By: Nicolas Cital
On October 27, Elon Musk completed his 44 billion dollar purchase of the popular social media site Twitter. Following his purchase, a new wave of controversy quickly sprung up following his subsequent handling of Twitter. Many are inflamed over his new verification policy, and the mass layoff of about 50 percent of the Twitter staff and treatment of the remaining staff is not helping either.
As time has passed, it has become increasingly clear that many of Elon Musk’s decisions, and his handling of Twitter, are major missteps that are proving to cause more harm than good.
Prior to Musk’s ownership, Twitter’s verification process was a free way of knowing if a Twitter handle was really who they said they were. It helped prevent impersonators from spreading misinformation, creating advertising scams, and more by making people who applied for verification prove their identity. However, shortly after Musk acquired Twitter, news of a new policy for the verification process came to light.
This new service, titled “Twitter Blue,” allows users to receive a verification check mark and other benefits by simply paying a monthly fee of 7.99. Previous accounts will retain their verification marks, however, this new service removes the previous need for a person to prove who they say they are.
With the removal of the vetting step in the verification process, many fear that users now have an easy way of impersonating other people. Twitter’s plan to curb this issue is to prevent people from changing their display name, but only temporarily. However, temporary name changes still leave the door open for people to later change their names and pretend to be someone they are not.
There has also been increased frustration among users lately, due to the fact that a different check mark was given to some verified users to know they are real. This makes the entire new service redundant by handing out a marking that accomplishes what the previous verification process already covered. People are also taking issue with some of the benefits included with Twitter Blue. One of the stated benefits is that people with Twitter Blue will get a priority ranking with their posts and replies.
Musk’s stance on freedom of speech gives the impression that some users’ speech is freer than others, as long as they pay for such a privilege. This is most certainly a major misstep in how Twitter is being handled. It is likely due to the large sum of money that Musk had to pay to acquire Twitter.
Musk described in a recent statement that the company is losing around 4 million dollars a day. Therefore, it would be understandable to monetize certain parts of the site in order to curb the loss of revenue, however, the direction Musk has taken on Twitter has caused too much damage and derision to make the changes worthwhile. Even now, Twitter has lost millions of users, and with some advertisers pausing their ad spending on Twitter, revenue only continues to fall
Further controversy was stirred following Musk’s decision for a massive layoff of 50 percent of the Twitter staff. For many, this came without warning as employees suddenly could not log in to their work emails before the announcement came. Musk justifies this mass layoff as being due to the money that Twitter is losing.
This action was met with a lawsuit as the company did not give employees the legal amount of notice required. However, later reports found that employees that were previously let go are now being asked to come back to the company because several people were laid off and let go by “mistake.”
The remaining employees that remained in the company began to face their own new set of challenges as well. With fewer workers now available at the company, Twitter employees are working longer hours, reportedly 12-hour work days, seven days a week. To add more fuel to the fire, the option to work from home, which the previous Twitter CEO established in 2020, is now being rescinded. Workers are now expected to come back into the office on a full-time basis.
With all of these actions compounding together, it seems obvious that Elon Musk has made major mistakes in how he is handling Twitter. It almost seems inevitable that the site will start to lose steam and lose its popularity if changes are not made to mitigate the problems that have sprung up from the disastrous transition in ownership. The future will tell how this all plays out, however, for the time being, it, unfortunately, does not look too promising.