Since Elon Musk bought Twitter at the end of October, it’s been a nonstop shitshow. He tweeted a conspiracy theory; he laid off half the company; he asked some of those people to come back; he rolled out the paid verification feature, unleashing parodies; he made a new gray “Official” check, took it away, then put it back in place; he banned parody accounts that made fun of him. Oh, and he fired people who criticized him, either on Twitter or in a company-only Slack server.
It’s exhausting to keep up with the latest. But, for your convenience, we’re going to keep updating this post with the day-in, day-out news emerging from Twitter.
Wednesday, Jan. 4:
A hacker posted data from 200 million Twitter users online. Last month, an Israeli cybersecurity firm found that a hacker called Ryushi was attempting to sell the personal data of 400 million Twitter users, including the email addresses and phone numbers of high-profile people such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donald Trump Jr., and Doja Cat. The hacker originally asked $200,000 for the dataset, but apparently opted to leak much of it to a hacker forum for free.
Tuesday, Jan. 3:
Twitter is bringing back political advertising. The site had clamped down on cause-based advertising in 2019, banning political ads outright and subjecting social campaigns on subjects like climate change to tough restrictions. Twitter, whose advertising business is in trouble, announced it was reversing those decisions:
Friday, Dec. 30:
Twitter’s landlord is suing. Columbia Reit, which manages the Hartford Building in San Francisco where Twitter headquarters is based, filed a lawsuit for $136,250 in unpaid rent, according to Bloomberg. The social media company reportedly had stopped paying rent on offices around the world.
Wednesday, Dec. 28:
Twitter experiences global glitchiness. Many users started reporting experiencing glitches, ranging from being logged out of the desktop version to having the app just plain crash. Musk later tweeted that there had been a number of “backend server architecture changes” made to the site and that it should run faster in the future.
Saturday, Dec. 24:
Twitter brings back suicide-prevention warnings. The alerts, which targeted searches relating to self-harm and directed users to support, were removed by order of Musk, Reuters reported Dec. 23. However, following outcry from suicide-prevention groups, they were reinstated on Christmas Eve. Despite a Twitter manager confirming on record that the alerts had been removed to be revamped, Musk tweeted that the Reuters reporting was “fake news” and said that Twitter “doesn’t prevent suicide.”
Thursday, Dec. 22:
Twitter introduces view counts under Tweets. Musk explained the change, which was not well received by users, thusly:
The Musk private jet–tracking account is back. Florida student Jack Sweeney, the creator of the permanently suspended @ElonJet, skirted Musk’s ban on real-time private jet trackers by setting up a new account that tracks Musk’s jet with a 24-hour delay.
Tuesday, Dec. 20:
Musk announces that he will step down as Twitter CEO. Musk tweeted the news in the wake of the Twitter poll he ran in which 57.5% of voters said he should vacate the top spot. He said he’d do so as soon as he can “find someone foolish enough to take the job.”
A member of Musk’s security team is being investigated by police. Last week, Musk tweeted that a “crazy stalker” had followed a car carrying his son X Æ A-12, then blocked the vehicle and climbing on the hood. Musk used that as justification for suspending @ElonJet, the Twitter account that tracked his private jet, and journalists who covered the ban. However, police in South Pasadena, California, released a statement that cast doubt on Musk’s version of events. According to the cops, one of Musk’s security staff is under investigation for “assault with a deadly weapon involving a vehicle” after hitting a 29-year-old man with his car.
Twitter allegedly helped US government psyop campaigns. Documents shared by the company with reporter Lee Fang of the Intercept show that while Twitter halted disinformation campaigns by rival states, it boosted covert online operations by the US. According to these latest “Twitter Files,” US Central Command, or CENTCOM, requested special treatment for accounts that, among other things, promoted the Saudi-backed war in Yemen and tweeted that US drone strikes against terrorists were accurate. Fang wrote that while he could not select documents from Twitter freely, no conditions were placed on him to report the story.
Monday, Dec. 19:
The results are in, and the public wants Musk to step down. More than 17.5 million people voted in Musk’s poll asking if he should step down as Chief Twit. He lost, with 57.5% of voters saying that he should leave. Although Musk had said he would abide by the results, he did not directly respond to the vote all day.
Sunday, Dec. 18:
Musk initiates a Twitter poll on whether he should step down. The billionaire asked whether he should remain as CEO of the company and said he would abide by the results. The high-risk poll was posted right after Musk apologized for making major policy changes unilaterally and now said that Twitter would only ban accounts where their “*primary* purpose is promotion of competitors.”
Twitter announces it's banning the promotion of other social media sites. The platform said that users would no longer be allowed to link to their accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Post, or Nostr. (The controversial new policy was announced just as Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz’s account was restored after being suspended Saturday night.)
Friday, Dec. 16:
Musk restores the accounts of suspended reporters. Twitter reinstated the accounts of a number of journalists who had been "permanently suspended" after reporting on the @ElonJet saga. The move came after Musk ran a Twitter poll asking if the reporters should be allowed back on Twitter. A majority of those who responded, 59%, said the journalists' accounts should be unsuspended "now."
Thursday, Dec. 15:
Twitter suspends the accounts of more than a half dozen prominent journalists. Musk claimed that the reporters had posted his real-time location, though apparently, all they really did was tweet about the banning of @ElonJet, a Twitter account that tracked the billionaire's private jet. Those suspended included Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Ryan Mac of the New York Times, and Micah Lee of the Intercept, all of whom have reported on Musk’s takeover of the social media platform. (Twitter also suspended the account of Mastodon, a Twitter competitor that had tweeted a link to @ElonJet's presence on its own platform.)
Musk later appeared on a Twitter Space hosted by BuzzFeed News’ Katie Notopoulos, though he left quickly after being pressed on his decision to ban the reporters. Shortly after that, the entire Spaces function was no longer available.
Wednesday, Dec. 14:
A Twitter account tracking Musk’s private jet has been suspended. @ElonJet was set up by 20-year-old student Jack Sweeney to track the billionaire’s private jet. The account was suspended in the morning, though it did make a brief return before being banned again in the early evening. “I'm pretty surprised, especially after [Musk] put out a tweet saying he wouldn't do it,” Sweeney told BuzzFeed News. (Sweeney's personal account and his other jet-tracking accounts also ended up being suspended.) Musk explained his reasoning (now official Twitter policy) thusly:
Tuesday, Dec. 13:
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey speaks out. In a blog post, Dorsey made yet another mea culpa for failures at Twitter. This time he apologized for his role in controlling speech, saying that no media platform should have the power to take down material posted online and that moderation should be done by algorithm. Dorsey also wrote that Twitter staff acted in good faith and that public abuse on them should halt. He did not name Musk in his post.
Twitter reportedly has stopped paying rent. The New York Times reported that Musk is seeking to cut costs aggressively at Twitter, in part by not paying rent on its offices. According to the Times, leadership team has discussed denying severance payments to laid-off workers. It follows reports that the company had stopped paying key suppliers.
Twitter disbands its independent Trust and Safety Council. The group of independent experts advised the company on how to maintain a safe platform. Last Thursday, three of its members quit in protest of Musk’s actions as owner of the site, and this morning its remaining members received an email telling them that Twitter was closing down their committee. Anti-bullying expert Alex Holmes, who sat on the council, tweeted that the body’s treatment was “unfortunate and unacceptable.”
Monday, Dec. 12:
Yoel Roth, former head of trust and safety at Twitter, flees his home. The recently departed executive had faced extensive online harassment and threats of violence after Musk accused him of advocating the sexualization of children and released documents about his decisions at the company, CNN reported.
Twitter is auctioning off its office supplies. Following extensive layoffs, the company enlisted an auctioneer to sell off surplus office supplies. Lots on offer include a three-foot sculpture of the Twitter bird logo, stationary bikes, chairs, desks, computers, and kitchen gear.
Another installment of the “Twitter Files” is released. Again it dealt with the suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Journalist Bari Weiss reported that while many Twitter staff campaigned for the ban, some employees (including moderation experts) contested it. This release seemed to directly contradict a previous installment of the Twitter Files, which said that only one staffer raised an objection to Trump being banned.
Twitter Blue is relaunched. The long-delayed subscription service, which entitles users to a blue checkmark, costs $8 per month if purchased on the web and $11 per month if bought through Apple’s App Store.
Sunday, Dec. 11:
Musk is booed at a Dave Chapelle show. Musk was a surprise guest onstage at the Chase Center in San Francisco. Introduced as “the richest man in the world,” he was greeted by a smattering of cheers outweighed by booing. “You weren’t expecting this, were you?” Musk said to the comedian. The account that tweeted footage of the incident is no longer active on Twitter.
Musk calls for the prosecution of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Having shared an anti-lockdown meme earlier in the day, Musk stepped up his rhetoric and targeted the public health official personally. The tweet, which doubled as an anti-trans joke, was widely praised by conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Tweets might be increasing to 4,000 characters. Musk has long bemoaned the use of images to post long-form text. The large increase in text could fundamentally alter the user experience of a site where brevity is prized. However, it is not known when — or even if — Musk will implement this change, given the news was confirmed in a one-word response to a question from a site user.
Saturday, Dec. 10:
A “Twitter Files” report alleges that Twitter executives sought “justifications” to ban then-president Donald Trump after Jan. 6. Facing internal and external pressure to ban Trump, managers at the company allegedly decided to ban his account in an ad hoc decision that contravened Twitter’s established policies.
Musk smears a former Twitter executive in charge of moderation. Musk tweeted an excerpt from a university thesis by Yoel Roth, former head of trust and safety at Twitter, and accused him of advocating the sexualization of children. This is not new terrain for Musk. In 2019, he successfully defended himself in a defamation lawsuit brought by a British cave explorer whom Musk had called a “pedo guy” on Twitter.
Friday, Dec. 9:
More “Twitter Files” allege the company had secret meetings with the FBI. The third installment, by Matt Taibbi, claimed that in the months leading up to Jan. 6, Twitter executives met regularly with the FBI and other security agencies to discuss moderation. However, Taibbi admitted that he did not get any material detailing what contact Republicans or the Trump White House had with Twitter on the same matters.
The second installment of the “Twitter Files” alleges that Twitter covertly restricted controversial accounts. Written by New York Times reporter–turned–Substack writer Bari Weiss, the story alleged that conservative accounts were restricted from trending lists. Opinion to the release was divided: Fox News said that it showed evidence of the shadowbanning that conservatives had long claimed took place, while others, including former Twitter staff, said that the platform features Weiss reported had been public knowledge for years.
Elton John announces that he is leaving Twitter. The musician tweeted that changes to Twitter would lead to misinformation rising on the platform. Musk responded personally, saying that he loved John’s music, adding, “Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?” The original Rocket Man did not respond and has not tweeted since announcing he was quitting the platform.
Thursday, Dec. 8:
Three members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council resign in protest. The independent committee advises the firm on online safety and misinformation. The resigning members released a statement saying that Musk could not be trusted with users’ online safety and that a “Twitter ruled by diktat is not for us.”
Musk tweets a picture of his son’s Twitter staff badge. Musk shared a couple of photos of his 2-year-old son, X Æ A-12 Musk, who goes by X. X’s mother, musician Grimes, tweeted that her child was shadowing his dad in strategy meetings. “Baby joy is contagious for adults," she wrote.
Wednesday, Dec. 7:
Bedrooms have been set up inside Twitter headquarters. The BBC obtained photos of sleeping quarters inside the Twitter San Francisco office. The pictures show a double bed and couches made up as beds. The city of San Francisco is investigating since the building is not zoned for residential housing. Earlier this week, Twitter fired its janitors, who were striking over failure to bargain with their union.
Saturday, Dec. 3:
Musk says that Apple is back to “fully” advertising on Twitter. Musk earlier in the week had launched a broadside against Apple, accusing the tech giant of trying to remove Twitter from the App Store and of halting advertising on the platform. However, during a Twitter Spaces, which he participated in while aboard his private jet, he revealed that Apple had “fully resumed” advertising on the site.
Friday, Dec. 2:
The “Twitter Files” are released. Musk had promised that he would release internal documents showing Twitter had impeded free speech in the US. On Friday night, Matt Taibbi, a journalist who said he had agreed to unspecified terms to research and publish internal Twitter communications, tweeted a thread of staff discussions that led to the platform’s decision to temporarily suppress a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden and his laptop. Taibbi’s report was dismissed by many fellow journalists as underwhelming PR for the world's richest person.
Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin’s Twitter account is restored. Anglin, who founded the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site, had his account reactivated as part of Musk’s Twitter amnesty of the previously banned. That same day, the New York Times reported on research showing that hate speech and the use of slurs had risen exponentially under Musk’s ownership of Twitter.
Kanye West gets temporarily suspended for tweeting a swastika. After appearing on Alex Jones’s Infowars yesterday and saying “I love Hitler,” West tweeted an image of a swastika combined with a Star of David. In screenshots of texts between West and Musk, the latter said, “This is not love.” Just after midnight ET this morning, Musk tweeted about the suspension: "[West] again violated our rule against incitement to violence."
Thursday, Dec. 1:
Ex-Twitter employees demand their full severance. A lawyer for a group of recently laid-off Twitter workers sent a letter to Musk demanding that workers be paid their full contractual severance pay.
Wednesday, Nov. 30:
Musk meets with Tim Cook. Two days after going after Apple on Twitter, Musk met with the Apple CEO at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. Musk tweeted that the two had a “good conversation” in which Cook assured him that Twitter was not in danger of being removed from the App Store. Whether that will smooth over Musk’s objections to the App Store's 30% cut of subscription revenue from apps on the platform is yet to be seen.
Twitter has lifted its ban on COVID misinformation. Previously, tweets with COVID misinfo would be either labeled with a disclaimer or removed. Repeat offenders could be banned (that’s what happened to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal account, which was reinstated earlier this month). The change in policy was made quietly and was first spotted by users on Monday.
Monday, Nov. 28:
Musk goes after Apple. On Monday afternoon, Musk went on a tear of tweets criticizing Apple for dropping its ads with Twitter, saying it must be because Apple hates “free speech.” It seems the beef is over something more significant: the dominance of the App Store. According to Musk, Apple has made threats about removing Twitter from the App Store, which would be a huge problem for the social network. There’s some precedent: Apple dropped right-wing social media app Parler from the App Store after Jan. 6.
Another issue is that Apple currently takes 30% of subscription revenue from apps on its platform, which hurts Musk’s plans to grow Twitter with an $8-per-month plan. Musk isn’t alone in complaining about Apple’s market dominance and high fees: Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, has been battling Apple in court over this issue since 2019.
Why so many caffeine-free Diet Cokes? A truly terrifying tweet:
Sunday, Nov. 27:
Porn spam drowns out Chinese protest tweets. Protests in China over the zero-tolerance COVID policy have been going on for the past few days, but finding real information on Twitter about them has been made difficult due to possible government-connected spam bots spewing porn, the Washington Post reports. Twitter’s reduced staff means it is easier for a coordinated effort to drown out certain search terms.
Saturday, Nov. 26:
Twitter’s ad business is in trouble. Since Musk took over Twitter, his erratic behavior has spooked some big advertisers. Media Matters estimated that as many as 50 of the platform's top 100 advertisers — accounting for about $750 million of revenue for 2022 — are pausing spending. According to the Financial Times, deep cuts to the advertising team at Twitter have also caused problems for the brands that are still active, as they’ve lost their points of contact.
Friday, Nov. 25:
Musk announces more changes to the verification program. Beginning next Friday — tentatively — the site will assign different color-coded checks for verified individuals and institutions.
Thursday, Nov. 24:
Musk announces a “general amnesty” for suspended accounts. The move, which begins next week, came after another of Musk’s Twitter polls. One academic told the Washington Post that reversing suspensions en masse was “like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause."
Wednesday, Nov. 23:
The night before Thanksgiving, dozens of Twitter developers are fired. Around 50 engineers reportedly were laid off because their “code is not satisfactory.” More received performance warnings. This followed a demand that all Twitter’s coders send weekly updates to Musk. And then there was this:
Tuesday, Nov. 22:
Misogynist influencer Andrew Tate is formally back on Twitter. In his email newsletter, Tate — who was banned from Twitter in 2017 — announced his return to the platform. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News reported on another Twitter account that followers believed was run by Tate.
Monday, Nov. 21:
Twitter Blue has been delayed — again. Musk tweeted that the relaunch of subscription service Twitter Blue, which gives purchasers a coveted blue checkmark, would be pushed back “until there is high confidence of stopping impersonation.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter has been reinstated. The personal account of the Congress member from Georgia had been “permanently” suspended in January for violating the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation rules. (Her separate, official congressional account had remained active.)
Layoffs at Twitter somehow continue. According to Casey Newton of Platformer, this morning there were layoffs on the Twitter sales team. The team was caught off guard, as they'd had a meeting with Musk Sunday night with no mention of more cuts.
Sunday, Nov. 20:
Alex Jones isn’t coming back. When asked on Twitter if Jones would be next to have his account reinstated, Musk said no. He pointed out how Jones exploited the deaths of children for profit with his Sandy Hook hoaxing. Musk's first child died of sudden infant death syndrome in 2002.
Saturday, Nov. 19:
Trump’s account is reinstated. Musk ran a Twitter poll asking if Donald Trump’s account should be reinstated. “Yes” narrowly won out, so he reinstated it. This contradicts what Musk had previously said about big moderation decisions being made by a committee. As of the end of the weekend, Trump hadn’t tweeted.
Friday, Nov. 18:
Musk says negative tweets will be hidden. “New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk tweeted. He also allowed back onto Twitter three high-profile users who had previously been banned: Kathy Griffin (for impersonating Musk), Jordan Peterson, and the far-right satire site Babylon Bee. “Trump decision has not yet been made,” Musk tweeted.
Hundreds of Twitter employees resigned yesterday. Musk gave employees an ultimatum: agree to stay and work under a very different “hardcore” company culture, or resign with severance. The deadline was yesterday at 5 p.m. ET, and some 1,200 of the remaining 3,700 full-time employees took the buyout, according to the New York Times.
Zoë Schiffer of Platformer reported that this resulted in chaos: Twitter offices were locked for fear of employee sabotage, and there was confusion about who had clicked “yes” to stay on Musk’s email was still actually around or not. (Some people may be on parental leave, for example.)
According to the Verge, those resigning included people on key teams that keep the site up and running — an ominous sign that Twitter may start breaking or crashing very soon. Of course, in light of this news, Twitter users did what they always do: They memed through it.
Thursday, Nov. 17:
People with jokey Twitter names are stuck with them. BuzzFeed News reports on how people who changed their display names to things like “Spicy Chicken Sandwich” and “GIANT PENIS (parody)” are now stuck with them due to Musk’s tweaks to the verification system.
The old version of Twitter Blue is finally going away. Subscribers to the older version of Twitter Blue, which launched last spring at $2.99/month, were notified that old subscriptions will be canceled at the end of this month, at which time they can sign up for the new option.
The New York Times reports on SpaceX workers experiencing something familiar: retribution for criticizing Musk. Nine workers were fired over the summer in connection with an open letter condemning Musk’s “harmful Twitter behavior” — specifically his making light of an Insider report that he had paid to settle a sexual harassment claim against him in 2018. On Wednesday, charges were filed with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of eight of those workers.
Wednesday, Nov. 16:
Elon Musk issues an ultimatum to Twitter employees. In an email to the remaining staff, he said that people must be willing to work long hours and go “hardcore.” If not, they could choose to take severance pay and leave. In order to keep their job, employees had to click “yes” on a form that the email linked to.
Musk says he wants to find a CEO replacement soon. Musk was in Delaware Chancery Court on Wednesday for a hearing related to Tesla (a stockholder claimed his executive pay was “excessive.”) During his testimony, he said, “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time.”
Currently, Musk is CEO of three separate companies. As to whom he might appoint as head of Twitter, it’s pretty clear it won’t be former T-Mobile CEO John Legere: