/Indeed, a Trainwreck

Indeed, a Trainwreck

Elon Musk’s acquisition of twitter- a trainwreck (subject to change)

On 28 October 2022 Elon Musk acquired Twitter, one of the largest and most prominent social media platforms. This move shocked a lot of people since Elon Musk was an ardent critic of Twitter. He claimed that the acquisition was not motivated by the greed for money but a genuine desire to help humanity and protect free speech. While he professed that he had great plans and aspirations for the social media platform, it became increasingly clear that Twitter is now more chaotic than ever. It has now, been over two months since Elon Musk became the ‘Chief Twit’ and it is still not clear what he wants to do with the company. Let us now look back at one of the most turbulent periods in Twitter history, the Elon Musk era.

The acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk was a highly divisive issue in the USA. Most people felt that this is the beginning of the end for the social media platform. As soon as he assumed his role as the head of twitter, he started laying off his employees. Since November he has laid off 3700 twitter employees, almost half of the Twitter workforce to curb losses. This move was admonished by many and was seen as messy and chaotic. Twitter actually had to call back a few of the sacked employees claiming that they got fired by mistake. Musk also drew criticism when he fired an engineer who argued with him publicly about twitter, via twitter.

One of the major concerns people had about Elon Musk’s ownership of twitter was that the platform would end up being a haven for hate speech. A mere twelve hours after the shift in ownership the use of the N-word in twitter rose by 500%. There was also an explosion in the number of tweets containing the word ‘Jew,’ most of these tweets are antisemitic. There was also a rise in misogynistic and transphobic language. This shows that those who spread hate speech felt not only empowered by Elon Musk’s acquisition, but also safe.

Another debacle that drew widespread criticism was the ‘Twitter Blue’. This was a new program where anyone can pay 8 dollars for a blue verified checkmark which was previously reserved only for celebrities and cooperations. This led to users buying the blue checkmarks and impersonating official accounts. This impersonation had real world consequences. For instance, a user impersonating the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly tweeted out that insulin products would be free which led a brief fall of the company’s stock. As the fake account infestation continued to grow, Elon Musk rolled back Twitter Blue to put a stop to the spread.

Elon Musk reinstated the ex-president of USA, Donald Trump who was banned from twitter for tweeting misleading claims about winning the 2020 US presidential elections. Trump was also guilty of using twitter to spur on his supporters when they attacked the Capitol building on January 6. Another one of Elon Musk’s controversial reinstatements is the rapper Kanye West who was banned in October for making antisemitic comments. Two weeks after the rapper was reinstated, he was kicked out by Musk for trying to incite violence against the Jewish community.

It is now more apparent than ever that Elon Musk’s run of twitter was woefully planned and riddled with controversies. Even though he considers himself a proponent for free speech, he fired employees who disagreed with him which led to a very distrustful and dangerous work environment. Elon Musk conducted a poll asking people to vote for him to stay as the chief of twitter or to leave, promising to honour the result. Twitter users made their displeasure towards him be known, by voting for a leadership to change. As of now it is unclear whether Elon Musk will keep his word and resign as the Head of Twitter. 

-Akhil Premkumar