It took a lawsuit from Twitter to get Elon Musk to follow through on his promise to buy the platform, which he did this October, and now that he’s boss, it may be the end of an era.
In the few weeks since the Tesla cofounder has been in charge, he’s managed to get rid of nearly half of the company’s longtime staff, alienate swarms of users, and, some argue, worsen the disinformation crisis across the globe while preaching about free speech.
Here’s a breakdown of everything he has done to the platform.
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One of the first things Musk did as he took up the role of Twitter boss was fire a lot of people. After purchasing his title for $44 billion, the new social media platform owner terminated nearly half of its workforce—about 3,700 jobs, per The New York Times—including the engineering and machine learning, content moderation, sales, and advertising departments.
He also fired several employees who criticized him in private Slack chats, and others who publicly argued with him on Twitter about how he is running the company. One employee said he never got a formal termination notice, and instead learned he was being fired when Musk tweeted “he’s fired” in their heated Twitter chain (Musk has since deleted that tweet).
Earlier this week, amid ongoing backlash for his decisions, Musk staged a fake re-hire, sharing a photo on Twitter of himself allegedly welcoming back two employees whom he fired. As it turns out, however, it was all satire, and the people in the photo never worked for Twitter.
Even those employees who Musk did not fire are now at risk of losing their jobs, as the entrepreneur reportedly gave the remaining employees a deadline to decide whether or not they wanted to continue working under his “hard core” conditions and follow his mission “to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0.”
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THE BLUE CHECK
In an attempt to make money, dismantle the hierarchy that verified users’ blue checks created on the platform, and decrease the number of ads each user sees on their feed, Musk began (and then abruptly stopped) charging customers $8 a month for the mark. But, some argue, that only created chaos, as it is now more difficult to tell established brands, organizations, and figures from imposters who can just as easily buy the verification.
“You created a Fake News crisis in Africa with your verification system. State propaganda trolls now have verification checks and citizens are now confused,” one user tweeted at Musk.
The move also angered advertisers, many of whom have since paused their ad spend on the platform. This includes General Motors, United Airlines, and Pfizer.
Musk is reportedly preparing to roll out another plan to make his “Twitter Blue” verification system work, but for now, there seem to be two forms of verification for established companies and users, with a light gray “official” check mark appearing under these users’ names, regardless of their blue-check status.
Trevor Noah said it best here.
LACK OF CONTENT MODERATION
Though Musk initially posed himself as a champion of free speech and claimed he wanted to head Twitter to “help humanity,” his platform has become home to more and more hateful content.
The use of racial slurs on Twitter has skyrocketed since his takeover, per a new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate—all this despite the fact that Musk insisted upon his buyout that he would form a content moderation council to decide what kinds of posts to allow on the platform.
THE RACE FOR CASH
Musk has said he didn’t buy Twitter for the money, and now, the company may actually go bankrupt.
Musk’s ideas about how to increase revenue now that brands are pulling their ad money include making Twitter a private company, and potentially charging users for direct messages and paywalled videos, per The New York Times.
Musk’s seemingly random—or at the very least, unhinged—changes to Twitter, as well as his problematic comments on the platform, have turned off several high-profile users. The house of Balenciaga, for example, deleted its entire profile, as did model Gigi Hadid, who said in a statement that she is not interested in being part of Musk’s Twitter.
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This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.