Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has been horrible for everyone.
Musk bought out the social media giant in 2022, spending $44 billion on a well-known brand, and since then every person has been negatively affected by it, from users to employees to even Musk himself.
Merely a year and a half after the purchase, Twitter stock has plummeted. Being reported as worth 42 billion dollars before being taken off the stock market following the sale, estimates from Fidelity show that the worth is down to 15 billion and Musk stated he believes it is worth 4 billion now, and this is all in part due to the changes in brand and reputation that Musk has brought.
Musk made the decision to change Twitter into X, an “everything app.” Musk has been trying to have a “X” application since all the way back in 2000, where his coworkers at Paypal originally shut him down and even kicked him out of the company for the exact same reason people are apprehensive towards Twitter now; the name simply has a seedy connotation. Despite this seemingly obvious thought process, it seems the idea of X has clung in Musk’s head.
With this change in name, Musk lost billions in name brand value. “Tweets” and “retweets” were something that had become common lingo. However, Musk’s insistence on having something he can claim as “his own” has lost a lot of money. The loss is not even worth it, either, since a large majority of Twitter users still refer to the service as Twitter, not X.
In addition, Twitter endorsements are now meaningless. As a result of Musk’s envisioned verification system, accounts that were previously verified under Twitter’s old management were unlisted as public figures, and anybody could become “verified” with Twitter’s iconic blue checkmark. Anyone can be added to Twitter’s “verified” list if they pay a measly $8 a month for Twitter Blue or “X Premium,” as Musk wants to hear. This has led to an uptick in scams and bot accounts buying verification to have their posts boosted in reply sections.
CNN reports that around half of the top 1,000 advertisers on Twitter have stopped pumping money into it, seeing as the site is rapidly losing traction. This is likely due to the new censorship rules (namely the lack thereof) and Musk’s own posts on the site. Musk frequently posts insensitive images on his own page, and will frequently leave comments under posts that promote conspiracies or vilify minorities. Even without the added sting of the insensitive comments, having the lead head of the brand promoting political ideologies is bad for advertisers, since it essentially is a co-sign of his leadership, which as shown above has not been stellar.
As a result of the amount of money that Musk has thrown down the drain with this purchase, Musk enacted layoffs of staff. This decision was an odd one considering who he removed. Employees who were unsupportive of the new leadership were fired almost immediately. The New York Times stated “Musk’s team was asked to comb through messages in Twitter’s internal chat platform and make a list of employees who were insubordinate, people briefed on the plan said. They also sorted through employees’ tweets, looking for criticism. Those deemed rule breakers received emails around 1:30 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, notifying them that they were fired, according to emails viewed by The Times.” In addition to cutting those who were critical of Musk, he also cut entire teams relating to safety of users.
This Trust & Safety Council was used to give advice on matter involving on child exploitation, hate speech, and suicide. With notable groups involved such as GLAAD, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, this only leads to more concern as to why groups like these that are 100% for the betterment of society were blocked off from helping in Twitter’s choice of punishment for offenders. The questioning of this decision is not aided by Musk’s decision to unban previously suspended accounts.
Figures like Donald Trump, who incited violence at the capitol on January 6th through Twitter, Dominick McGee, who posted child sexual abuse material (which ended up getting over 3 million views) and Andrew Tate, originally banned for stating that women must “bare some responsibility” for being raped, all deeply deplorable statements and actions. Seeing accounts like these be reinstated leaves a precedent for more accounts with these ideals to exist. As a quick example, a twitter account with one hundred thousand followers and a verification badge frequently posts racist rhetoric without any issue. The account name is literally “Blacks Taking L’s.” Another that popped up was an extremely transphobic account publicly celebrating the murder of a 16 year old girl. Having accounts like this publicly paraded as verified takes Twitter’s reputation down, makes advertisers worry of their own public image by association, and targets users since the boost from verification ensures normal people will get the content of such horrific accounts. The rise in accounts like above have made Twitter a breeding ground for antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, and COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theorists. Users who complain are frequently targeted for harassment campaigns by said Twitter Blue subscribers, and companies that speak out about it are sued.
Anyone that casually uses Twitter is frequently affected by the odd and inconsistent changes Musk makes on a whim, with minority users at risk of being harassed any time they log on. Advertisers are afraid of damaging their brand name by just associating with the new Twitter as a result of all the disgusting things . Musk is going to be in debt due to all the money he’s bleeding.
What was the point in any of this?