- Elon Musk became the owner of Twitter on Oct. 27, paying $44 billion for the social network.
- Many Twitter employees were fired on Friday, part of Musk’s plan to shrink its workforce by at least half.
- While Musk worries about Twitter revenue, many users are concerned about its online culture and consider leaving the platform.
Twitter has just finished its first full week with new owner Elon Musk at the helm. How are things going? Well, the social network is in turmoil.
As Musk laid off an estimated half of Twitter’s staff, he also acknowledged advertisers are fleeing the platform.
And the first signs arrived that the social media site’s iconic verification system is set to turn into a subscription service: an update to Twitter’s iOS app mentions a Twitter Blue $7.99 offering that includes the blue checkmark and will soon have “half the ads & much better ones,” as well as the ability to post longer videos.
Twitter users should expect big changes to the site as Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, attempts to boost revenue.
“Trash me all day, but it’ll cost $8,” Musk tweeted Friday, in reference to his plan to turn verification into a paid service.
Musk’s Twitter bio Saturday read “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator” and his location as “Hell.”
Here’s what to know about Twitter’s chaotic week:
How did Elon Musk wind up buying Twitter?
Back in April, the world’s richest man offered to buy the social media company for $43 billion. Musk said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the time: “Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company. … Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”
He tried to back out of the deal and Twitter sued him in July to force the completion of the acquisition.
Eventually, Musk offered to buy Twitter at the original price of $54.20 a share.
Elon Musk and Twitter:Billionaire’s takeover raises more questions than answers about data privacy
Broadband boost:Comcast is upping upload speeds. But for now, you’ll need a premium bundle.
Mass Twitter layoffs happened fast
Layoffs were expected upon Musk’s takeover at Twitter. On Thursday, employees got an email saying the company planned Friday to start job cuts.
About half the company’s staff was cut, prompting a lawsuit from some employees.
Musk tweeted there was “no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.”
On Saturday, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who stepped down as CEO in November 2021, apologized to employees saying, “I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.”
What’s everyone talking about?:Sign up for our trending newsletter to get the latest news of the day
Hate speech, misinformation concerns persist
Musk has long been critical of Twitter’s content moderation policies and signaled his intent to reduce — but not eliminate — Twitter’s control over what users are allowed on the platform and what they post.
It’s a position cheered by some conservatives. But misinformation watchdogs worry his ideas will lead to an increase in fake content and hate speech. So far their concerns appear to be playing out:
- Research suggests hate speech spiked. Hate-driven tweets quadrupled in the 12 hours after the acquisition, compared to the week leading up to Musk’s takeover, according to researchers at Montclair State University.
- Musk tweets baseless claim. Musk himself tweeted – and since deleted – a link to an article about a baseless claim that the personal life of Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, led to an intruder’s attack on Oct. 28.
- Civil rights groups pressure advertisers to pull Twitter ads. Musk says it’s led to a “massive drop in revenue.”
- Some celebrities flee. Several celebrities including Shonda Rhimes, Sara Bareilles and Toni Braxton have left Twitter since Musk’s takeover. Braxton tweeted that she is “shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition.”
How to delete Twitter account?:Step-by-step guide to permanently remove your account.
‘A massive drop in revenue’:Elon Musk blames activists for Twitter’s woes amid mass layoffs
Will verified users have to pay for blue checkmarks?
Back in April, Musk said he wanted to “authenticate all real humans” on Twitter. Now, Musk wants Twitter users to pay for the blue checkmark verification system. That system, which is currently free, is meant to identify the authenticity of certain accounts including celebrities, brands, government offices and journalists.
An $8 monthly fee could include, fewer ads, the ability to post long videos and audio, priority in replies, mention and search — in addition to the long-coveted blue checkmark, according to Musk.
Charging for Twitter?:Half of users wouldn’t pay to use the site, survey shows
Celebrities, social media and you:Kanye West, Brittany Aldean, Twitter and how to disengage from hate on social media
Will Elon Musk restore President Trump to Twitter?
During a 45-minute Zoom meeting Tuesday with civil rights groups including the Anti-Defamation League, Free Press and the NAACP, Musk said he would not allow banned accounts back on the platform until there’s a vetting process.
He also said that Twitter had not made any changes on how content is moderated. Civil rights groups would be included in the content moderation council Musk plans to set up, he said.
Contributing: Terry Collins, Scott Gleeson, Jessica Guynn, Riley Gutiérrez McDermid, Orlando Mayorquin, Brett Molina, Amanda Pérez Pintado, Marina Pitofsky and Bailey Schulz of USA TODAY; The Associated Press.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.