How’d we get here?
On April 4th, 2022, we learned that 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 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.
Since then, there have been layoffs, more layoffs, and even more layoffs — plus drama over Substack, unpaid bills, and blue checkmarks. With ad revenue still down from previous years, Elon finally abdicated the role of CEO in May 2023, installing longtime NBCUniversal ad executive Linda Yaccarino.
Read on for the latest updates about what’s going on inside Twitter right now.
Nov 21, 2023
Flipboard is the latest company to end its presence on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. In a Medium post published Tuesday, the company said it would no longer be “actively monitoring or posting updates on X,” save for the occasional retweet. Instead, Flipboard will be refocusing its efforts on Mastodon and other open social platforms.Read Article >
The reasons for Flipboard’s departure from X appear to be two-fold: X’s more lax moderation policies under Elon Musk’s leadership, which has led to a sharp spike in hate speech and misinformation; and Flipboard’s goal of working with federated social media services. Over the past several months, Flipboard has joined a growing list of companies, including Mozilla, Tumblr, and Medium, that are using the ActivityPub protocol to integrate with federated platforms.
Nov 21, 2023
X, formerly Twitter, has followed through with owner Elon Musk’s threat to sue the left-leaning nonprofit Media Matters. Media Matters reported last week that X “has been placing ads for major brands” like Apple and IBM “next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.” Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino have dubbed the report unrepresentative of X’s general user experience. Several companies nonetheless pulled ads after that report and Musk’s direct endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory — and Musk’s lawsuit claims Media Matters is legally liable for X’s loss.Read Article >
Nearly simultaneously, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation into Media Matters for “potential fraudulent activity.” Musk posted the news on his X account, stating that “fraud has both civil and criminal penalties.” Musk had previously responded to a tweet by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller that suggested conservative attorneys general (like Paxton) look into fraud charges.
Nov 20, 2023
Last week, Elon Musk appeared to endorse antisemitic conspiracy theories and posted about supporting white pride on his social platform X, formerly Twitter. Musk’s tweets were then highlighted by a Media Matters article that found advertising from major companies had shown up next to pro-Nazi content. Major advertisers then halted their ad spends on the platform. To address the controversy, CEO Linda Yaccarino sent a memo titled “Our Work Is Meaningful,” reiterating her commitment to X.Read Article >
As pressure mounts for the company to distance itself from supporting antisemitism, Forbes reported that advertisers are urging Yaccarino to resign as well. A former NBCUniversal chairperson with close ties to the ad industry, Yaccarino had been brought into Musk’s company to restore relationships with the companies that make up the majority of X’s revenue. Advertisers were already concerned their paid content would show up next to antisemitic or otherwise bigoted posts, but they’re especially worried now, when the platform’s owner seems to be actively stoking conspiracies about the Jewish community.
Nov 18, 2023
Apple has reportedly followed IBM by pulling advertising from X, formerly Twitter, after the platform’s owner Elon Musk made posts agreeing with antisemitic conspiracy theories and supporting white pride.Read Article >
Citing unnamed sources, Axios reports that Apple is pausing all advertising on X. Later on Friday, the New York Times reported that Disney would pause advertising on X, while CNBC noted the same for Warner Bros. Discovery. Paramount and Comcast / NBCUniversal have paused their ads as well, Axios says in a separate report.
Nov 16, 2023
IBM has pulled its advertising presence from X, formerly Twitter, as Elon Musk continues to endorse far-right talking points — agreeing with posts this week that promoted antisemitism and pushed support for white pride. The nonprofit Media Matters drew attention to those statements and noted that IBM, Apple, Comcast, and other companies all had ads placed next to pro-Nazi and pro-Hitler content (not posted by Musk) on X. IBM told the Financial Times and confirmed to The Verge that “IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.”Read Article >
On the platform today, Musk called it “super messed up” that white people are not, in the words of one far-right poster’s tweet, “allowed to be proud of their race.” The white pride support came a day after Musk agreed with an antisemitic post claiming that Jewish communities have stoked “hatred against whites.” Musk told another user that “You have said the actual truth” after the person wrote that they are “deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations” facing “hordes of minorities that support flooding their country.” The Atlantic wrote that Musk’s tweets echoed the “deadliest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in recent American history” by pushing the idea that there is a “unified Jewish agenda.”
Nov 16, 2023X is backing one of the smallest-stakes legal fights imaginable.
The Financial Times reports that X is representing a university student who got in trouble for claiming on X that an event was open and had free food. The event was actually a closed conference.
X owner Elon Musk claimed in August that the company would “fund your legal bill” for users that feel they “were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform,” so it seems the company is starting to do so in one of the dumbest possible cases.Elon Musk’s X defends US university student in trouble over posts
Nov 9, 2023Stay classy, Elon.
From Kara Swisher’s interview with Ben Mezrich, author of Breaking Twitter:
In the book, there’s a scene when Musk signs the papers to take over Twitter, the first thing he screams out is, “Fuck Zuck! Fuck Zuck!” — which I haven’t seen reported anywhere else.
Not reported, but easily imagined.Ben Mezrich on the Musk and Zuck Messiah Complexes
Nov 6, 2023
Sony is terminating its X (formerly Twitter) integrations for PS5 and PS4, meaning you soon won’t be able to post screenshots and clips to X from those consoles.Read Article >
“As of November 13, 2023, integration with X (formerly known as Twitter) will no longer function on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 consoles,” Sony said in a support message on its website. “This includes the ability to view any content published on X on PS5/PS4, and the ability to post and view content, trophies, and other gameplay-related activities on X directly from PS5/PS4 (or link an X account to do so).” Wario64 posted a screenshot of a similar message on Threads that appears to have popped up on a PS5 console.
Nov 4, 2023X has reportedly started trying to sell user handles.
Forbes obtained emails that indicate that X, formerly Twitter, has started to work on a marketplace to buy handles that are no longer in use. Also, “in at least some cases, X/Twitter has emailed solicitations to potential buyers requesting a flat fee of $50,000 to initiate a purchase,” Forbes reports.
That’s one way to make more money, I guess.
Nov 3, 2023
Yesterday, employees at X received a crash course in private equity from the folks at Morgan Stanley, whose Shareworks platform is being used to manage the restricted stock units that Elon Musk has finally begun doling out.Read Article >
The issuance of new equity, complete with an official stockholder agreement and disclosure statement, marks the beginning of a new chapter in the saga of Twitter’s haywire transformation into X. The old Twitter, a publicly traded company incorporated in Delaware with an independent board of directors, has been dead for a year. In its place now is X Holdings, a private, Nevada-based corporation with one controlling shareholder and a PO box in Austin, Texas.
Oct 31, 2023
Since Elon Musk bought Twitter a year ago, he has blown it up to create something else entirely.Read Article >
What is now called X is in the process of becoming “a single application that encompasses everything,” he recently told employees. Being the “digital town square,” as he has described Twitter in the past, isn’t enough. For X to succeed in Musk’s eyes, the platform needs to compete with YouTube, LinkedIn, FaceTime, dating apps, and the entire banking industry.
Everyone knew that Twitter wasn’t worth $44 billion when Elon Musk bought it a year ago. Now, we know what Musk himself thinks it’s worth today: $19 billion.Read Article >
On Monday, employees at X were awarded equity in the company at a valuation of $19 billion, or $45 per share, according to internal documents seen by The Verge. That price is a 55 percent discount to Musk’s original purchase price, per the documents, which note that “the fair market value per share is determined by the Board of Directors based on a number of factors in a manner that complies with applicable tax rules.” (Musk is X’s chair and has yet to create a formal board.)
- One of Elon Musk’s investors thinks X is worth 65 percent less than when he bought it.
Fidelity, which put $300 million into Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter a year ago, thinks the company is about 65 percent less valuable now, according to Axios. That implies a valuation of between $15 and $16 billion, or the incineration of over $28 billion in enterprise value.
Musk didn’t acknowledge X’s financial state during a rare all-hands meeting with employees last week, though he did brag about some other numbers: he said that X is seeing roughly half a billion posts and over 100 billion impressions per day.
Oct 29, 2023X will demonetize posts corrected by Community Notes.
Elon Musk says the change is meant to “maximize the incentive for accuracy over sensationalism.”
A study earlier this month found X Premium verified users were getting heavy engagement as “superspreaders of misinformation” about the Israel-Hamas war.
Oct 27, 2023
X, the platform previously known as Twitter, has introduced a new $16 per month Premium Plus plan that lets subscribers pay more to get the biggest boost for their replies. Not only does the plan offer the “largest reply boost,” but it also removes ads from your For You and Following feeds, according to a page detailing the features of the subscription.Read Article >
Premium Plus builds on the perks that come with X’s standard Premium plan (formerly Twitter Blue), which includes a blue checkmark, the ability to edit tweets, longer posts, longer video uploads, encrypted direct messages, and more.
- Elon Musk wants more bad news.
This was his advice to employees during his first companywide meeting since renaming Twitter to X: “In any given meeting, make sure there is at least one piece of bad news. You can have more than one piece of bad news. If you’re in a meeting with me, always bring up at least one bit of bad news or more than that.”
I have more from inside X’s first big all hands with Musk and Linda Yaccarino in this week’s Command Line:
Oct 27, 2023
Elon Musk has now owned the company formerly known as Twitter for an entire year. It’s been a disaster.Read Article >
Before Musk, Twitter had its problems. It took forever to launch new features and had to try really hard to stop people from tweeting bad things. But for most of 2022, it was generally functional. Even as the company dealt with the chaos of Musk’s will-he-won’t-he approach to the acquisition, Twitter soldiered on with long-awaited updates like the edit button for Twitter Blue subscribers, new features for its Spaces audio rooms, and smaller improvements like new designs for icons. The company was working, even if it was moving slowly.
Elon Musk wants X to be the center of your financial world, handling anything in your life that deals with money. He expects those features to launch by the end of 2024, he told X employees during an all-hands call on Thursday, saying that people will be surprised with “just how powerful it is.”Read Article >
“When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life,” Musk said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by The Verge. “If it involves money. It’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account.”
Heading into the first joint all-hands meeting with Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino at X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, employees were asked to submit questions ahead of time.Read Article >
Since Musk walked into the building literally carrying a kitchen sink exactly one year ago, companywide communication from him has been nearly nonexistent at X, save for his random, terse emails asking for things to be fixed in the middle of the night. The all-hands Thursday was the first time that both Musk and Yaccarino had addressed employees together. They didn’t answer any of their questions.
Oct 25, 2023
X, the platform previously known as Twitter, is rolling out audio and video calls. Several users on the platform, including some of us here at The Verge, have received a notification when opening the app, stating: “Audio and video calls are here!”Read Article >
There’s also a new “Enable audio and video calling” toggle within the app’s settings, which says you can “turn the feature on and then select who you’re comfortable using it with.” It includes options to allow audio and video calls from only people in your address book, people you follow, verified users, or all three. You can then make a call by opening a DM with another user, selecting the phone icon in the top right corner of the screen, and choosing audio or video call.
Oct 24, 2023
Slack has retired its integration with X (formerly Twitter) because of X’s API changes introduced earlier this year.Read Article >
According to Slack, X’s API changes affected the functionality of the integration, which led to the decision to retire it. “Slack’s integration with X relies on access to its API, and changes to that API this spring impacted the integration’s functionality and the services it supports,” Rod Garcia, Slack’s VP of software engineering, said in a statement to The Verge. “The Twitter app for Slack has not been functional since X implemented these changes, so we have removed the app from the small set of customer workspaces that still have it installed. For more information, please see our update on Slack’s feature retirements page.”
Oct 20, 2023
The vast majority of viral misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war being posted on X (formerly Twitter) is being pushed by verified users, according to a recent study by NewsGuard — a for-profit organization that rates the trustworthiness of news sites. After analyzing the 250 most-engaged X posts between October 7th and October 14th that promoted incorrect or unverified information relating to the war, researchers at NewsGuard found that verified X accounts were behind 74 percent of it.Read Article >
The 250 posts analyzed within the study promoted one of 10 false or unsubstantiated war narratives identified by NewsGuard, including claims that CNN had staged footage of its news crew under attack in Israel, and videos claiming to show Israeli or Palestinian children in cages. In one week, the 250 posts collectively received 1,349,979 engagements (including likes, reposts, replies, and bookmarks) and were viewed over 100 million times globally. 186 of these top 250 posts were posted by verified blue-checked X accounts.
Oct 18, 2023The Twitter Fantasy.
It’s been almost a year since Elon Musk took over Twitter and, well, a lot of things have happened since then. Now, after previously diving into the backstories of dating apps, Meta, and Tesla, the Vox Media podcast Land of the Giants launches a new season about Twitter, its richest user, and “why Twitter’s cultural and political influence far exceeds its size,” hosted by Peter Kafka.