Advertiser flight, mass layoffs, cascading resignations, cacophony around new features, suspended journalist accounts: Since its acquisition in late October, the social network Twitter has been rocking at the heart of the Elon Musk storm.
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On October 27, 2022, the controversial billionaire Elon Musk announced the purchase of Twitter for 44,000 million dollars, after a saga of more than six months. “The bird is free,” he tweets, alluding to the network’s logo.
“Twitter is now in good hands,” greets former President Donald Trump, banned from the platform after the assault on the Capitol in early 2021.
On the contrary, the associations fear that Elon Musk will open the floodgates to misinformation and hate speech.
The European Union warns on the 28th that Twitter will have to respect its new digital regulations, which oblige the large platforms to moderate their content.
Elon Musk tries to reassure by promising an upcoming “content moderation advice”.
After the acquisition, General Motors temporarily stops paying for ads on Twitter, becoming the first major advertiser to question its presence on the network, 90% of whose income comes from advertising.
Other companies follow, such as the American giants General Mills (Cheerios and Häagen-Dazs) and Mondelez international (Oreo cookies) or even Volkswagen and Audi.
Eight dollars to certify your account
On November 1, Elon Musk announced the upcoming launch of an $8 monthly subscription for users who want to have their account certified authentic and be less exposed to advertising.
Account certification was previously free and only accessible to certain profiles, such as governments, companies, the media, political, cultural or sports personalities, etc.
On the 4th, Twitter begins a wave of layoffs, affecting around 50% of its 7,500 employees worldwide.
“Unfortunately, there is no other option when the company is losing more than four million dollars a day,” defends Elon Musk.
On the 9th, a great cacophony surrounds the launch on the iPhone of the new Twitter Blue, the paid subscription to authenticate your account.
For 48 hours, many accounts pose as celebrities or companies, from basketball player LeBron James to Nintendo. These impersonations cause Twitter to suspend Twitter Blue on the 11th.
On the 10th, the US Competition Agency (FTC) issued a rare warning: “We are following recent developments on Twitter with great concern. No CEO or company is above the law.”
The FTC notes that Twitter risks substantial fines if it fails to comply with privacy and data security regulations. However, many employees aware of these regulations have left Twitter.
On the 16th, the billionaire gives an ultimatum to his employees who survived the first wave of layoffs. They must commit before the next day to “work long hours at high intensity” otherwise they will be fired.
According to various US media, hundreds of them are choosing to leave.
After a subscriber poll, Elon Musk decided on the 19th to lift the suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
In the process, it announces the massive reinstatement of banned accounts -if they have not broken the law-, as well as the end of the fight against COVID misinformation.
The EU warns him on the 30th and calls on him to fight against misinformation.
On December 2, Twitter suspended the account of American rapper Kanye West for “inciting violence”, revealing the limits of the absolute freedom of expression that Elon Musk advocates.
On the same day, French President Emmanuel Macron, on a state visit to the United States, said he had a “clear and candid discussion,” in particular about “content moderation,” with Elon Musk in New Orleans.
After several tests, the billionaire launched a new paid Twitter subscription formula on the 12th, including account authentication.
Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists covering the social network and its new owner on the 15th. Some of them had tweeted the day before Twitter’s decision to suspend the account that automatically reported the routes of Elon Musk’s private jet.
The EU immediately threatens the latter with “sanctions”. “We have a problem with Twitter,” says Berlin.
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