The Mindset Behind Invading Twitter

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“The Bird is Freed” is how Elon Musk finally announced his takeover of the world’s biggest microblogging service platform following a sensational $44 billion deal and a long period of public and legal squabble. The chain of controversies, however, is far from seeing an end. But if there was one thing the world knew when Musk showed interest in owning Twitter was that it was going to get more entertaining and dramatic for everyone.

So, Twitter is now officially owned by the world’s richest man. In just about a week and a half’s time, Musk has made it perfectly clear to those who had doubts that he is not in the least close to the traditional corporate businessman. This, though, is no surprise for anyone who has followed Musk’s journey to the top so far. The unconventional front foot player that Musk is, the man started the Twitter Takeover drama series by sacking the company CEO.

Within hours of confirming the takeover via a Tweet, Musk fired the Chief Executive Officer Parag Agarwal, the Chief of Policy, Legal, Trust & Safety Vijaya Gadde, and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal. Over the next couple of days, tech news headlines have been full of stories related to mass layoffs, Musk’s list of radical plans for the platform, and a number of changes users should expect starting with an $8 bill for blue tick verification. To say such things make a segment of users uncomfortable would be to put it lightly. Like everything else in the world right now, Musk’s takeover of one of the world’s most popular social media platforms has been an equally polarising discussion topic.

But before we get into the controversies, conspiracy theories, and polarising opinions, let’s take a quick look at what has happened since the takeover was confirmed by the man himself.

Mass Layoffs

Only if the immediate dismissal of the CEO and other senior officials were taken as a hint for what was coming next. The next morning, since the takeover of Twitter news was announced, reports of mass layoffs across departments kept on surfacing. Many employees woke up to emails declaring their dismissal, while others weren’t even fortunate enough to receive formal communication and only realised they had no jobs when their access to office systems and emails was denied.

The Mindset Behind Invading Twitter

According to a report published in one of the largest New York newspapers, Elon Musk had ordered job cuts across the platform as early as he walked inside the office premise. The report also claims that he had informed the company investors that he would like to take the social media company private. His other plans regarding cutting back did not only include cutting down on its workforce but also rolling back content moderation policies along with finding new revenue streams for the microblogging platform.

Some of the immediate decisions taken by the Tesla founder were enough to understand that he was not only saying it but actually actively seeking major Twitter platform changes that could become the talk of the town.

Blue Tick Verification Charges

The biggest change announced after the takeover was finally finalised was the process of how the platform verifies users and tags the verified Twitter accounts with a Blue Tick. Musk loves interacting on Twitter and most of these revelations have always been happening during his tweet exchanges with random people. In one such reply to one of the tweets, Musk tweeted, “The whole verification process is being revamped right now.”

 As per the details revealed since then, Twitter is planning to start charging users for the much-aspired Blue Tick on the platform. The Blue Tick is tagged on every verified Twitter account which means that the identity of the users has been verified by the company. The platform also has a paid subscription thing going on for some time, Twitter Blue, a feature not currently available in India.

According to the sources and many speculators on the platform itself, Twitter Blue would soon start costing a monthly charge of $4.99, which in return will make sure the user keeps the ‘verified’ Twitter blue badge on their Twitter handles. It must be noted that no official word has come out from the horse’s mouth on this yet.  Another report doing rounds in the international press claims, the platform might be considering charging a high fee, as high as $19.99 for Twitter Blue.  This if true would make keeping the verified badge a very expensive endeavour indeed. What is to be noted is that all of this again is just moments of speculation.

Musk Offering to Bring Back “Vine”

No matter what the day is, shenanigans on Twitter are always abundant. Musk especially appears to be the guy who is always enthusiastic about one thing or the other. Always full of ideas! On October 31, Musk tweeted a poll for his 110 million Twitter followers and others to participate. The tweet read, “Bring back Vine?”

The Mindset Behind Invading Twitter

For anyone who doesn’t know or is not familiar with what the Vine Video App is – Vine used to be this short video platform back in the day. It was way more popular before other short video platforms like Intsa Reels, YouTube Shorts or, the mother of all, Tiktok appeared on the scene. Twitter acquired the platform in which users used to share short video cuts that replayed on a loop. It was funny, addictive and an instant hit in the community of young internet users. Twitter, however, shut down the platform in 2016 after trying really hard to sell it off to some other company. Vine was initially launched in 2013. The poll Musk posted on his Twitter handle showed favourable results after 4,920,155 users registered their vote with 69.6% answering with “Yes” to the question asked about the Vine Video App relaunch.

Musk – The Controversy King and “Free Speech Absolutist”

Musk’s mindset behind invading Twitter could have been easily gauged by those who were paying attention. Early this year, Musk in what many would call his fun moments on Twitter had been floating the idea of creating an alternative to Twitter. He said to be thinking about this after giving a “serious thought” on the extent to which the microblogging platform was “undermining democracy.” Musk has always been vocal about questioning Twitter’s commitment to free speech by accusing the platform of taking sides.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder had often made it abundantly clear that he is a “free-speech absolutist.” Musk has also been vocally against any censorship that goes beyond the law of the land. Back in April, Musk tweeted, “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.” He further added, By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

Nonetheless, Musk’s idea of free speech has always been under scrutiny by those who also have been questioning the man’s intentions from the beginning. What Musk really means when he mentions free speech and what exactly he wants to convey when he says Twitter as a platform has never been committed to it? There is a section of Twitter users or otherwise as well who have been apprehensive about Musk’s vested interests in the platform. Many have claimed it all to be just a political trumpet through which political agenda will be played.

Musk, however, has time again tried to make his position clear and failed to do so at the same time. Just after completing the purchase deal in April and finally owning the 9.2 per cent stake which makes him the highest biggest shareholder in the company, Musk tried to explain again. He tweeted right after the deal, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Elon Musk said in a statement announcing the deal. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

Speculations about the Twitter Future

As for the leadership, many reports suggest that Musk has internally taken over the role of the company CEO after sacking Agarwal within hours of the takeover. Musk’s Twitter bio also doesn’t confuse much since he updated it to “Chief Twit” right after confirming the takeover on the platform itself.

The future of Twitter, similar to every relevant social media platform that there is, will be all about content moderation and the exact extent of it. Twitter, amid every other hullabaloo that surrounds it, says that it wishes to be just in its actions and advocacy of free speech (whatever that means as per the company and the man at its helm). Musk reiterated this on October 29 when tweeted, “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”

Recommended Reads:

  1. Elon Musk Might Increase Twitter’s Character Limit
  2. Elon Musk Hints At Twitter Crossing A Billion Users Within 12 to 18 Months
  3. Twitter Blue Will Relaunch With Gold, Grey, Blue Checkmarks

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