With recent ownership under Elon Musk, Twitter has gone through some major changes. Everyday users may not notice a difference as they browse the app, but many of these changes are going on behind the scenes.
The initial takeover of Twitter by Musk began on April 14, 2022 but it wasn’t until Oct. 27 that Musk completed his $44 billion buyout of the company. With his newfound ownership, Musk wasted no time transforming not only the app, but the people who help make Twitter possible.
Upon purchasing Twitter, Musk went on to fire at least four top executives of the app that same night, including the CEO and chief financial officer. Musk’s firing spree did not end there, as layoffs within the company under his management have reached nearly 50% company-wide. While these layoffs seem to be a problem only for the people who are losing their jobs, the maintenance of Twitter is at extreme risk.
Another threat leaving the future of Twitter in jeopardy is the amount of advertisers who are pulling out of their affiliation with the app. Companies such as Chevrolet, Ford, Chipotle and Jeep have announced their decision to no longer advertise on Twitter since its new ownership. These corporations have decided to halt their advertising due to concerns over the platform’s new content moderation policies.
Musk has also chosen to unban several previously banned accounts, the most controversial being that of former President Donald Trump. Trump had been officially banned from Twitter since Jan. 8, 2021, following the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Musk said it was incorrect to ban Trump when speaking at the Financial Times’ Future of the Car conference.
The most notable change in Twitter to its users though, is the addition of a new purchasable version of Twitter, Twitter Blue. For $7.99 a month, users have the option to purchase the coveted blue checkmark along with other features, such as an edit button.
While a seemingly innocent addition to the app, Twitter Blue has caused some major problems for big companies as people have gone to abuse the power that comes with the blue checkmark. The signature checkmark was previously free to accounts who were deemed notable and influential in society by the company – and verified to truly be who they say they were – but now it is available to anyone willing to spend $7.99.
Trolling accounts have since appeared impersonating public figures such as George W. Bush and companies such as Chiquita Bananas, spreading misinformation by changing their profile picture and name along with purchasing the blue check.
The major pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, has probably been the biggest example of the consequences that come with giving just anyone a blue checkmark.
“We are excited to announce that insulin is free now,” said a user impersonating Eli Lilly’s account via tweet on Nov. 10.
This prank went on to cost Eli Lilly billions of dollars and they were forced to issue a public apology addressing the issue.
Many users are not feeling consequences for what is going on with the app. Sophia Antonelli, a freshman studying psychology, is an active twitter user but has not heard of many of these changes.
“No, not anything yet,” Antonelli said, referencing if she had perceived any changes since Musk’s takeover.
Others, though, are fully aware of the controversy Musk has brought to Twitter. Two friends Livvy Rhonton, a freshman studying exercise physiology, and Olivia Earlage, a freshman studying retail and fashion merchandising, are frequent twitter users who aren’t appreciative of what Musk has done with the app. In particular, Rhonton and Earlage have a problem with the unbanning spree that Musk has been on.
“I mean, we love free speech, but to a certain extent,” said Earlage. “Obviously these people got banned for a reason. It's not like they’ve had a whole mind change and are great people now.”
Rhonton seconded Earlage’s thinking, wishing the app had continued its ban on some users.
“I think it’s so stupid,” said Rhonton. “Donald Trump literally incited an insurrection by just a few words because his followers go so crazy. Taking away his platforms helped with some of that and now that he’s back, who knows what’s gonna happen?”
With the future of Twitter being such an uncertainty, it is unsure whether Musk will have a lasting impact on the app. What is certain is that Twitter Blue has caused major ramifications to not only famous figures and corporations but to the public as well who have fallen subject to misinformation.