After almost a year of keeping us guessing, Elon Musk finally took over Twitter and became the company’s chief executive officer. This marks the fourth company where he holds this position. You’d be forgiven for wondering what CEOs actually do all day if one man can ‘run’ four large companies simultaneously. We’re fed this arrogant narrative of ‘meritocracy’, that CEOs just aren’t built like the rest of us. We are told they’re non-human workaholic entities whose days consist of twenty hours of non-stop grinding, surviving off of green juice and coffee. It’s safe to say this narrative is rapidly losing its legitimacy in society.
Nonetheless, some Twitter users were thrilled at his acquisition of the company. On the other hand, many were horrified at the prospect and believed that the app’s future is bleak in the wake of the changes he announced in the last week.
The biggest change so far is the introduction of a Twitter subscription service to be known as ‘Twitter Blue’. Subscribers may pay $7.99 per month and receive the coveted blue tick on their account. This update entirely undermines the purpose of the verification feature. It was (legitimately) never up for sale. It was initially introduced to stop impersonation on the site, and users would have security that the individual they were interacting with was the real deal. Out of approximately 450 million monthly users, there are only 400,000 verified accounts. Therefore, with a blue tick available to anyone for $7.99, this new feature poses a great threat to the safety of users. Additionally, it has been rumoured that Twitter subscribers may have priority in mentions and replies. It seems that Musk should be reminded that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. This is the most obvious indicator that Twitter’s new CEO fundamentally does not understand the platform and is arguably not fit to hold the position. Coupled with the reality that he has fired many long-standing staff members who did not concur with his new changes, this indicates that the original Twitter staff do not have faith in Elon Musk’s leadership and vision for the platform’s future.
He has spoken incessantly about how ‘free speech is back on Twitter’ yet ironically, yet many users have reported in recent days that Elon Musk’s account was removed from their blocked list. They have insisted that they themselves did not personally unblock him. One Twitter user even claimed that their account was deleted after making a joke about the new CEO. Whilst these accusations are at present only speculation, free speech does not include forcing users to view Musk’s content against their wishes. Moreover, it is a frightening prospect to consider what Musk’s version of ‘free speech’ is. Twitter has faced substantial criticism in the past for failing to regulate hate speech and trolling on its platform, and many users fear this may only worsen under the company’s new owner.
Furthermore, Musk tweeted recently that ‘comedy is now legal on twitter’ presumably in reference to his claim that Twitter had gotten so ‘woke’ that any attempt to tweet dark humour would result in the suspension of the user’s account and the account holder would find themselves ‘cancelled’. Yet, unsurprisingly, Twitter users who have made comedic jabs at the new CEO, such as Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) have found their accounts suspended. It is therefore plausible to assume that Elon Musk approves of dark comedy and ‘freedom of speech’ on Twitter, so long as he is not on the receiving end.
All things considered, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Twitter’s main advertising partner IMG are allegedly planning to step away from the platform just weeks after Musk’s Twitter takeover. As a result, the CEO has informed users that Twitter has therefore faced a massive drop in revenue despite his reassurances that all is continuing to run smoothly at HQ. We shall wait apprehensively for updates in the next coming weeks. Will this be the end of Twitter as we know it?
Written by Darragh McKee Mathews