Musk buyout part 2

Back in April I wrote an article on Medium about Elon Musk’s prospective buyout of Twitter.

On Monday Nov. 7th he plans to require Blue Check ‘verified’ accounts to pay him $8 for that privilege – with apparently no other identification verfication required. What could go wrong?

In lieu of this – let me publish this very rough roundup first because I expect the news cycle tomorrow (not to mention Election day Tuesday) to be eventful.

This post will serve as a collection of actions, observations and events of the past week or so. Because things moved quickly I will do my best to update with clearer actual receipts where I can.

Twitter purchase Friday Oct. 28th

Musk came in, demanded workers work around the clock to build him a Blue Check verification overhaul in about a week’s time or risk being fired.

Musk required developers *print* examples of their last 30 days or so of code – and he fired the devs that wrote *less code.*

Twitter workers were working 84 hour weeks, around the clock, sleeping in the office.

Layoffs

Then the layoffs came. Thursday Nov. 4th they were told the office would be shut and that they could expect emails by 9am about massive layoffs. And yet overnight many Twitter employees found themselves remote logged out of systems with no explanation.

Who was impacted?

Roughly half the Twitter staff. Musk:

  • Dissolved ERGs
  • Purged the privacy, security, and IT teams at Twitter
  • Purged the content moderation team
  • Dissolved the curation team
    • @rdassaly “These were the folks who tackled misinfo, contextualized conversations via the ‘Explore’ page, and helped make Twitter an unmatched source for breaking news. This will make Twitter noisier, more dangerous & less interesting”
  • Dissolved the ML Ethics, Transparency, & Accountability team
  • Dissolved the Accessibility Engineering team
  • Dissolved the Human rights team
    • The team that implemented the “UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, to protect those at-risk in global conflicts & crises including Ethiopia Afghanistan, and Ukraine, and to defend the needs of those particularly at risk of human rights abuse by virtue of their social media presence, such as journalists & human rights defenders.”
  • He fired Vijaya Gadde, the woman who made the call to suspend Donald Trump permanently
  • Dissolved the election information team 3 days before election

Lawsuits

Musk is now being sued by CA and NY b/c labor laws state that you should have given workers notification 60 days ahead of any mass layoffs.

Musk wanted to muzzle former workers from leaking anything about their layoffs but CA law voids any employment agreement or policy that bars workers from talking about unlawful acts or potentially unlawful acts. Govt Code 12964.5

Twitter loses its advertisers

Musk was mad about losing all his advertisers based on his purges and layoffs, but instead blamed “activists” and lied claiming “nothing has changed with content moderation” and claiming to have done ‘everthing’ to “appease the activists.” Meanwhile the real reason his advertisers fled is that no one wants the liability of having ads on a company that purged its content moderators so that mentions of the n-word went up 300% in a just a few days.

General Mills, CVS, United Airlines, GM, Audi, Mazda, Porsche, VW, American Express, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, Spotify, Ford, Dyson, Forbes, DIRECTV, Nintendo, Unilever, and PBS all suspended ads on Twitter.

Lies to appeal to his base

Then he further tried to appeal to the right wing base

Details emerge on the cost of Blue Check validation

He wanted his programmers to overhaul the Blue check validation over a weekend at the threat of losing their job. He first wanted to charge people $20/month for a Blue check but when Stephen King (one of the top accounts drawing millions of accounts to Twitter) balked on principal he countered with $8/month – a reply so absurd and insulting Stephen King did not respond.

Then he tried to spin it like he was a man of the people, on the side of peasants not lords.

Musk claiming to be on the side of the common man for lowering the price of Blue check validation – a service that used to be free.

The problem with selling Blue checks is that they won’t actually validate background fully they will just sell them so this will increase misinfo and fake accounts. This will likely result in an influx of criminals buying accounts with stolen credit cards to engage in spam and impersonation.

From this article from the New York Times


Who actually runs Twitter?

Elon Musk dismantled his board.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed is Twitter second largest stakeholder.

What about Jack Dorsey, or Blue Sky?

Many folks on Twitter are holding out for Jack Dorsey’s alleged new alternative to Twitter, called Blue Sky but the devil is in the details on Musk and Dorsey. This whole purchase and their shared geopolitics raise a lot of questions. Dave Troy claims No, Elon and Jack are not “competitors.” They’re collaborating.

How did Elon Musk actually buy Twitter? What happened?

@ithayla: “Elon did not ‘buy Twitter’ he impulsively made a ludicrously overpriced offer on Twitter signed a contract that put him on the hook for that exact amount tried to back out but was sued BY TWITTER to complete the buyout at the ridiculous price.”

@The_Law_Boy “lots of frustration being directed at elon but it’s also pretty weird that the twitter board just hot potato’d the company onto a dude who clearly did not actually want to own it.”

Tweet from @ithayla about the inter-relationship between Musk owning Twitter and Tesla and how Twitter performing badly will affect Tesla and vice versa.

@Nash076 “Musk put up a large chunk of his Tesla stock as collateral for Twitter. If he can’t repay the loans, then he would likely lose his controlling interest in Tesla to a consortium of banks.”

Is Elon Musk really just trying to make Twitter fail?

He says he plans to cut $1 Billion from Twitter infrastructure spending.

Actions like his make me wonder if he’s really just trying to drown Twitter in a bathtub.

Perhaps he made a devil’s bargain with the Saudi’s to throttle the website famous for empowering the Arab Spring, Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, MeToo movement. Perhaps in trying to bring back previously banned right-wing accounts, and campaigning on promises of ‘free speech’ he’s working for anti-democratic geopolitical forces that are paying him to tank the perceived revolutionary threat in Twitter. This seems probable noting how he purged the content moderation team and within a couple days instance of people posting the n-word rose nearly 500%.

He is certainly courting strange bedfollows. These are the members of Musk’s inner circle that some would say are helping to run Twitter. They include a GOP donor and a Russia advocate.

Mehdi Hassan @mehdirhasan from MSNBC also observes that “Elon Musk has now personally replied three times on Twitter in the past week to Tom Fitton, the climate change-denying, election-denying right winger who also advised Trump to hold onto government documents that weren’t his to hold onto.”

Where is Musk going?

Allegedly Elon Musk had ordered a $78 million Gulfstream G700. This is apprently the largest cabin of any business jet in the world with 5 living areas. For someone so insanely in debt – why is he buying one of the largest possible business jets? Is he going somewhere? It’s range says that it can fly directly from Austin to Hong Kong.

Mars?

Molly Jong-Fast tweets “I don’t think anyone is going to want to go with him to mars now”
John Christian tweets “Imagine living in a Mars colony with this management style”

With his management style I don’t think anyone would want Musk in charge of their oxygen supply on Mars.

Immediate aftermath – desperation and oops moments
After firing 1/2 the company Friday they realize they made some mistakes because some functionality no longer worked and they had fired certain institutional memory so they are trying to ask some workers to please come back.

Elon Musk tries to lure YouTube stars to Twitter with promises of unique monetezation features.

We will see what Monday and Tuesday bring