Written By: Kimberly Nicolas
On April 14th 2022, Elon Musk made a public proposal to buy Twitter. At the time of this proposal, Musk had a 9% ownership stake over Twitter, being their biggest shareholder at the time. In Musk’s publicized offer, he stated if his offer was not accepted, he would need to reconsider his position as a shareholder, ultimately resulting in a critical hit to Twitter’s stock price. On October 27th, 2022, the months-long dispute ended in Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter for an approximate 44 billion dollars.
Although this final decision would spark a viral outburst amongst Twitter users and employees alike, Twitter would not undergo massive change as many had feared, on the surface that is.
Recently, more internal changes within the company have been noticed, reported, and thoroughly discussed amongst the Twitter community. On October 27th, one of Musk’s first orders was to fire three of Twitter’s top executives. The top three included: Now former CEO Parag Argawal, former Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, and former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde. Having mentioned his dislike for censorship amongst the platform, many have concluded that the dismissal of these executives was due to a dispute amongst conservativity of the platform. Fortunately for them, the three dismissed had walked away with millions from hefty compensation from their shares, a year of healthcare, and more from the “Golden Parachute Compensation,” an agreement amongst shareholders.
Many have speculated these events as signs of “corporate chaos.” Musk made his own Twitter response on November 14, tweeting “He’s fired”, in response to a Twitter thread under Eric Frohnhoefers tweet, “Maybe he should ask questions privately. Maybe using Slack or Email,” showing clear hostility between the two to the public. Frohnhoefer’s response to the public dismissal being a salute emoji.
More recently, Musk’s promotion of “Twitter Blue”, a payment subscription for verification on Twitter, sparked controversy. It was originally set to cost $20 dollars per month to account for content creator revenue and the approximate $4 million dollars Twitter loses a day. Twitter has also made sizable layoffs early in Musk’s tenure. Musk announced, “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.” Musk furthered this idea in an interaction with author Stephen King regarding monthly prices of Twitter and Twitter Blue. Elon replied to King stating, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?” A number of advertisers who had cut ties with Twitter after Musk took over claim “activist groups pressured advertisers”.
However, what most criticize Musk for is the hypocrisy of his “freedom of speech for the people” while having Twitter users pay $8 a month to have a voice on the platform. Twitter Blue simply gives the microphone to those who have the money, which could be a factor in the rise of hate speech on the platform. Musk refuted this notion, claiming, “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bulls***t. Power to the People! Blue for $8/month.”
As of now, Twitter Blue has been shut down due to Internet trolling being taken to new heights that many predicted. Impersonation of large corporations, companies, political figures, etc. has been sweeping Twitter and with devastating effects. This is the precise picture Musk swore Twitter Blue would prevent, but many predicted. Companies such as Eli Lilly and Company and Lockheed Martin suffered major effects in the stock market due to new Twitter interference. Eli Lilly and Co., for example, dropped 3% in stock value after posts published by impersonators. This would not be the first time a social media post has had massive market effects, but there is concern with the frequency and ease. Whether Twitter Blue makes a comeback or not remains to be seen, but it has clearly been an interesting and rocky start to Musk’s time at the helm of Twitter.