Since buying Twitter, Elon Musk has made radical changes that have sparked fears for the future of the platform, from firing half the staff to restoring ex-president Donald Trump’s account and temporarily suspending those of several journalists.
After Twitter users voted on Monday to oust Musk, the Tesla CEO said that Twitter will only allow users with a blue tick to vote on changes to company policy.
We look back at a rollercoaster two months at the Silicon Valley giant.
A Timeline of Elon Musk’s Twitter drama
the bird is freed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Musk, the world’s second-richest richest man and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, buys Twitter in late October for $44 billion (Rs 364 crores approx) after months of on-off negotiations.
“Let the good times roll,” he tweets after the deal is sealed on October 28. He becomes the sole director of the company after dissolving its corporate board.
Elon Musk’s Twitter: Content Moderation Council, mass layoffs, suspended journalists
‘Content moderation council’
In one of his first moves, the self-declared free speech absolutist announces he will form a “content moderation council”, in a nod to concerns that Twitter could become a free-for-all platform for disinformation and hate speech.
On November 1, Musk announces the site will charge $8 per month to verify the accounts of celebrities and companies — a service that used to be free. But the November 6 launch of the Twitter Blue subscription plan goes awry. Musk is forced to suspend the move after an embarrassing rash of fake accounts alarm advertisers.
Brands step back
Top global companies, including General Mills and Volkswagen, suspend their advertising on Twitter on November 3 as they monitor the new direction the company will take.
On November 4, half of Twitter’s 7,500-strong staff are made redundant, sending shockwaves through Silicon Valley. Musk tweets that “unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day (Rs 33 crores approx)”.
The chaos draws a rare warning on November 10 from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US authority that oversees consumer safety. “We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” says an FTC spokesperson.
Ultimatum to staff
Here’s the text of the email Musk sent to Twitter staff overnight.
Those who don’t commit to being “extremely hardcore” by 5pm ET today must leave the company. ‼️
— Donie O’Sullivan (@donie) November 16, 2022
Musk delivers an ultimatum to Twitter staff on November 16, asking them to choose between being “extremely hardcore” and working long hours, or losing their jobs. He gives them a day to decide. Large numbers of staff quit.
Reinstate former President Trump
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 19, 2022
Musk reinstates the account of banned former president Donald Trump after conducting a poll of users, a narrow majority of whom support the move. A few days later he announces an “amnesty” for all banned Twitter accounts.
In late November, Twitter says it is no longer enforcing a policy of combatting Covid-19 disinformation. Musk had fiercely opposed Covid restrictions.
BREAKING: Twitter has stopped enforcing its COVID-19 Misinformation Policy as of November 23rd.
This policy was used to silence people across the world who questioned the media narrative surrounding the virus and treatment options.
A win for free speech and medical freedom! pic.twitter.com/Mj56R3rSsG
— Dr. Simone Gold (@drsimonegold) November 29, 2022
I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2022
Musk revises his promises of unfettered free speech after rapper Kanye West tweets a picture that appears to show a swastika interlaced with a Star of David. His account is suspended for “incitement to violence”.
Twitter Blue take two
In mid-December Musk relaunches Twitter Blue. This time, Twitter conducts a review of the account before giving it the coveted blue check mark.
Journalists suspended, then reinstated
Rupar tells me he has “no idea” why it happened.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) December 16, 2022
Why have journalists had their Twitter accounts suspended? Please explain. And it had better be a GOOD explanation.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) December 16, 2022
.@Jack never suspended the accounts of journalists who wrote critically of him or of twitter. Guess he believed more in free speech than Chief Twit.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2022
On December 15, Twitter suspends the accounts of more than a half-dozen journalists, including reporters from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Musk accuses them of endangering his family through their reporting on Twitter’s shutdown of an account that tracked flights of his private jet. The EU threatens to sanction the company. On December 17, some of the accounts are reactivated.
Vote to oust Elon Musk as Head of Twitter
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
On December 19, Twitter users vote by 57.5 percent to oust Musk as CEO in a poll he organised and promised to honour.
Musk has not yet responded.
Hero and Featured Images: Courtesy Photography FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP
This story was published via AFP Relaxnews.