Elon Musk at the head of Twitter: the first laborious step of the multi-billionaire
First renamed, by himself, “chief moron” in his Twitter bio, Elon Musk now presents himself as the “operator of the Twitter complaint hotline”. Less than a week after buying the social network, the multi-billionaire, boss of Tesla and Space X, quickly made his mark, attracting the ire of users followed by millions of people , and strong criticism from the employees.
Friday, October 28, after six months of negotiations and some about-face, the richest man in the world became the general manager of Twitter. Immediately after its acquisition, Elon Musk dissolved the board of directors, becoming the “sole director of Twitter”, according to an official document submitted on Monday to the financial markets authority (SEC). The first tweet from the new boss of the social network – “The bird is free” – was seen in a different way. Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Digital, for example, answered him directly: “In Europe, he will fly according to our rules.” While for the former employee of the American NSA and whistleblower Edward Snowden “it will cause controversy, but the censorship of platforms is clearly too far”.
Since then, the boss of Tesla has expressed himself on the social network sometimes to joke, or “troll”, sometimes to make announcements about the direction he wants to give the company.
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Number of senior executive departures?
In addition to the removal of the board of directors, several leaders have reportedly been fired, without official confirmation. According to several American media citing employees, Elon Musk brought in Tesla engineers to review the work of Twitter employees and proceed with layoffs. “The ongoing removal process is a farce and a disgrace. Tesla minions are making decisions on people they know nothing about except the number of lines of code produced. This is complete nonsense,” Taylor tweeted last Sunday. Leese, the manager of an engineering group he says fired him.
According to the “Washington Post”, the multi-billionaire plans to lay off about 75% of his new company’s 7,500 employees. As of now, Vijaya Gadde, chief legal officer, and Jay Sullivan, chief product officer, have removed all mention of Twitter from their profiles. The account of Nick Caldwell, the head of engineering, indicates a “former manager at Twitter”. Sarah Personette, the director of operations in charge of relations with advertisers, announced her resignation, as did Dalana Brand, who nurtured diversity within the Californian group.
The Elon troll
At the end of the term, Elon Musk promised to form a “content moderation council” to set the limits, which he currently considers too strict, like many political figures on the American right. He personally responded to various user complaints accusing Twitter of censorship, stressing one that the network should be “balanced and not in favor of any side” and another that the profiles is “suspended for minor or questionable reasons (is ) freed from Twitter jail”.
On Sunday, he himself deleted one of his tweets, which included a link to a conspiracy theory about an attack on the husband of Nancy Pelosi, the leader of Democrats in Congress. Without, however, stopping himself from making a joke about it, responding to an article from the “New York Times” that headlined his sharing of false news: “This is false! I did not tweet link to the New York Times!”. “The Elon troll should alert Twitter boss Elon to withdraw (this tweet), commented former UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression David Kaye, ironic about the billionaire’s various covers .
A controversial first project: making certification pay
On Tuesday, Elon Musk also clarified his first major project. The new CEO, followed by 112 million subscribers, aims to build a subscription at $8 per month for users who want to certify their account as real. “The current system of lords and peasants, those with blue ticks and those without, it’s bullshit. Power to the people! Blue for 8 dollars a month,” he said. In other words, Elon Musk wants to charge for certified social network accounts. Currently, only certain profiles can request this guarantee of authenticity, in particular governments, companies, media, political, cultural or sports personalities.
The advantages of these subscribers are that their tweets will appear in priority, but they will also be able to post longer videos, and be exposed to “half of the advertising”, says Elon Musk. This new offering should help the platform fight fake accounts and diversify its revenue sources, as its business model depends 90% on advertising, a market itself that is struggling for now. This announcement is also dictated by the need to pay its debts related to the transaction: at least 12 billion dollars will have to be returned by Twitter from 2023. It is not easy for a social network that has rarely been profitable throughout its history.
However, the very idea of having to pay to get your account certified has drawn a lot of criticism. “If everyone buys a verification badge, there will be a problem with the credibility of the information,” tweeted Pranay Pathole, an engineer fan of the multi-billionaire. According to the specialized site The Verge, Elon Musk first thought of raising the price of the monthly subscription to 20 dollars. “Twenty bucks a month to keep my blue badge? Fuck them, they should be paying me instead. If this is set up, I’m gone,” tweeted bestselling author Stephen King on Monday. Elon Musk responded by suggesting eight dollars.
According to the employees, the engineers concerned are expected to work tirelessly to overhaul the subscription by November 7, and have been informed that their jobs are at stake.
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