Elon Musk Flips Twitter the Bird



Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion

Jacob Hallberg, Staff Writer

Recently, Elon Musk, world’s richest man, and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, finalized his $44 billion purchase of social media platform, Twitter. Despite having only been CEO for a few weeks, Musk’s run of the company has already been disastrous, characterized by sudden (and potentially illegal) mass layoffs, and a subscription service which threatens to worsen the already rampant spread of misinformation on the platform. Both of which go to show that Elon Musk really doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing when it comes to Twitter.

Musk began his takeover plan back in January, when he began buying stock in Twitter, eventually becoming the largest shareholder. In April, he offered to buy the rest of the company for $44 billion. He then retracted his offer, citing Twitter’s failure to curb misinformation on the platform. A lawsuit quickly ensued, and eventually Musk retracted his retraction and went through with the purchase. After months of back and forth, Musk became CEO on October 27th, and chaos ensued. 

Almost immediately after becoming CEO he began making sweeping changes: he fired many executives, including former CEO Parag Agrawl. In the days that followed many other executives from all over the company resigned, leaving Twitter without vital personnel. Then, about a week after Musk took the reins, employees were locked out of the Twitter office building and told that they would be sent an email in the next few hours detailing whether or not they still had a job at the company. By the end of the day, nearly half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees had been fired, leaving 3,000 people wondering what they were supposed to do. As it turns out, many have already found their answer – suing Elon Musk. 

A class action lawsuit has already been filed by former employees, claiming that Musk violated federal labor laws, which state that a layoff of this size must be declared at least 60 days in advance. Musk is no stranger to lawsuits, the Twitter acquisition alone has created 3 lawsuits against the billionaire already. In fact, just a few months ago, Musk fired 500 employees, allegedly without notice, from his luxury electric car company Tesla, which warranted a lawsuit on the same grounds as the Twitter case. It seems that Elon Musk just never learns.

Before Musk came along, Twitter’s primary method for ensuring credibility was its ‘verification’ system, wherein a small blue checkmark would be added to a users name, signifying that they were a person of note, and that they were actually the person whose name was on the account. As part of his plan to overhaul Twitter, Musk unveiled “Twitter Blue”, a subscription service that, for 8 dollars a month will add the previously mentioned blue checkmark to your account. The barrier of entry to becoming verified is no longer having your identity confirmed to ensure you are who you say you are, but rather it’s a paywall, a process that notably doesn’t involve any actual verification. This change not only means that verification doesn’t really mean anything in the way of credibility anymore, but verification could very likely become a tool for spreading misinformation in the coming months and years. 

While this may sound like a premature panic, it already happened. When Musk launched the service on the 11th of November, thousands of ‘verified’ accounts were created to impersonate prominent brands, politicians, and celebrities, mostly to poke fun at the new system itself. Twitter has since suspended the service, with plans to relaunch it on November 29th.

While all of this may seem like one big joke, it’s very much a real thing, and it poses a very real risk. Twitter and other social media platforms like it play an integral role in the way information is shared in our modern world. Elon Musk has proven to be far too volatile to wield such an important tool. Hopefully he realizes his mistake before it’s too late.