Elon Musk owns Twitter. How’d we get here? On April 4th, we learned that Elon Musk had purchased enough shares of Twitter to become its largest individual shareholder. Eventually, he followed up with an unsolicited offer to buy 100 percent of Twitter’s shares for $54.20 each, or about $44 billion. Twitter accepted Elon Musk’s offer, but then things got weird because he tried to cancel the deal.
There was a lot of back and forth about bots and text messages, but in the end, Musk settled on buying the company rather than facing a deposition or Chancery Court trial and eventually strode into Twitter HQ carrying a sink.
Elon Musk began Twitter’s new era of private ownership by firing several executives — including previous CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and policy chief Vijaya Gadde — and, a week later, initiated mass layoffs, drastically cutting its workforce.
The first few weeks of Elon Musk’s Twitter have so far included mass layoffs, the firing of employees who criticized Musk publicly or privately, and hundreds of employees voluntarily accepting Musk’s offer of three months severance instead of the option of joining a new “extremely hardcore” version of Twitter.
Musk has also flip-flopped on paid verification, launching it just over a week after he took over, then putting it on pause after some high-profile impersonations. He then announced it was coming back on November 29th, before telling employees that the company might or might not launch it on that date.
On November 19th, Elon Musk announced that based on the results of a poll posted to his personal account, he’s reinstating the Twitter account of former president Donald Trump. The @realDonaldTrump account was suspended by Twitter on January 8th, 2021, following the January 6th mob attack on the US capitol.
Read on for the latest updates about what’s going on inside Twitter right now.
- TGet ready to grab that idle Twitter handle you’ve been eyeing.
Twitter has about 250 million active users on any given day, but six times as many accounts have no tweets or recent logins. I just hope Musk releases them “soon” as in Christmas, not “soon” as in a fully-autonomous vehicles.
- AThe Twitter checkmarks cometh.
Twitter is gearing up to relaunch its verification program as soon as tomorrow, though the release could be pushed to early next week, I’m told. The plan is for a total of three checkmarks: the paid Twitter Blue subscription for a blue check (existing, non-paid blue checks will lose them 90 days post-launch if they don’t pay), a grey check designated for government accounts and managed by Twitter, and a gold check for advertisers.
Based on what I’m hearing, Twitter is doing its best to avoid the impersonation fiasco that occurred after the brief rollout of paid verification before. This time, the plan is to temporarily remove an account’s blue check for seven days if the display name is changed. You’re welcome, Mario.
- TTake a look inside Elon Musk’s Twitter “hotel.”
Don Draper did it long before Silicon Valley companies like Google turned sleeping at the office into a competition. Some see such dedication as misguided, others a badge of honor.
I’d occasionally sleep in our crummy NYC office when helping to launch The Verge. Twitter 2.0 is a luxury hotel, by comparison, with slippers, alarm clock, a wardrobe, and washing machine, according to the BBC.
- MThe last Moment for Twitter.
Twitter announced it’s getting rid of Moments, the curated collection of tweets that users could create, which originally launched in 2015. Existing Moments will be fine, but we won’t be seeing any new ones.
It seems likely this is another victim of Elon Musk’s desire to simplify the site, similar to how he cut the oft-amusing “tweeted from” labels, which have recently stopped appearing for most users.
2022 has been the worst year yet for ‘climate-sceptic’ content on the social media platform, according to recent analysis.
- ETwitter’s getting two of its biggest advertisers back.
After claiming that Apple “mostly stopped” advertising on the platform last week, Elon Musk said during a Twitter Space on Saturday that the company has “fully resumed” advertising on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer reports that Amazon’s planning to bring ads back to Twitter — to the tune of $100 million per year — “pending some security tweaks to the company’s ad platform.”
- ETwitter’s relying more heavily on automation to keep the platform safe.
Ella Irwin, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, told Reuters that the platform has gotten rid of some manual review processes when it comes to content moderation.
After Elon Musk took over Twitter, he cut half of Twitter’s staff, including 15 percent of its trust and safety team. Irwin said the layoffs have no effect on Twitter’s ability to moderate content, and that the company has already removed 44,000 accounts in violation of Twitter’s child safety policies.
The documents don’t show what Musk thinks they show, and a US Representative is going to have to change his email address.
- MTweets may be getting a view counter.
Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday that Twitter will start showing a view count for tweets like it does for videos.
That data has already been available for the person who wrote the tweet via the analytics button, but it seems like the plan is to make that info publicly available.
It’s unclear when this will actually roll out, but I’ll be sure to delete all my zero-view tweets before then.
On Monday, Musk claimed that Apple had ‘threatened to withhold Twitter’ from the App Store, but after talking with Cook, the two seem to have cleared that up.
And unfortunately for him, that might still not kill the Apple tax.
The Blue subscription package with verification and other perks was supposed to relaunch on Tuesday.
- JIn losing Apple, Elon Musk’s Twitter loses one of the platform’s biggest advertisers.
On Monday, Elon Musk said Apple has “mostly stopped advertising” on Twitter, and that could be a pretty big deal.
Apple had been spending “well above” $100 million per year on Twitter, according to Bloomberg. In the first quarter of this year, Apple spent $48 million in ads on the platform, The Washington Post reports. Apple joins a lot of other advertisers in pulling back.Elon Musk Suggests Apple Stopped Advertising on Twitter
- NElon’s pretend naiveté about Apple and the App Store is very funny.
Twitter is an important company with a wildly important app on Apple’s platform — it is a dead certainty that the two companies had a relationship prior to Elon’s arrival. I know this because I’ve asked Twitter’s former head of product about it on Decoder, and he told me they weren’t in the business of skirting platform rules. Whatever communication Elon is claiming Apple sent about Twitter on the App Store was probably part of the regular flow... but Elon fired everyone who knows that. Whoops.
He also says Apple has ‘mostly’ stopped advertising on the platform.
- EApple and Elon Musk clearly do not see eye-to-eye on moderation.
Apple is famously so prudish that in Epic v Apple, it had a fit in court about a banana. As a result, a judge later ruled that the banana — its name is Peely, and it is from Fortnite — may appear nude in court.
In a later tweet, Musk told my colleague Jake Kastrenakes that Apple was making some kind of moderation demand about Twitter.
- NIn America, no one has to buy what you’re selling.
This Elon tweet feels like the run-up to a bigger App Store fight with Apple, but let’s first marvel at how silly it is.
See, it turns out that the online advertising market is reasonably competitive, unlike the market for “EVs with a good charging network” and “US-based rocket launches.” And when markets are competitive, customers like Apple can easily vote with their dollars to signal that brand safety is important to them.
Welcome to hell, my guy.
- ASaddle up, Twitter engineering managers.
Elon Musk expects you to be writing a lot of code and he wants to see it tonight, according to an internal memo first reported by Platformer’s Zoe Schiffer that I also obtained.
Here is the full email, which was sent just after 3 AM Pacific time on Monday with the subject line “Code Reviews Tonight:”
Please be prepared to show what you’ve accomplished in the past ten days.
As a reminder, all managers are expected to write a meaningful amount of software themselves. Being unable to do so is like a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse.
Searches for major cities in China have become filled with spam from seemingly inauthentic accounts.
- EElon Musk never responded to Senator Ed Markey’s questions on Twitter verification.
Senator Markey gave Musk until November 25th to respond to his concerns about paid verification, but Markey says on Twitter that the billionaire didn’t provide any answers.
Earlier this month, Markey warned Musk to “Fix your companies. Or Congress will,” after the two got into a spat on Twitter about fake verified accounts. In his most recent tweet, Markey calls on Congress to “pass laws that put user safety over the whims of billionaires.”
Twitter’s global vice president of policy didn’t agree to Elon Musk’s ‘hardcore’ work culture and got fired — but says she didn’t intend to resign.
Elon Musk says Twitter will begin manually authenticating Blue, Grey, and Gold accounts as soon as next week
Blue check marks for people, gold for companies, and grey for governments.