The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, finalized his purchase of Twitter on October 27 and has faced controversies and public backlash, with many now concerned about the future of the social media site.
The Tesla and SpaceX owner started a back-and-forth with Twitter in April when he announced he was the company’s largest shareholder, owning 9% of the company stock. Musk was offered a position on the Twitter board of directors, which he rejected, before ultimately offering to buy the company at $54.20 per share on April 13.
Musk’s offer was accepted on April 25, and he attempted to back out of the deal in June. However, Musk sued Twitter in July, and the board officially approved his offer in September, finalizing the agreement on October 27, about seven months in the making.
After Musk moved in, tweeting a photo of him bringing a kitchen sink with him through Twitter HQ, he started making significant changes. First, he fired the majority of the board of directors and the company’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and chief legal officer on the first day. Then, on the second day of his ownership, Musk announced on Twitter that “comedy is now legal” as the site saw a spike in hateful conduct and hate speech.
A week after taking over, Musk fired 3,700 Twitter employees, roughly half of the global staff. Many learned of their fate when they attempted to log into their company accounts to find they were logged out permanently. As a result, many took to social media and shared messages of their layoffs under the #OneTeam hashtag. There is now a lawsuit by former employees saying the lay offs violate federal law.
After cutting half, the staff Musk decided to roll out the controversial Twitter Blue, where any user could become blue check verified if they paid $8 a month. Immediately the idea received backlash, especially from advertisers, with some worrying about impersonators.
Those fears became a reality as Twitter Blue went into effect this week and millions of accounts became verified, many of which impersonated companies, celebrities, and political figures saying everything from outlandish statements to financial promises.
Musk, who had said offering a subscription to the blue verification checkmark would be a “great equalizer,” soon changed his tune and implemented new rules saying parody accounts should be clearly stated or they would be permanently banned. As a result, some accounts, including that of comedian Kathy Griffin, changed their names to Elon Musk, leading to their permanent denial and making accounts no longer being able to change their names unless given permission.
An account posing as drug company Eli Lily tweeted that insulin would now be free, causing the company stock to plummet and forcing them to make a public announcement about the fake account.
As of Saturday, Twitter Blue is no longer an available feature on Twitter. However, Musk is reportedly asking laid-off staff if they would be interested in returning to the company. The next few weeks will tell how Twitter and Musk will handle this new chapter.