It’s kind of hard to believe, but Elon Musk has owned Twitter for just one week. He certainly has had an impact, though.
In terms of outward-facing changes, not a lot has happened yet, but Musk has issued a series of orders to employees that could result in a dramatic overhaul of the social media company a lot sooner than many people expected.
Some employees have reportedly been instructed to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to hit the aggressive deadlines, with their jobs at stake if they refuse. Meanwhile, the Sword of Damocles is hanging over everyone’s head at the company as Bloomberg reports Musk will begin swinging the ax on Friday, eliminating roughly 3,700 jobs, about half the workforce.
It’s dizzying to keep up with, but here’s a running list of the changes Musk is pushing for or has made at Twitter in just one week:
PAYING FOR VERIFICATION
While no one has been billed so far, Musk has made it clear that he plans to charge $8 for users to receive a blue verification check mark on their profile. The subscription service could go live as soon as Monday. (Users who are currently verified will retain them for free for a limited time, after which they will see their blue check disappear if they don’t pay the fee.) Verification subscribers will also receive priority status in replies, mentions, and search, the ability to post longer video and audio clips, and a reduced number of ads.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND HATE SPEECH SURGE
Fringe groups flocked to Twitter as soon as Musk closed the deal, hoping to test his free speech vows. The Anti-Defamation League said it found over 1,200 tweets and retweets with anti-Semitic memes on Twitter between last Thursday and Friday afternoon. And instances of the N-word increased by 500% in the 12 hours after he took over the platform. Twitter blamed the rise on a “trolling campaign,” saying more than 50,000 tweets repeatedly using “a particular slur”—an evident reference to the N-word—had come from just 300 accounts.
Musk threw jet fuel on the fire, though, after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was assaulted in his home, posting a conspiracy theory in reply to a Hillary Clinton tweet. He later deleted the tweet, but it had already been retweeted and liked tens of thousands of times.
AN EXECUTIVE RED WEDDING
Musk fired former CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, and General Counsel Sean Edgett before the ink was dry on the deal. He claims the terminations were “for cause,” which he hopes will void clauses in the contract that would give them a collective $122 million in golden parachute payouts. Expect a lawsuit over that.
Not too long afterward, Musk dissolved the company’s board, declaring himself the sole director of the company. Since then, more executives have left, including CMO Leslie Berland, Chief Customer Officer Sarah Personette, senior product executives Jay Sullivan and Nick Caldwell, and Twitter’s head of people and diversity Dalana Brand. And Musk has installed a new team of advisers to help him run the show.
CHANGES TO THE HOME PAGE
Unregistered visitors to Twitter used to be welcomed by a start-up page. Within 24 hours of taking over the company, Musk instructed engineers to redirect logged out visitors to the Explore page, which shows trending tweets and news stories
THE END OF REMOTE WORK
Employees who do survive Musk’s purge will no longer have the option to work remotely. While there will be some exceptions, he reportedly plans to reverse the company’s existing work-from-anywhere policy. He famously did so at Tesla, telling employees in a leaked memo they were “required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”
ADVERTISER (AND HIGH-PROFILE USER) EXODUS
Several celebrities and influencers have already packed up and left Twitter, including singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles and television producer and creator Shonda Rhimes. But more critically, advertisers are growing skittish. IPG, which is one of the world’s largest advertising companies, has recommended its clients pause spending on Twitter, due to moderation concerns. IPG clients include American Express, Coca-Cola, Fitbit, GoPro, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co, Mattel, and Spotify.
PERMABANS BEING OVERTURNED
Musk has made it clear that many users Twitter has previously banned for life, including Donald Trump, would be welcomed back. It’s not happening as fast as some people expected, though. Musk said no one will be allowed to return until Twitter sets up procedures on how to do that, which will take at least a few weeks and push those returns past the midterm elections.
THE RETURN OF VINE
On Sunday, Musk put up a poll asking simply “Bring back Vine?” Nearly five million people replied, with 70% saying yes. Within a day, reports emerged he had ordered developers to get to work, with an end-of-year deadline for the reboot of the short-form video site.
AN ONLYFANS COMPETITOR
On Wednesday, word emerged that Twitter could debut a paywalled video feature, which would let creators charge people to view their content. That would almost certainly be embraced by the adult entertainment world and could prove to be a competitor to OnlyFans. Subscribers to OnlyFans spent $4.8 billion on the site last year, just shy of Twitter’s 2021 annual revenue.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Learn more at chrismorrisjournalist.com