musk’s takeover.

More than 500 advertisers pulled the plug on ad spending after the takeover, with revenue representing 72% of the company’s own targets for the quarter under review.

Twitter faces an imminent finance charge of $13 billion and has projected first-quarter revenue to come in at $732 million, down 39% from a year ago.

Controversial 2FA policy change

Back in February, Twitter faced criticism from experts when it announced that SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) would only be available to Bluetick subscribers.

The move was seen as contradictory to Twitter’s goal of improving security and sparked concerns that users would be confused by the sudden change. Despite SMS-based 2FA being considered less secure than other methods, some questioned why verified users were being given unfavourable treatment.

Twitter leverages AI to detect manipulation

The Twitter boss is also working on AI despite his agreement to pause developing the technology.

As MetaNews previously reported, Musk’s announcement comes after Twitter has faced criticism for its handling of disinformation and propaganda on its platform.

Musk, who often uses Twitter to voice his opinions and ideas, believes that his AI platform can identify misinformation campaigns and protect users from having their opinions manipulated.

His initiative is part of a broader trend toward the use of AI to monitor and regulate social media platforms.

Algorithms go public

Twitter made its timeline algorithm code public on GitHub, allowing developers to access and use it.

The move came with the expectation that developers would have more freedom to create new features and enhance the platform’s functionality.

The announcement generated a buzz among social media users, with some hoping to find out why certain posts were prioritized.

According to a Twitter blog post, the algorithm prioritizes likes and retweets over replies when selecting tweets to feature on the For You timeline, with each like given a 30x boost and each retweet a 20x boost.

Monetization avenues for content creators

Musk has announced that the social media platform will now allow creators to monetize their content through a new feature called “Subscriptions.”

This move is part of Twitter’s efforts to generate more revenue and compete with other social media sites.

Creators can charge subscribers $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 per month and will receive 97% of revenue up to $50,000 in lifetime earnings.

Additionally, Twitter plans to promote creators’ work and give them full ownership of their content.

Aside from the controversies and policy changes, Musk has reached some personal milestones since taking over. Indeed, he has become the most followed individual on the entire platform, surpassing former President Barack Obama.

Musk also paid for the blue tick verification of three celebrities, after they declined to sign up themselves.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.