Elon Musk's Wild First Week At Twitter: Everything You Might Have Missed

Last week, the world's richest man got himself a new bird, and he has been playing with it like his new pet. That's right; we are talking about Elon Musk, the new Twitter chief who acquired the platform for a whopping $44 billion. As per the ruling by the Delaware judge, Musk had until October 28, 2022, to close the deal on the initially agreed terms or face a legal trial to be held in November. However, it was on October 26 that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO entered Twitter's San Francisco headquarters with a white bathroom sink in his hands. He also tweeted a short video of his entrance through the glass doors at the headquarters, with the caption, "Let thank sink in!"

While some people, including the company's staff, are not able to digest that the platform is run by Elon Musk himself, Musk is doing everything possible to make his presence felt. Although there haven't been any major changes to how the platform works for users, Twitter is going through a radical change internally. The company has laid off many employees, including the board of directors, filed for delisting from the New York Stock Exchange, and working on the rather controversial verification plan. Since there is a lot to talk about, we'll do it chronologically. So fasten your seat belts because Musk's bird is going through an arduous flight.

Musk fired Twitter's board, announced a new content moderation counsel

Shortly after his entrance into the headquarters, Musk finalized the $44 billion deal and took over the operations on October 27, 2022. His first order of business was firing the company's top executives, including then CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, the legal head Vijaya Gadde, and general counsel heed Sean Edgett. The Washington Post reported that the executives were in the SF headquarters when the deal was finalized and were "hastily" escorted out of the premises. In official documents that emerged later, it was discovered that Musk kicked out the entire board of directors, effective from his takeover. 

The same day, Musk addressed advertisers through a tweet that contained images of a written message, stating that "Twitter aspired to be the most respected advertising platform in the world," which strengthens advertisers' brand and grows their enterprise. But for that to happen, the Twitter head wants to keep advertisements as relevant as possible. 

After this, Twitter's new owner informed that Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints and that no significant content decisions or account reinstatements will occur before the council is in place. The tweet came out amid speculations that the service might restore the accounts of high-profile users who were banned from the platform. As a response to this, Meta's Oversight Board offered Twitter its assistance in setting up the content moderation council. Meta's Oversight Board looks after the social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which have a massive user base.

Musk wants to bring back Vine, the short-video sharing platform

Meanwhile, a report from research firm Memetica stated that thousands of new right-wing accounts surfaced on the platform after the acquisition, but no evidence linked them directly to the deal. A few days into the Twitter headquarters, Musk turned his attention from text-based content to video. On October 31, the new Twitter master conducted a poll, asking his followers about bringing back Vine, a missed opportunity. Like TikTok, Vine was a short video-sharing platform that allowed users to share six-second videos, a format that is quite popular today. To recall, Twitter acquired Vine in 2012, but it had to be shut down in 2017. The poll to bring back Vine currently has about 4.9 million votes, 69.6% of which favor bringing back Vine.

The same day, New York Times reported that Musk fired the top Twitter executives "for cause." Hence, he might not have to honor the "golden parachute" clause, which made the executives eligible for a hefty payout. SlashGear reached out to Ron Zambrano, the employment litigation chair at Los Angeles-based West Coast Trial Lawyers, to understand the fired executives' options. Zambrano told us that the only ground on which the former execs could file a lawsuit could be proving that they were fired because of "protected class" or if they were targeted as whistleblowers. Surprisingly, Twitter did not declare who its CEO was until an SEC filing revealed that it was Musk himself.

Twitter restricted moderation team to access necessary tools

After just five days into his Twitter buy, Musk must have made more headlines than any other CEO in the world. While the self-declared free-speech absolutist claims that his ultimate goal is to transform Twitter into a digital town square where people can communicate and share their thoughts without any restriction, it won't be able to do so without a content moderation counsel that looks out for hate speech, misinformation, and offensive content. 

And guess what? A report published by Bloomberg on November 1, 2022, stated that Twitter reduced the number of people working in the present moderation team to 15 during the takeover. Apparently, the employees who looked after the content on the platform could not access the necessary tools. 

In addition to modifying the present content moderation counsel, the company removed the ad-free article feature from the Twitter Blue subscription perks. Although there were rumors about the chief planning to reform the Twitter Blue subscription, removing the ad-free articles feature that provided access to content from more than 300 United States publications was unexpected.

November 1, 2022, also happens to be the day when Musk announced Blue for $8 per month, something that gathered a lot of negative press. As per the CEO, Twitter Blue for $8 per month is the "only way to defeat the bots & trolls," and those who want to retain the verification badge on their profile should be ready to pay its price. To lower the rising tensions among users, Twitter might provide the Edit feature to all users for free.

Twitter Blue to cost $8 per month, includes verification and other benefits

Although the Blue subscription for $8 a month will provide certain benefits such as priority in replies, the ability to post long video & audio, and a paywall bypass for publishers willing to work with Twitter, it does not respect the notion of trust associated with the verification badge. The microblogging platform's decision to charge a monthly fee for displaying a verification badge on users' profiles might fulfill its monetary requirements. Still, it seems to disregard that many independent journalists and activists might be unable or unwilling to pay the price. In his way, Musk responded by saying, "to all complainers, please continue complaining, but it will cost $8." Twitter may start charging for verified accounts starting Monday, November 7, 2022.

In the coming days, Twitter might also establish some rules related to inactive accounts, as Musk affirmed a tweet from Erich Rusch about deleting inactive and abandoned accounts. Another report said that the new Twitter chief had asked a team to ship a feature that allows creators to post videos behind a paywall. While it could be a legitimate way for creators to earn money, Twitter already has a Super Followers program wherein users pay to view exclusive posts from the creators they prefer. In addition, Twitter's team is also concerned that the paywall feature for videos might be misused, especially to spread child sexual abuse material. 

Elon Musk is the new Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator

On November 2, 2022, Twitter's only director tweeted that Twitter will "not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on the platform until we have a clear process for doing so," clarifying that the suspended accounts are not going to come back anytime soon. The following day, Elon conducted another poll through his Twitter account, which has over 110 million followers, asking users whether advertisers should support freedom of speech or political correctness. Further, Twitter's Chirp Developers conference, which was supposed to take place on November 16, 2022, is now canceled.

As far as employees are concerned, they are being asked to work 12-hour shifts with strict deadlines while their job is at stake at the hands of their managers, who are creating a layoff list. In addition, Musk has canned the rest days system and the option of working from home. On November 4, 2022, many employees took to Twitter to state that they could not access their work accounts amid reports that claim that the company is planning to lay off a significant portion of the Twitter workforce. Going forward, Twitter might implement extensive cost-cutting strategies, which include reducing the IT infrastructure. 

Musk's acquisition of Twitter got mixed reactions from the general public. While some people are looking forward to what Musk has in mind, others threaten to leave the platform entirely. Nevertheless, the billionaire should be given some credit for being active on Twitter, where his current bio reads "Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator."