If you’ve been anywhere near the internet in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard by now that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is now owner of the social media platform Twitter.
According to a New York Times article about the situation, the deal was finally closed after months of drama between Musk and the former heads of Twitter.
Originally, Musk made an unsolicited offer to Twitter for the amount of $44 billion. Although he attempted to back out, it was closed after a lawsuit from Twitter to uphold his end of the deal.
On Oct. 27, Musk tweeted a three-part statement about why he acquired Twitter in the first place. He explained, “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”
Musk continued by writing, “I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love.”
These statements are particularly humorous given how the quality of Twitter tanked almost immediately.
One of the first changes Musk made was to add a system where anyone could have a verified account for only $8 a month. In a Twitter thread on Nov. 1, Musk explained that the reasoning behind this decision was to “…give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators.”
Some Twitter users speculate that this decision was made solely to compensate for his overspending on the platform.
In the same thread, Musk provided a list of features that would come with that blue check mark. The list includes: priority in replies, mentions and search, the ability to post long video and audio and “half as many ads.”
Not only is this a very stupid incentive, but the system failed pretty early on.
Twitter users were able to use the paid verification system to impersonate companies such as Chiquita, Roblox, and, most notably, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.
Eli Lilly is a top seller of insulin, a product that was intended to be free by its inventor. A fake Eli Lilly account wrote in a now deleted tweet, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.”
This prompted the real Eli Lilly account to make a statement, tweeting “We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account.” Then their stocks tanked.
Personally, I don’t really have much sympathy for a billion dollar company who profits so heavily off of a life-saving medication, but the negative effects that this is having are clear.
Other controversial changes Musk made upon his entrance into the company include the firing (and rehiring) of Twitter employees and unbanning certain accounts in the name of free speech. This mass unbanning does include that of former President Donald Trump, who was banned after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Musk’s own Twitter page is filled with both professional statements and outright cringey memes about himself. That is, of course, when he’s not going on rants about free speech, which is really less about censorship and more about the ability to spread hate speech.
Clearly, having someone who does nothing but meme all day probably wasn’t the best idea. In fact, it is incredibly frustrating trying to decipher what is and is not a joke when he tweets.
A lot of the problems we see with unregulated social media is that, because anyone is able to use it, you have some people who use platforms to spread ignorance, hate and bigotry.
If Twitter wasn’t already like this, I fear that with Musk in charge, it will become much worse.
That is, of course, if Musk’s poor leadership doesn’t bring about Twitter’s downfall.