So, Twitter is complete chaos at the moment, isn’t it?
To be fair, I’m not sure Twitter has ever been anything but chaos. But the Twitter that Elon Musk now owns is has entered a chaos that’s fascinating to watch, if only because the changes that are being made feel completely batshit.
I feel for the thousands of Twitter employees that Musk mercilessly kicked to the curb, then subsequently tried to offer some of them their jobs back. Because, when you try and skip the proper process and get rid of a huge chunk of your workforce after only about a week of deliberating, you’re going to leave your company in a shit state.
But a shit state is what Musk is seemingly hellbent on turning Twitter into. Whether it’s saying that ‘free speech’ is now back at Twitter (although it seemingly doesn’t extend to allowing people to take the piss out of Musk), making us all worry that he’s about to subject us to Trump’s inane ramblings again, or introducing a new verification system that was immediately shown to be useless.
If you’re not clued up on the blue tick verification system, it’s basically used to show that the account is the official account of that person, organisation, company etc. In regards to people, ticks are generally reserved for people who are notable in some way. So, a celebrity will be verified, as may a journalist who has plenty of by-lines. It makes it easier for Twitter to stop people impersonating that person.
In an attempt to raise money, Musk said that the paid Twitter Blue feature will give anyone a blue tick for the princely sum of $8 (£6.99 in the UK). This totally defeats the point of verification. If anyone can pay to be verified then it not only no longer makes it special, but what’s to also stop them pretending to be someone else? Apparently, nothing, as today has shown. You’ve got someone pretending to be President Biden lubing up, Mario flipping people off, Trump ‘coming back’, and even Jesus getting verified. Advertisers were pissed (EDIT: Check out this Twitter thread of some companies that were impersonated), and avoiding pissing off the people who make you money is Business 101.
Twitter tried to make it clearer by showing you why they were verified when you click on the tick; either it’s because they’re notable, or that the user has paid Twitter Blue (which then makes you a target of ridicule). But people don’t do their due diligence and will easily fall for a fake account, simply because it looks official and now has a tick. People fell for it before they had a tick, so it’s now even less obvious to those who can’t be bothered to notice that the username is wrong.
It’s a stupid system, thought up by a person who thousands of cult-like followers think is some sort of genius. A genius wouldn’t have bought Twitter in the first place. It doesn’t make a profit and it’s commonly known as the ‘hell site’. Musk even tried to back out, which practicality forced him to take it on. I’m not sure he knows what he even wants to do with it.
Apparently, he’s discussed putting the entire site behind a paywall. I don’t think Twitter is as important to people as he thinks. Once you ask people to start paying, they’ll leave the site in droves. There’s a cost of living crisis and a global recession on the way. I don’t think people really give a shit about paying to tweet when they’re trying to pay their bills.
Maybe he knows he’s fucked up and is actively trying to burn Twitter to the ground. People who say this reckon that he can brush off the billions he’d lose since he’s the richest man in the world. Nah, I put it to you that he would have just paid the money that Twitter would have got if they sued him for pulling out if he wasn’t that bothered about losing money. Oh, and he also wouldn’t fire all those staff to save money. But, hey, I could be wrong. His leadership of Twitter so far is so chaotic that I have no idea what this dude might do next.
It’s sort of both fascinating and hilarious watching Musk’s flailing attempts to change Twitter over the last few days, and to read everyone’s reactions to it. I’ve seen some of the funniest Tweets ever, and I’ve probably spent more time on the site than ever.
Will Twitter fall? I’m unsure, but I can’t see it being a business success anytime soon.
EDIT (Friday, 11 November): Elon Musk had his first meeting with Twitter employees not long after I published this post. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go well. He wants staff to go ‘hardcore’, said the company might go bankrupt (smart move to buy it then, eh?), said remote work was basically ending, amongst plenty of other answers. Not long after this meeting, a number of key people resigned, so it doesn’t sound like they were impressed with what he had to say.
Anyway, you can read the full transcript of the meeting over at The Verge.