Twitter in Chaos

Alan Cai

November 4, 2022

The self-proclaimed Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator, Elon Musk, has finally finished a week of drastic changes at the world’s most recognizable social media service. Founded in 2006, Twitter has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, developing into a crucial communications platform for individuals, companies, politicians, celebrities, and other media figures. Twitter’s colorful history has taken a momentous turn since the eccentric Tesla head purchased the company.

Twitter’s recent publicity has also been due, in part, to the massive layoffs occurring in the company. Earnings have been dropping drastically since the acquisition. According to Musk, the company is currently losing $4 million a day following reduced advertisement spending by customers. Major advertisers ranging from automobile giants such as Volkswagen Group and General Motors to pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer have reportedly stopped purchasing advertisements on Twitter citing Elon Musk’s indication of potentially loosening content moderation requirements in an effort to promote free speech. Numerous civil society organizations have been calling for companies to continue the exodus. Musk addressed this concern with an open letter to the companies with little avail.

To reduce dependence on advertisements, Twitter is offering a new subscription offer for its verification tag and blue check package. The verification tag is a feature used by government officials, actors, athletes, and other famous figures in their field in order to authenticate an account and acknowledge its veracity for users(in order to differentiate them from troll/fake accounts). Musk stated that the verification tag will now be purchasable along with the blue check, which offers user benefits such as priority in commenting and the ability to post longer videos for $8 dollars a month, up from the previous $4 blue check price tag. Rumors of paywalled content and tweet-editing have neither been denied nor confirmed. Original plans were floated for nearly $20 a month but were later scrapped for the more affordable option. The new $8 mark is still facing significant backlash across the platform but analysts predict that revenue from subscriptions will rise from this price increase. Twitter has yet to announce whether users who present have verified account status will retain their labels.

Today, Twitter released half of its roughly 7000-employee workforce, with the new chief citing financial difficulties. Layoffs have impacted all company sectors but noticeably cut fewer content moderation staff than other employees. Exact figures are yet to be independently confirmed but it has been clear that the sweeping changes were massive, involving the terminating of some entire teams, significant portions of other teams, and some vice presidents. The company-wide layoffs follow the removals of both the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer, as well as the dissolution of the board, none of which were a tremendous astonishment. A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court following the mass layoffs for a legal technicality and will be reviewed soon. Remaining workers, according to Bloomberg, are being tasked with completing massive overhauls to the site in a short amount of time including redesigning features and refocusing on content moderation, which will include a new content-moderating panel with representatives of “widely diverse viewpoints” according to the interim CEO’s Twitter account.

The new king of Twitter has truly rocked his envisioned “digital town square” to its very core. Elon Musk is now the owner and chief executive officer of Twitter and if the technology mogul entering the San Francisco headquarters carrying a sink did not sink the fact in, the week’s fluctuating vicissitude of events certainly did.