Elon Musk dragged his feet before shelling out $44 billion to buy Twitter, and by all appearances he now doesn’t know what to do with it. The billionaire’s plans seem to change by the hour—from his overhaul of the blue-check verification system, to the way he actually implements his “free speech” principles—leaving users, and Twitter’s remaining employees, frequently in the dark.
Things were easier when the world’s richest man was simply a Twitter troll, lobbing grenades at its leadership and making juvenile references to the numbers “420” and “69.” But now the trolls have come for Musk.
The chaos is wreaking havoc on the platform, and creating challenges for Musk as he works to salvage his investment. Internally, he has spoken candidly about the bleak situation, claiming in an email to employees early Thursday that there is “a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn” unless it can dramatically boost revenue from premium subscriptions.
It’s been hard to keep up with the constantly shifting storyline—even for the reporters covering it. For a timeline of Musk’s recent decision-making, read on:
Musk walks into the Twitter offices carrying a sink.
And tweets a video of it with the caption “let that sink in.” Don’t ask us why.
A couple of clowns pose as laid-off Twitter workers outside headquarters.
And actually manage to trick several media outlets. People losing their jobs is so funny, right?
The Verge reports that Musk will start charging $20 a month for verification, as part of a reconfigured “Twitter Blue” program.
Blue Checks everywhere lose their minds.
Hate speech goes ham on the platform.
Researchers from Montclair State University found an “immediate, visible, and measurable spike” in the amount of “vulgar and hostile” rhetoric on the site in the 12 hours since Musk took over. (Twitter will ultimately remove more than 1,500 accounts in an attempt to curtail this behavior.)
Musk actually lays off more than 3,000 Twitter employees…
….and then asks dozens of them to come back.
The affected employees were laid off “by accident,” according to Bloomberg.
Just kidding guys, blue checks will only cost $8.
And also if you already have one, you can keep it for free. And also you can post longer videos? And get fewer ads? And if you don’t buy it your tweets will be buried in a giant garbage heap?
But you cannot get them just yet because it’s almost Election Day and holy shit would that be a mess.
Twitter starts losing advertisers
Major ones—like General Motors, General Mills and United Airlines. Probably for reasons related to item No. 4.
Musk blames the advertiser exodus on activists who are “trying to destroy free speech.”
They tell us they’re not that worried about it.
Twitter suspends a bunch of people who were impersonating Musk.
Including comedians like Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman. Apparently comedy is not, in fact, legal on Twitter.
Musk hosts a Twitter Space to try to win advertisers back.
He acted like slightly less of a troll, but also compared the old verification system to one of America’s wars. (Civil War or Revolutionary? Your guess is as good as ours.)
Jesus Christ gets a verified account.
Along with fake accounts for George W. Bush, O.J. Simpson and Rudy Giulliani. Basically, the new verification system is going just great.
Multiple top privacy and security officers quit, according to the Washington Post, sparking concern from the FTC.
In the past two weeks, the company also lost its chief marketing officer, head of product, the chief customer officer, and head of people and diversity, to name a few.
Musk officially alienates everyone left at Twitter by demanding they all come back into the office full time.
And also calls the economic future “dire” and predicts Twitter will not survive it without “significant subscription revenue” in an email to staff.
Two more crucial execs jump ship.
My, it’s a thin crowd on the Titanic this evening. Insiders tell Axios: “It’s over ... Trust is gone." (One of the execs reportedly later un-resigned.)
We all die in a fiery blaze.