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.
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.)
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: