Twitter, Musk and a week of bad decisions it seems

Twitter, Musk and a week of bad decisions it seems

You could say that Twitter, now in its second week of Elon Musk’s reign, had an interesting week. That would be an understatement.

Trying to keep up with the unfolding saga that is Musk’s property of the microblogging platform isn’t easy. Since Monday, several high-level executives have left the company, product changes have been made and rolled back with little apparent internal communication, and now the FTC fears Musk’s Twitter is ignoring its obligations under a previous settlement.

In this context, Musk keep tweeting as if his $44 billion investment wasn’t about to explode in his face. So what the hell is going on there?

It was the weekend that was

Elon may have acquired Twitter on October 27, but it wasn’t until the last week that things started to get interesting.

Musk initiated a mass layoff on Twitter on Friday, November 4, an event described by many employees as chaotic. Reports said people were kicked out of their work accounts and Twitter systems as early as Thursday night – some in the middle of meetings – and on Friday half the 7,500-person company was absent.

A group of five former Twitter employees has filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter, claiming the layoffs violate federal and California WARN laws that mandate a 60-day notice period for qualifying group terminations, in which Twitter is included.

Musk previously fired Twitter’s management, including CEO Parag Agrawal, days after taking ownership of the company, and advertisers quickly began freezing ad spend on Twitter until things calmed down. which they certainly did not.

Over the weekend, it became clear to some on Twitter that laying off half the company was not a good idea, leading to several dozen people being asked to return to the company to two reasons: some were fired by accident, while others were fired. before management had a chance to realize they were key to building the features Musk wanted for the platform.

Reports soon emerged that the Twitter engineers who had been asked to return were say no most of the time. Those who agreed to return would mostly be working foreigners on visas who would be forced to leave the United States without a job.

Let the musk sink

It was a relatively quiet start to the week on Twitter, aside from Elon being bad sport for people impersonating him, announcing that accounts engaging in parodies without explicitly stating so would be banned without warning.

On Monday, Musk also claimed that Twitter users were at an all-time high, possibly in response to publication research by MIT Technology Review in which he found nearly a million Twitter users had disabled their accounts since Musk purchased the platform in late October. Twitter says it has around 237 million monetizable daily users.

Misinformation on Twitter also spiked earlier this week in the run-up to the US midterm elections, which might not have happened if Musk hadn’t been in charge of the platform.

On Tuesday, news emerged that Musk had sold 19.5 million Tesla shares worth $3.95 billion, which the world’s richest man has since told Twitter workers was needed to save the business.

Midweek madness

One of Musks’ big plans to make more money on Twitter, something he definitely needs to do, emerged as plans to turn Twitter Blue into an $8-a-month service that would earn paid accounts a check mark. Tweets from blue followers also appear higher than those from non-followers in searches and replies, turning Twitter into a paid speaking platform.

This paid blue tick would not come with any real verification process, and news of the plan caused backlash as people worried about the potential for identity theft, like what happened on weekend that prompted Musk to ban “imitators”.

On Wednesday, Twitter began using the “Official” account label to differentiate paid verification checkmarks from those that earned it, but only in certain cases, such as premium brands.

As this news settled on the Twitterverse, Robin Wheeler, Musk and Twitter customer solutions leader taken to Twitter spaces to discuss changes to Twitter and the company’s plans to gain advertisers’ trust. During the call, Musk revealed that he was also considering turning Twitter into a payments platform, bringing it back to its PayPal roots. Overall, the call didn’t go very well based on what happened next.

Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, Marianne Fogarty, Chief Compliance Officer of Twitter, Lea KissnerTwitter’s Chief Information Security Officer Damien Kieran, Chief Privacy Officer, and Yoel Rothhead of trust and safety, all left Twitter, leaving Twitter with little leadership in security or compliance.

Rumors briefly swirled that Wheeler had also left, but she has since said she is still in the business.

The reason for the team’s departure may have to do with the FTC’s eyes turning to Twitter, with which it has had an agreement since 2010, when it was found to have privacy and security practices. poor security. The FTC also fined Twitter $150 million earlier this year for using account security data to sell targeted ads.

TechDirt’s Mike Masnick posted a section of the FTC’s agreement with Twitter which emphasizes that the social media platform must notify the regulator whenever it makes changes to the product. Something that may not have been done since Musk took over.

Shortly after the departures, an anonymous Twitter attorney posted a letter to the company’s internal Slack saying that Musk’s current chief legal and personal counsel, Alex Spiro, reported compliance concerns that “Elon puts rockets in space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.”

According to the letter, the engineers were required to self-certify the changes they made to comply with the FTC, which the attorney said would expose Twitter to billions of dollars in fines. “Extremely detrimental to Twitter’s longevity,” the attorney said.

Wednesday was also when Musk made his first formal communication with remaining Twitter employees, telling them that not only was Twitter facing bankruptcy, but that he was ending the company’s long-standing remote work policy. and would force everyone to be in the office. “at least” 40 hours per week, starting the next day.

Regarding this threat of bankruptcy, keep in mind that Twitter made a profit of $513 million in the first quarter of 2022, largely thanks to the sale of MoPub, and a loss of $270 million in the second. quarter, ending that period with $2.68 billion in cash equivalents.

President Biden also said the foreign investment that made possible the Tesla mogul’s purchase of Twitter was worth considering. Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud and Qatar Holding, along with Oracle’s Larry Ellison and others, contributed funds to support the takeover.

Blue Thursday

Thursday saw the demise of the official label and the rollout of the new Twitter Blue program which allowed people to buy a verified checkmark for $8 a month. Twitter also said blue verification would remain for users who were verified under the “legacy” verification system.

Chaos ensued, with brands impersonated, politicians parodied as cannibals and fraud rampaging, as expected. Someone with a paid blue tick impersonated insulin maker Eli Lilly on Twitter to say the drug was now free, sending the pharma giant’s share price down 6% after that the false claim went viral.

Musk also met with Twitter staff for the first time yesterday, telling them much the same thing he had said in email communications with staff the day before: Twitter’s finances are in bad shape, the business could collapse and everyone has to work harder.

The letter also attempted to answer questions about the status of Twitter’s compliance with FTC warrants. According to Musk, “Twitter will do whatever it takes to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the FTC’s consent decree. Anything you read to the contrary is absolutely false.”

Musk’s own attorney also reportedly tried to reassure the staff, saying none of them would go to jail, regarding the situation with the FTC.

Friday “Corrections” and Beyond

Twitter woke up today to find that not only were users unable to sign up for Twitter Blue, but “Original” tags we are back on some accounts.

Users who earned Blue Checks by subscribing to Twitter Blue have been reported missing, and app watcher Jane Manchun Wong said she no longer saw the ability to buy verified by Twitter Blue in the Twitter API.

At the time of writing, the option to subscribe to Twitter Blue also appears to have been removed from the app, having been present earlier today but showing an availability error. Musk also threatened to remove verified checkmarks from non-subscribers over the next few months.

It is reported that more than 140,000 accounts have signed up for the latest suite of Twitter Blue features, which brings in $13.4 million a year. About 420,000 accounts had verified blue ticks before Musk’s takeover. Twitter’s annual revenue was $5 billion in 2021. Let that sink in.

What’s next for Twitter is anyone’s guess. In another flippant tweet from Musk earlier today, the Twitter CEO shared a image of a #GameOver neon sign, saying “Twitter HQ is awesome.”

The photo, which Musk said was taken in Twitter’s arcade and bar, was tweeted without context before he clarified the location. “Humour” aside, these kinds of jokes are not likely to inspire confidence in wary advertisers or eagle-eyed government officials.

One thing is certain: Musk’s purchase of the company has burdened it with $13 billion in debt, making Twitter liable for $1 billion in interest payments per year. If it looks like Musk is collapsing, those financial bonds and the disgruntled banks attached to them could be to blame. That said, a growing risk of insolvency probably won’t make the richest man in the world (yet) act calm and serene – expect more commotion.

Now, who’s ready for a nice and quiet weekend? ®

#Twitter #Musk #week #bad #decisions

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