Happy December everyone and welcome to this month’s Sparks!! We’re taking a little bit of a different approach this month as we felt that we couldn’t talk about the latest news in the digital world without discussing the elephant in the room … Twitter!!!! The goings on at Twitter had the world abuzz in November, wondering just how exactly Elon Musk is running the company and what his plans are.
Since the initial discussion of Elon Musk joining Twitter’s board back in April of this year, Twitter and Elon have had a ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship that would put even the cheesiest rom-com to shame. Fast forward to October 27th 2022 and the deal between Twitter CEOs and Elon Musk had closed with Musk acquiring twitter for approximately $44 billion, but we wouldn’t exactly call it a happily ever after!
From the word go this deal has been shrouded in controversy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Below we’ve put together a timeline of events of what has gone on in the month of November at Twitter (yes, this is JUST what happened in November, it really was that much!)
What On Earth Is Going On At Twitter:
November 1st 2022:
- Elon Musk confirms rumours that he plans to introduce a charge for Twitter verification at the ‘reduced’ rate of just $8 a month, in a conversation with author Stephen King, of all people?! In a later tweet Musk stated “I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.”
- Rumours also begin to swirl that Musk has ordered staff at Twitter to work 12-hour days in order to facilitate his plan of rolling out the new verification system in just a week. (Spoiler alert – his ideas did not go to plan!)
November 4th 2022:
- The most headlines-making day – the day that Elon Musk laid off half of Twitter’s staff. Musk claimed the layoffs were due to a huge drop in company revenue, which made the situation unavoidable.
- From an Irish perspective, Twitter laid off approximately 50% of its Irish team with one source at Twitter Ireland calling the situation carnage.
November 9th 2022:
- Twitter launches its new paid for account verification system Twitter Blue, allowing users to pay for their blue verification tick for $8 a month.
November 10th 2022:
- In his first address to the company as CEO (yes, it took him 2 weeks to address his new team) Musk outlines the dire situation that he believes lies ahead for Twitter, warning that Twitter does not have the necessary cash flow to survive and that there is a high likelihood that bankruptcy is on the horizon.
November 11th 2022:
- We’re back to Twitter Blue again and this time Musk is pausing all Twitter Blue subscriptions until further notice due to concern that users were abusing the system by pretending to be brands and public figures (an outcome that shocked no one). With Musk stating “Going forward, accounts engaged in parody, must include ‘parody’ in their name not just in bio. To be more precise, accounts doing parody impersonations. Basically, tricking people is not ok”
November 12th 2022:
- It is revealed that under Musk’s leadership, Twitter has let go of 80% of its workforce without formal notice.
November 14th 2022:
- Musk announces that he is turning off microservices “bloatware” which he claims is not necessary for the site to run, saying in a Tweet that “I was told ~1200 RPCs independently by several engineers at Twitter, which matches # of microservices. The ex-employee is wrong. Same app in US takes ~2 secs to refresh (too long), but ~20 secs in India, due to bad batching/verbose comms. Actually useful data transferred is low. Part of today will be turning off the “microservices” bloatware. Less than 20% are actually needed for Twitter to work!”
- Contrary to this, experts outside of Twitter warned of a potential Twitter outage as a result of turning off microservices, warning users to back up their personal data.
November 15th 2022:
- Musk fires more Twitter employees, this time for expressing negative opinions of him in a private Slack channel.
- The legal battle between Twitter and Musk is finally drawn to a close, as a judge dismisses the lawsuit.
- Musk announces the relaunch of the new “Blue Verified” program (the new name for Twitter Blue). Musk shared the announcement on Twitter saying: “Punting relaunch of Blue Verified to November 29th to make sure that it is rock solid”.
November 16th – 18th 2022:
- Musk issues an ultimatum to all Twitter staff to commit to new, “hardcore” working conditions, or else be let go with three months’ severance pay.
- The deadline for Twitter employees to accept Musk’s ultimatum arrives, with the majority of Twitter employees making the decision to leave the company.
- Twitter announces a new policy that accounts that are less than 90 days old cannot sign up for Twitter Blue, which is soon to launch.
November 19th – 20th 2022:
- Elon Musk makes the decision to reinstate former US president Donald Trump’s Twitter account, based on the results of a pole of users that was run on Musk’s account.
- Along with this, rapper Kanye West also has his Twitter account reinstated following a ban for antisemitic content.
- To top it all off, Andrew Tate, self-proclaimed “self-help” personality also had his Twitter account reinstated following a ban for promoting misogynistic content.
- This was also headline grabbing news for Twitter and sparked a much wider free speech debate on social media.
November 21st 2022:
- Elon Musk announces that the launch of Twitter Blue has been delayed indefinitely until the company can figure out a way to stop impersonations on the platform.
November 22nd 2022:
- Elon Musk makes the decision to bring in well-known hacker George Hotz as an intern at Twitter to fix Twitter’s search engine.
November 29th 2022:
- The final update at the time of writing this month’s Sparks, Elon Musk has claimed that he is not beyond creating a new mobile phone. In a conversation with right-wing podcast host Liz Wheeler, the subject of tech giants kicking Twitter off of their app stores was approached. Musk stated that while he hoped that this would not happen, he is not beyond creating a new alternative mobile phone for users if the situation were to arise that Apple and Android ban the Twitter app from their app stores.
So, there you have it folks, a timeline of exactly what has gone down at Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover, is anyone else exhausted or is it just us??
Now, what this all means for the future of Twitter and the digital landscape overall is hard to say. Many are predicting that most users will jump ship from Twitter sooner rather than later, but you have another group who believe that all of this controversy won’t have much of an effect on Twitter’s future. What will actually happen? Only time will tell really, but we’ll keep you up to date on it all in our future Sparks so keep checking back for updates!
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