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Twitter - X

Twitter was never the largest social network, but it remained one of the most influential as a home to celebrities, journalists, and influencers of all sorts and the go-to network for breaking news. Since Elon Musk purchased it, Twitter’s employee count has dropped by more than half, advertisers have tightened budgets, and it’s charging money for access to verified checkmarks and Tweetdeck. Oh, and now it’s called X instead of Twitter.

Linda Yaccarino said that she’s somebody that’s “completely transparent,” but she didn’t take audience questions.

The mics were removed just before the interview started, and they never came back. Some transparency!

Linda Yaccarino says she hasn’t seen Elon Musk’s “demon mode” described in Walter Isaacson’s book.

She mostly talked about the value of spirited debate, but did say this: “All I’m saying is that the the idea of the inability to have a debate or feedback, I haven’t experienced or I’ll say I haven’t experienced it yet.”

“Who wouldn’t want Elon Musk sitting by their side running product?”

An actual question Linda Yaccarino has posed to the audience. Not me!

Linda Yaccarino is not confirming if the company plans to go to an all-subscription model.

She’s completely dodged Julia Boorstin’s question about if everyone will be charged to use X.

Some metrics about X, according to Linda Yaccarino.

From an “operating cash flow perspective,” the company is “just about break even.” In early 2024, “we’ll be turning a profit.”

90 percent of the top 100 advertisers have returned to the platform. In the last 12 weeks, about 1,500 have returned.

Linda Yaccarino, unsurprisingly, thinks things are going great at X.

“There is no analog for the book that is being written right now,” she said onstage at Code. That sounds like a ridiculously lofty claim to me! She says that there have been over 100 products shipped since the acquisition.

“I’m rooting for you and I’m rooting for Twitter.”

Yoel Roth said he said that to Elon Musk when he left the company. He’s rooting for CEO Linda Yaccarino, the current CEO of X — who will be speaking at Code in just a bit.

Yoel Roth thinks that something like Twitter needs to exist in the world.

I asked him if there would ever be a platform that’s as culturally relevant as Twitter, now X. “I do hope somebody can capture that,” he said. “I hope they can do it better than Twitter.”

Yoel Roth thinks that TikTok is doing the best at trust and safety right now.

At Code 2023, he noted that of all the VLOPs, TikTok hasn’t laid off members of its trust and safety team and that it continues to invest heavily in identifying inauthentic behavior. Not the answer I was expecting!

“That was a warning sign.”

That’s how Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, characterized the decision immediately after Elon Musk took over the company to change the logged out experience to the explore page.

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“We are eating your market share like a birthday cake and you can do nothing.”

There’s another Twitter spat going on, this time between market-makers DWF Labs, GSR and Wintermute. Worth keeping an eye on, because at least once when there was this kind of Twitter trash-talking — between FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried and Binance’s Changpeng “CZ” ZhaoFTX melted down.

And they call themselves... the future of finance!

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Elon Musk weighs charging everyone to use X... again.

During a livestreamed meeting between Musk and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk hinted at requiring users to pay a “small monthly payment” to use X to combat “vast armies of bots.”

This isn’t the first time Musk has mentioned this — Platformer reported last November that Musk had begun discussing the idea of charging people to use X.

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Twitter turned over 32 Trump DMs to election tampering prosecutors.

We’d already learned the company now known as X handed over some Trump information as part of a probe into his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, but newly unsealed documents provide a little more detail about what that included:

The company resisted producing the records because a court-approved order directed it not disclose to Trump details about the warrant. [...] “Indeed, the materials Twitter produced to the Government included only 32 direct-message items, constituting a minuscule proportion of the total production,” the prosecutors wrote in the newly unsealed brief.

Biden admin gets Supreme Court involved in its First Amendment fight with Missouri’s AG.

In July, a federal judge decided Biden administration officials violated the First Amendment while contacting social media companies about removing posts with covid misinformation.

His injunction barring them from making contact in many cases was narrowed by appeals court judges but now the Biden Administration has asked the Supreme Court (PDF) to put a hold on it (Washington Post, New York Times). Now there is a temporary hold until September 22nd (PDF).

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Not a great look for Musk.

A new Justice Department filing says that Elon Musk’s actions at X (formerly Twitter) might have violated a privacy order from the FTC, according to The Washington Post.

Seems like Musk may have made some bad decisions:

Multiple employees testified that Musk gave directives that were at odds with the company’s normal processes and policies, according to the filing.

Is X suppressing New York Times links?

Semafor has a story saying that could be the case.

Shares of New York Times stories on X have plummeted since mid-July, while competing outlets haven’t seen the same trajectory.

It’s not confirmed that the dip is X’s doing, but it wouldn’t be out of line: the company throttled links to the Times and a few other websites in August.

A chart from Semafor showing how shares to Times stories fell while competitors were mostly flat.
A chart from Semafor showing how shares to Times stories fell while competitors were mostly flat.
Image: Semafor
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The Fifth Circuit Appeals court rules Biden admin “likely” violated the First Amendment.

A panel of judges ruled that government officials crossed a line while pressuring social media companies to curb covid misinformation, writing that they aren’t “permitted to advance these interests to the extent that it engages in viewpoint suppression.”

The court ... vacated much of U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty’s injunction, with the exception of a provision concerning alleged coercion, which it narrowed.

The 5th Circuit said the narrower injunction applied to the White House, the surgeon general, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FBI, but would no longer apply to other federal officials covered by the lower court order.

The judges had previously lifted the injunction, and this narrower one is on hold for ten days as the administration pursues a review by the Supreme Court.

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Walter Isaacson recounts how Elon Musk bought Twitter.

There aren’t a lot of surprises here, but there’s a lot more color on the events we all saw: Musk’s capriciousness about the deal, the attempt to recreate the dot-com boom company X, and Musk’s dialogue with Sam Bankman-Fried.

One new petty detail: Musk was determined to fire then-CEO Parag Agrawal before Agrawal could quit — and so Musk cut Agrawal off from Twitter email, preventing Agrawal from sending his resignation letter.

An NBA ref abruptly retires, and the league’s burner account inquiry ends.

In the middle of the NBA playoffs, Eric Lewis was suspended for allegedly responding to criticism of himself and other refs on a “burner” account, despite a policy barring referees from discussing officiating without approval. The 19-year vet had just refereed game one of the Western Conference finals, and even LeBron James took note.

Now, as The Athletic and report, everything has come to a close with this statement by the league:

NBA referee Eric Lewis has informed the league office that he is retiring, effective immediately. In light of his decision, the NBA’s investigation into social media activity has been closed.

Elon Musk booed again.

First, it was by the cool kids at a Dave Chapelle show, then Captain Hardcore got booed again over the weekend by a bunch of nerds while attending the world championship final of Valorant in Los Angeles with his son. Welcome to hell.

X hopes you’ll find your next job on the platform.

The company announced “early access to the X Hiring Beta” that’s available to Verified Organizations (aka gold checks that pay X / Twitter at least $1,000 per month for the privilege). Organizations that use it can feature job listings on their X profiles — you can see how it works on Vercel’s profile.

It’s not quite a LinkedIn killer, but it’s a step in the direction of Elon Musk’s vision of making X an “everything app.”