The Information previously reported that a further exodus was expected this week after some employees' stock awards, arranged under the previous management, were due to vest on February 1st.
Elon Musk has yet to announce any details of a promised stock awards scheme under his ownership.
"Elon Musk sent an email to Twitter employees telling them to write a one pager on what they accomplished in January, what they plan to accomplish in February, and "any ideas you have for improving Twitter." Twitter has also implemented another change freeze."In the past, change freezes occurred around layoffs, out of a fear that those who were let go would abuse their access to add malicious code to the platform.
"A paid basic tier will be available instead," they tweeted. There are so far no details on the cost or contents of the new API, though Elon Musk tweeted “Just ~$100/month for API access with ID verification will clean things up greatly.”
According to The Verge, "The news potentially affects a lot of Twitter services, and one of them is bots — not the spammer armies that new owner Elon Musk claims he’s been purging but the myriad automated accounts posting cute animals, fictional character quotes, and accessibility aids through Twitter’s API... Dedicated coders might still get around Twitter’s API to post automated tweets, and malicious spammers almost certainly will. But for everyone else, Twitter’s decision discourages playing with the service."
The piece describes the dissolution of a group that previously provided a check on executive overreach, also confirms that the account run by antifascist activist Chad Loder, which was banned from the platform in November, was suspended by the CEO himself.
"In Twitter’s internal system, a note read, 'Suspension: direct request from Elon Musk,' according to a screenshot viewed by Bloomberg."
The article also quotes a former Twitter executive saying
“Twitter’s policies and practices in the trust and safety space were built around defending the rights of users around the world, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized communities... Since the acquisition, the company’s only actions have been to silence critics of Elon, to expose journalists and others to harm, and to violate basic ethical standards and privacy laws.”
Elon Musk previously described himself as a "free speech absolutist", saying that he would only follow government censorship orders "at gunpoint."
When Musk was asked about the move on Twitter, he responded, "First I’ve heard. It is not possible for me to fix every aspect of Twitter worldwide overnight, while still running Tesla and SpaceX, among other things."
Five hours later, links to the documentary on Twitter are reportedly still blocked in India.
According to the SMI data, ad spending on Twitter in November fell 55% from last year despite these months traditionally being a time of higher ad spending as brands promote their products during the holiday season.
These are among the latest of more than 30,000 banned accounts that have been restored since Musk took over the platform, including several prominent figures on the extreme right.
UPDATE: After inevitably re-stating praise for Adolf Hitler, Fuentes was banned again.
Twitter is already being sued over unpaid rent over a San Francisco office it gained through an acquisition and its main Seattle office.
In related news, the San Francisco Chroncile reported today that Twitter had also failed to pay almost $6.8 million in December and January rent for its main headquarters.
The landlord said it drew from most of Twitter’s letter of credit security deposit of $3.6 million to satisfy the December rent payment, but Twitter still owes $3.1 million in unpaid rent from January.
This was after the platform had tweeted, without evidence, that the abrupt change was because "long-standing API rules" had been violated.
The CEO of Tapbots, which created Tweetbot, sarcastically responded, "I didn’t realize long standing actually means a couple hours ago."
He apparently said that Twitter's daily revenue has fallen by 40% year on year, and that more than 500 of their top advertisers have paused their spending since Elon Musk took over the platform.
This was followed up today with a presentation by Twitter ad executive Chris Riedy telling the company that "Twitter brought in $1.025 billion in revenue, which was just 72% of the company's internal goal for the quarter... Before Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, the company's revenue was 98% of its initial projections."
Muhammad Jalal, who previously identified as a Taliban official, praised the new owner of Twitter on Monday, declaring that Elon Musk was "making Twitter great again".
If Twitter were to default on its debt, it could declare bankruptcy, however the newspaper says that this probably won't happen.
Bankers and experts observing the deal said Musk was unlikely to file for bankruptcy, which would risk him losing control of the business.
Instead, his options include cutting a new deal with lenders, such as a debt-for-equity exchange at a discount to the debt’s face value, or finding alternative ways to fund its interest payments as he plays for time to turn around the business. “It is more likely [Musk] would ask Twitter’s creditors for a forbearance and try and work something out,” said one restructuring banker.
Technology equity analyst Dan Ives at Wedbush Securities said that Twitter was worth closer to $15bn today than the $44bn Musk paid for it.
Nobody at Twitter has officially acknowledged the move, but The Information reported that the move was intentional.
[A] senior software engineer wrote Thursday night that “Third-party app suspensions are intentional,” in an internal Twitter command center Slack channel, used by employees to handle outages and interruptions to Twitter’s services.Third-party apps generally do not bring in ad revenue for the platform. Three days later, no official announcement has been made about the sudden change.
The reaction to this has been universally negative. The founder of Twitterific, Craig Hockenberry, wrote:
"What bothers me about Twitterrific’s final day is that it was not dignified. There was no advance notice for its creators, customers just got a weird error, and no one is explaining what’s going on. We had no chance to thank customers who have been with us for over a decade. Instead, it’s just another scene in their ongoing shit show. But I guess that’s what you should expect from a shitty person."
Clients of WPP-owned GroupM, the world’s largest ad-buying firm, have cut their spending on Twitter by between 40% and 50% since Elon Musk took control of the company in late October, according to people familiar with the matter...
[A]d executives meeting with Twitter ad sales representatives were told they had to become comfortable with Musk’s unpredictability and uncertainty.
The company's priorities are reportedly "urgent product decision matters, engineering progress, and legal, finance and HR."
Musk apparently added in his email, “We are going to agonize until we achieve as close to the perfect product as possible.”
"Musk has openly encouraged attacks on mainstream science with his own posts, has brought back previously banned anti-science-promoting accounts and has altered the site algorithm in a way that greatly limits the reach of leading climate communicators," said Michael Mann, director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability & the Media at the University of Pennsylvania.
Tweets using terms associated with climate denial such as “climate fraud,” “climate hoax” and “climate scam” more than tripled in 2022, up 300% from 2021, according to Advance Democracy, a research organization that studies misinformation.
Laid-off staff in the UK are suing Twitter over "unlawful, unfair and completely unacceptable treatment”
Separately on Monday evening, Mike Clancy, general secretary for the UK trade union Prospect, wrote to Twitter raising the same concerns as Winckworth and urged the platform to “pause the redundancy process” and meet the union, according to a copy of the letter seen by the FT.
Metro officials said they weren’t told why the social media company suspended the account. Before the suspension, Metro officials said, the account had not posted anything other than standard content, which includes delay and detour updates, customer-service-related tips, and replies to customer complaints or concerns.
Watkins plays a major role in the QAnon conspiracy theory, and is thought by many to be one of the authors of Q's posts.
For many years, he ran 8kun, formerly known as 8chan – a message board frequented by white supremacists, child pornographers, and Neo Nazis.
The Awards appear to work in a very similar manner to Reddit Awards, and will cost users money to give out.
Awards listed include "Bullseye" and "Hilarious", featuring two of Elon Musk's most used emojis. As with Reddit, the top award is Gold, which according to the leaked screenshot will cost 5000 times a "Mind Blown" award.
In November, Elon Musk said that Twitter was losing $4 million a day.
Among those fired in November were "eight people, based in São Paulo, who moderated content on the platform in order to catch posts that broke its rules against incitement to violence and misinformation."
The article goes on to describe how misinformation on social media platforms helped incite Sunday's riots.
Bolsonaro had described Musk's purchase of the platform as "a breath of hope", and his own meeting with the Twitter CEO as "the start of a relationship which I’m sure will soon end in marriage."
Once they found the email, many workers found the enclosed terms unacceptable.
Lisa Bloom, the head of a legal firm suing Twitter on behalf of many of its laid-off workers, tweeted a thread outlining the agreement, saying "Every worker can decide what's best for them, but many are rejecting these obnoxious terms."
A dozen more cuts were made in Twitter's Dublin and Singapore office, including head of site integrity for Twitter’s Asia-Pacific region and Twitter’s senior director of revenue policy.
According to the article, "workers on teams handling the social network’s misinformation policy, global appeals and state media on the platform were also eliminated."
The Associated Press reports that Flynn's account was suspended for dangerous misinformation two days after the murderous attack on the capitol, as he pressed President Trump to impose martial law following the election.
In recent months, Flynn has been building a far-right movement centered around Christian nationalism.
The historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who wrote the book Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, has called Flynn "one of the most dangerous individuals in America today."
Nearly a day after the article was published, and NBC had shared their findings with Twitter, the hashtags remained active on the platform.
[A]t least dozens of accounts have continued to post hundreds of tweets in aggregate using terms, abbreviations and hashtags indicating the sale of what Twitter calls child sexual exploitation material, according to a count of just a single day’s tweets. The signs and signals are well known among experts and law enforcement agencies that work to stop the spread of such material.
Musk laid off roughly 50% of Twitter’s more than 7,000 employees on Nov. 4, just a week after taking control of the company. Almost 1,000 of those who were terminated lived in California, according to documents filed with the state. Those workers were required under state and federal law to keep receiving regular paychecks over the past two months.
But that 60-day period ended on Wednesday, the official termination date for California employees. Employees have still not heard any details about additional severance, or continuation of health coverage, known as COBRA, according to three laid-off workers.
As before, Twitter allowed the account to be verified without any serious identity checks.
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter users face a greater risk of seeing something fake and thinking it is real. I don’t know if Twitter is going to die any time soon, but I’m spending less time on a service I can’t trust.
[This leak] poses threats of exposure, arrest or violence against people who used Twitter to criticize governments or powerful individuals, and it could open up others to extortion, security experts said.
This follows the global outage reported five days ago.
The article's author Zachariah Kelly reported that "During the time of writing this article, I’ve been able to regain some access to Twitter’s features, however, this has been sporadic. Access to the inbox, notifications and search feature is limited at best and completely unusable at worst at the moment. It appears that the website is recovering, but I’m still getting lots of error messages."
Twitter's previous rules (which are still on their website at the time of writing) state that they prohibited political ads because they believed that "political message reach should be earned, not bought."
Awareness campaigns for causes were allowed but ads were prohibited if their primary goal was "driving political, judicial, legislative, or regulatory outcomes." They also did not allow targeted political or cause-related advertising.
It is unclear how Twitter will respond to causes related to political hoaxes such as Pizzagate or QAnon. "We'll share more details as this work progresses," added the Twitter Safety account, cryptically.
Behnam Rezaei joined the platform 5 1/2 years ago, and was appointed head of product engineering in November.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he ran "ML Infra, Backend Infra/Experimentation, Media Infra, Mobile Foundation" and oversaw the following products: "Monetization (Performance/Brand Advertising, None Ad Revenue/Products), Core Product (Feed, Search, Profile, Conversations, DM), Growth, Trust and Safety Engineering."
Not all former tweeps are shedding a tear at his departure. Sasha Soloman, who was fired from Twitter after criticizing Elon Musk on the platform, responded to the news by writing "oh no the guy that lied to our faces in every all-hands meeting after the takeover."
Over the same period, the S&P 500, which tracks the stock performance of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States, rose from 3,871.98 to 4,080.11.
Columbia Reit, which owns the building that houses
Correction: Our thanks to the reader who pointed out that the lawsuit is in fact from the landlord of 650 California St, the office of a company called CrossInstall, Inc that Twitter acquired in 2020.
The leak, which a hacker claims occurred before Elon Musk took control of the company, apparently includes the private information of more than 400 million Twitter users, including various political leaders and celebrities.
The alleged hacker is attempting to sell the data for $200,000, either to Twitter or to anyone else willing to pay.
In November, the Irish DPC fined Facebook parent company Meta $276 million for a data breach of a similar scale.
Having laid off or fired nearly 75 percent of the company, delayed or refused to pay legally binding agreements, and fired janitors, the newspaper reports that "bathrooms have grown dirty... and some workers have resorted to bringing their own rolls of toilet paper from home."
A three-day orientation has been cut to 90 minutes, the system that helps Twitter prioritize illegal or abusive content went down, and there was a widespread service interruption.
Nearly eight weeks after Elon Musk said that the company was "done with layoffs", more layoffs are expected in the new year.
The outage affected users around the globe and lasted several hours. Features including notifications, the login page, and the mobile app were returning errors for many users.
When someone tried to report this to Elon Musk on the platform, he responded "Works for me."
"I was excited that Elon Musk was coming", said the engineer who goes by the name Ihara in the article. The story was published in Japanese on December 7th, then translated into English today.
Ihara had opted to stay with the company, but was laid off the day before Thanksgiving.
"It was like a (Korean drama) ‘Squid Game’ where I didn’t know the rules.”
“Which should come first, limiting functions to the minimum so that they can be run by fewer people, or having the existing system become dysfunctional? It’s not something that will break in a day or two. But you will see how things will work out in the coming months”
New head of Trust and Safety at Twitter, Ella Irwin, told the news agency that they had been removed because those at the platform "just want to make sure they are functioning properly and continue to be relevant."
The sources with knowledge of Musk's decision to order the removal of the feature declined to be named because they feared retaliation. One of them said millions of people had encountered #ThereIsHelp messages.Despite Irwin claiming that it wouldn't return until next week, the feature was apparently restored today.
In the original article, Irwin confirmed the feature had been removed. Today, Elon Musk lied about that having occurred.
He has been holed up in a 10th-floor conference area with a staging room for visitors — where they often remain for more than an hour before being called in. They are instructed not to speak until Musk does. And when they do finally meet with him, he’s sometimes watching YouTube videos.
...When one executive met with Musk and voiced concerns about the Federal Trade Commission’s consent decree, Musk assured that person there was nothing to worry about. He said Tesla had plenty of experience on privacy matters, and pointed to his deep knowledge and awareness of the constraints Twitter was under.
Minutes after the meeting concluded, a subordinate of Musk emailed: Would the executive be willing to send over a copy of the consent decree they had just discussed?
"We built this super quickly. I did the iOS work in just 2 days" tweeted Twitter developer Leah Culver, before adding an apology for shipping the feature without translations due to lack of time/testing.
Elon Musk then tweeted that the setting had to be removable and that the designs needed "several major UI improvements."
In response, one of Twitter's former site reliability engineers tweeted "0% chance Elon pulls off decommissioning both SMF and ATL by end of Q1. PDX doesn’t even have a hadoop cluster right now. It also means they have to break all their leases. It also means PDX will be a single point of failure. But what do I know, I’m just a guy who turned up PDX."
Meanwhile, Elon Musk said that he had "disconnected one of the more sensitive server racks."
Their work, which confirmed earlier reporting by Rolling Stone, was verified and reported on by Bloomberg.
Their executive director, Nicole Gill, told Bloomberg, "Not only are bots flourishing under Musk, it’s now easier than ever to use bots to manipulate Twitter polls… Twitter is unsafe and open to manipulation by bad actors — including foreign governments."
Musk has so far used Twitter polls as a pretense to make decisions to return Donald Trump to the platform, to claim that the Amerian public are against the latest government spending bill, and to decide important product decisions by the safety team.
Among other tasks, this is the team that works to develop policies around online safety, child sexual abuse material, supports global activists, and works to ensure that the platform is in compliance with its various regulatory requirements.
Musk said that "we'll have to do a total rewrite of the whole thing" in order to make it workable, adding "You could amend the crazy stack that exists or rewrite it."
Developer Ian Brown, who worked at Twitter for more than eight years until October 2021, asked Musk, "What's so crazy about it versus every other large scale system on the planet?"
"You're a jackass," replied Musk. He did not go into details about why the stack needed to be rewritten, moving on to demonstrate a lack of understanding about how ads work on the platform.
Former Twitter VP of Product Jason Goldman tweeted "Listening to this Twitter Spaces where Elon is talking about the tech stack and it's clear that no one has been in a position to actually ask him a follow up question in years. He thinks he knows everything and simply will not abide someone contradicting that notion."
Elon casts doubt on poll results saying he should step down, then says he will continue to run "the software and servers" under new leader
Recode reports that
Rather than commenting on the results of the poll in the hours after it concluded, Musk took to Twitter on Monday morning and encouraged questions about whether the results were legitimate. He engaged in a Twitter thread by a user suggesting that a “deep state” bot army was rigging the poll against him. Musk replied to another user in the same thread who suggested that only paid subscribers to Twitter Blue should be able to vote in polls. He said, “Twitter will make that change.”CNBC reported that "Musk’s search for a new CEO has been ongoing and began before the Twitter poll was made."
Two days after the poll, Musk tweeted that "I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams."
No timeline has been set for this change.
Incident that Elon Musk said led to his banning @ElonJet and several journalists was not related to ElonJet or even him
The article was co-written by the journalist Taylor Lorenz, who was temporarily banned from Twitter after she emailed Musk asking him if he had any comment for the piece.
One of his supporters tweeted that "he already has the new CEO picked out", to which Musk replied "No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor."
It is worth noting again that Twitter polls have been described by former Twitter employees as "bot-ridden bullshit."
"At both the Tweet level and the account level, we will remove any free promotion of prohibited 3rd-party social media platforms, such as linking out (i.e. using URLs) to any of the below platforms on Twitter, or providing your handle without a URL", stated the new policy.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey responded to this by asking "Why?". He received no reply.
The new rule led to many prominent accounts being suspended, including that of Paul Graham, the founder of Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator and a longtime defender of Elon Musk, who had responded to the new rule by tweeting "This is the last straw. I give up. You can find a link to my new Mastodon profile on my site."
The policy, which almost certainly would violate the EU's Digital Markets Act that comes into force next year, was the latest in a series of changes made by the former "free speech champion" Elon Musk, who tweeted in April that "the extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all."
Within a few hours, Musk was tweeting at the CEO of cloud storage company Box, who had criticized the rule, asking "What do you think should be the policy?"
Soon afterwards, the policy was rescinded and removed from Twitter's webpage. Musk tweeted that "Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again."
Accounts banned for violating this short-term policy seemed to have been restored, and the company account Twitter Safety soon after started running a poll asking if there should be a policy against the creation of accounts for advertising other platforms.
As has been previously noted, polls on Twitter are, according to the former Head of Trust and Safety, "more prone to [bot] manipulation than almost anything else" on the platform.
The scale of the layoffs is unclear, but some engineers took to Twitter yesterday to say they were told over email their contribution was no longer required. The latest cuts come after The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Musk had laid off Nelson Abramson, Twitter’s head of infrastructure, among a handful of other high-ranking employees at the company.
As the journalists pressed him on his decision to ban them, he abruptly left the Space, and soon afterwards the entire Spaces feature was pulled from the platform to fix "a Legacy bug"
The Spaces feature returned the following day.
If enacted, this would allow bad actors who pay for Twitter Blue to group together and downvote accounts that they don’t like, affecting everyone's ability to see tweets from those accounts. This is an activity known as “brigading”, and is banned from most social media platforms.
Alex Stamos, former head of security at Facebook, described it as “The speedrun through "every trust and safety problem others have experienced over the last decade but that I don't know anything about" continues. Up next, adversarial reporting.”
Two hours later, Musk tweeted a refinement to the policy saying that “all user actions” will factor into a model for account credibility, something he has never mentioned in the past.
There is no evidence that any of the journalists banned – who included employees of CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Intercept, Mashable, Business Insider, Voice of America and several freelance journalists – had done this.
Protest messages were posted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN as well as the German Foreign Office, the head of communications for the United Nations, and the French Minister of Industry.
The Washington Post reported that new Head of Trust and Safety Ella Irwin had enacted the suspensions on Elon Musk's orders.
The decision also drew fire from an unexpected source: Bari Weiss, who wrote two of the Twitter Files, criticized the decision, drawing fire from Musk, who later stopped following her account.
The journalists received an email notification from Twitter that said that they were permanently suspended from the platform, but following the outcry, Elon Musk ran a poll, then another one asking when he should allow the journalists to return to Twitter.
On both polls, the option labeled "Now" was the winner. Two days later, he tweeted "The people have spoken. Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now."
As of Friday, the total number of sign ups was 2,215.
"15 of the top 20 by follower count are porn. The top non-porn personal accounts are the UKIP Gamergate guy and a Bolsonaro supporter who recently got Elon Musk’s attention with claims of election fraud," he tweeted, adding later that "my guess is that the total number is more like 10-15k."
15,000 subscriptions would bring about $120,000 in revenue.
The Wall Street Journal estimates that Twitter's interest payments on its debts accrued as part of the acquisition total more than $1bn per year.
This is just the latest in several lawsuits and accusations about unpaid bills since Elon Musk took charge of the company.
On October 20th, Elon Musk said on a Tesla earnings call that he was "obviously overpaying" for the platform at that price.
"Asking investors to pay full price for an asset whose value is rapidly collapsing is going to be a tough sell," wrote Liz Hoffman.
In a statement on their website referring directly to tweets by Elon Musk, Dean Sandro Galea wrote "As an academic community, we are committed to a vision of inclusive debate and free and open inquiry. However, we do not in our community tolerate speech that is demeaning and non-rebuttable, dangerous, or factually false."
There are several pending lawsuits from workers fired by Twitter, including for failing to give the legal minimum notice and for gender discrimination.
According to the news site Hessenschau, a regional court in Frankfurt ruled that if a false or defamatory tweet about someone breaks German law, has been shared more than ten times, and is reported to Twitter, the platform has to remove it within 24 hours and prevent it from being reposted, or face a fine of 250,000 euros per case.
Following mass firings from their overseas offices and Twitter leadership's apparent focus on pending legal challenges in the United States, it's unclear if the company intends to appeal the decision.
The accounts, including @ElonJet, had shared publicly available flight information since 2020; Musk also said that would take legal action against the college student who ran the accounts.
The platform hastily changed its safety rules to accommodate the bans, adding new and vague rules around location sharing and "media." It now allows the sharing of some location information after "a reasonable time has elapsed", without giving any indication of what any of that means.
These rules came into effect the day after it was reported that Twitter is considering forcing users to share their location with the platform.
Ryan Mac of the New York Times tweeted that Musk is "changing Twitter's rules as he goes."
Many Twitter users are confused about the new rules and how they are intended to be applied. So far, no clarifications have been forthcoming.
Update: This evening, Elon Musk tweeted a short video of someone in a car who he says is a person who jumped on the hood of his car (he wasn't there). Musk shared film of the person without permission and also potentially doxxed him by sharing his license plate – both violations of the policy he just introduced.
Sources told her that his tweet was pasted into the company Slack, leading to "quick changes" being made the following evening. Ads on Twitter are apparently now being cut in height by a half, and appearing only every six tweets, instead of allowing an algorithmic system to determine their frequency for each user.
Twitter is considering forcing users to share their location and give advertisers their 2FA phone number
They are also considering preventing all users from opting out of personalized ads.
As Platformer points out, some of those on Twitter including human rights activists, dissidents, and journalists, not to mention other privacy-minded people, none of whom may trust Twitter with their locations nor choose to allow data brokers to purchase their private information.
Ironically, Twitter wouldn't be allowed to offer an opt out from this heavy-handed surveillance for Twitter Blue subscribers on iPhones because of Apple's rules, which don't allow apps to force users to choose between payment and ad tracking.
GitHub is where some of the code is stored that powers the platform. Schiffer tweeted that "hundreds of former employees" still have access to the repositories, including the ability to change and delete code, causing a major security risk for the platform.
The article says that Twitter hasn't paid rent on any of its offices for several weeks, has outstanding unpaid travel bills, and is considering forgoing severance that it already promised to ex-employees, forcing them to sue to get their money.
Musk has also fired several of the platform's legal team, leading to him bringing in lawyers from his other companies including half a dozen from SpaceX.
This means that no new Ukrainian accounts can be set up using a Ukrainian phone number, and existing ones no longer have two-factor protection against hackers.
Update: People are reporting that Twitter fixed this last night.
The author of the report, Jasmine Enberg, said "There won’t be one catastrophic event that ends Twitter. Instead, users will start to leave the platform next year as they grow frustrated with technical issues and the proliferation of hateful or other unsavory content. Twitter’s skeleton staff, working around the clock, won’t be able to counteract the platform’s infrastructure and content moderation problems."
Platformer this evening reported that the rollout of this hastily fulfilled order had major unintended consequences, and reinforced the idea that Elon Musk's Twitter is above all US-centered.
"Twitter blocked traffic from roughly 30 mobile carriers around the world, effectively cutting off access to hundreds of thousands of accounts, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region, including vast swaths of Russia, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia... [R]ather than work to remove individual offenders, the company identified mobile networks associated with large spam networks in specific countries, and blocked users who relied on those networks from receiving SMS messages from Twitter, impacting people with two-factor authentication. Then it blocked traffic from those carriers completely.According to Platformer, it then lied to users about the cause of the disruption.
From 5:35 AM to 6:45 AM PT on Sunday, Twitter shut down access to the primary telecom providers in India and Russia, as well as the second biggest telecom company in Indonesia.
The council was founded in 2016 to advise the platform on key global safety issues including human rights, harassment, and suicide prevention. Three members publicly quit last week because "a Twitter ruled by diktat is not a place for us."
Former council members received an unsigned email that said "we will continue to welcome your ideas going forward," according to Platformer.
The internet archive holds a copy of the detailed description of the Council's role that used to reside on the Twitter website.
"Nothing to see here," states the page today.
Worryingly, even Twitter’s aggressive incentives might not be helping. Similarweb’s latest data show that for the first few days of December, the platform’s ad manager domain traffic trends have continued to decline with traffic volume now so low it doesn’t even meet the firm’s threshold necessary to track and measure it.
That evening, Musk was loudly booed when he appeared on stage at a Dave Chappelle concert, after which he tweeted that "The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters" then tweeting that it "must be done for the future of civilization".
According to the article, one of the cleaners "was told by someone from Mr Musk's team that his job would be obsolete soon anyway because robots would eventually replace human cleaners."
As The Twitter Files flop, Elon Musk endangers former Head of Trust & Safety through false accusations
The scandals hyped by Elon Musk before release have yet to materialize. Instead, this series has so far explained how the Twitter team struggled to deal with the unprecedented situation of a sitting president and his followers using their platform to undermine democratic rule, with little to no evidence of scandal or bias.
Part three of the series was, like the first, written by Matt Taibbi, while part four was by Michael Shellenberger, author of the book "San Fran-sicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities". A fifth part, by Bari Weiss again, was published today.
These threads, called "ridiculous" by Techdirt, mostly revealed how hard it is to draw clear lines around behavior, especially when dealing with multiple languages and complex situations. They also show how difficult it is to target misinformation or abuse through the kinds of automated tools that Elon Musk has said will be running the majority of moderation decisions in Twitter 2.0.
However, the series has surfaced a new target for the far right: Yoel Roth, a former Head of Trust and Safety at Twitter.
In the early days of the billionaire's takeover of the platform, Roth appeared at Elon Musk's side to reassure advertisers of the seriousness of the new operation, before resigning less than a week later.
Bloomberg reports that Musk has suggested without evidence that Roth "is an advocate for child sexualization," using what the news service called "a baseless trope."
Musk has previous form in this area. The article points out that in 2018, Musk "called a British caver who was involved in the rescue of a trapped Thai youth soccer team a 'pedo guy.' One of his aides paid $50,000 to hire a private investigator in a futile attempt to back up the assertion."
According to CtrlAltRightDelete, a website that covers the rise of the far right in America,
"Musk’s attacks immediately put Roth in harm’s way. Last night on patriots.win, the current iteration of /r/the_donald, the top-rated comment on a thread about #TheTwitterFiles was, “we need to see people hang.” Scrolling through the site, I found multiple violent threats targeting Roth specifically."
Many of the false accusations against Roth echo some of the worst lies at the center of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which frequently accuses people with left-wing views of being a pedophile.
The events of the weekend led to The Atlantic today labeling Elon Musk "a far-right activist" and some Twitter users describing the Twitter CEO as "QElon."
UPDATE: CNN reports that Roth has had to flee his home following death threats.
This is apparently a regular event where platforms share tactics to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the internet.
Elon Musk tweeted last month that the removal of child sexual abuse material is his "priority #1". So far, this looked like his firing most of the team combating this material overseas, slamming previous CEO Jack Dorsey without evidence for failing to take it seriously, falsely accusing the previous Head of Trust of Safety of sexualizing children, and now skipping one of the key meetings to combat online CSAM.
They wrote, "Following a series of missteps by Twitter leadership, the platform may seem as if it’s becoming just another example of an exploited, ungoverned space."
The council has more than 70 members. It started in February 2016, and according to Slate, it "advised Twitter leadership on hefty issues like human rights, harassment, and suicide prevention."
Since Musk took over the platform, Twitter has not reached out to the council, although the Twitter CEO did say once that he would create a content moderation council of his own, before quickly dropping the idea and blaming others for the decision.
Elon Musk replied "I love your music. Hope you come back. Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?"
The singer did not respond.
Musk then replied favorably to someone who wrote that the singer's post was probably written by a "newly minted marxist social media person w/brain damage."
After being given access to Twitter's internal messages, the controversial Substacker columnist falsely accused Twitter of "shadowbanning" prominent accounts. A shadowban is when someone thinks they're posting publicly when in fact nobody can see their messages. This isn't something Twitter does or has ever done, and she found no evidence to suggest otherwise.
What Twitter has been doing since May 2018 (and discussed publicly) is limit the reach of certain tweets and accounts based on their content. This is something that Elon Musk said on November 14th that his Twitter would also do.
Bari Weiss falsely claimed yesterday that such actions were a hidden conspiracy that she had uncovered for the first time.
Weiss, who worked on her thread with prominent anti-trans author Abigail Shrier, makes no reference to the fact that independent researchers found a year ago that Twitter's algorithm favors the political right more than the left.
Instead, she included screenshots of a tool that was revealed in 2020, falsely claiming that it showed that a prominent right-wing account that has repeatedly harassed and endangered trans people was under negative "special scrutiny." In fact, the screenshot she shared demonstrated that moderators are not allowed to moderate, ban, or suspend the account without senior staff approval, giving it privileged status.
Among many other factual errors in her thread, Weiss also claimed that a "secret group... without overview" was making key policy decisions, naming the CEO, the head of safety, the head of legal, and the head of technology as members of this group. As the most senior members of Twitter's leadership, it's unclear who else she felt should have been overseeing the company's actions.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk continues to make unilateral decisions around moderation and safety, leading to an increase in racism and homophobic abuse on the platform.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk tweeted a meme featuring the face of far-right symbol Pepe the Frog for the second time in 11 days.
63% of female engineers were laid off, compared to 48% of men in similar roles. The lawsuit alleges that the probability of this being based on chance is 1.103 out of 100 trillion.
This would reduce the debt burden on the company and increase its runway before bankruptcy, while making Musk personally responsible for the debt via Tesla stock he would put up as collateral.
Meanwhile, some Tesla investors are selling their shares based on Musk's performance at the social media platform.
"You've got a great car company," one shareholder told Bloomberg. "Just stop it."
Around 150 people from Elon Musk's other companies are still working at Twitter, along with two of his cousins
Two of his cousins have also apparently been hired as full-time employees, while more than five thousand staff have been laid off, fired, or have resigned over the past month and a half.
In a Delaware court on November 16th, Elon Musk testified that some Tesla engineers were helping out at Twitter but only on a "voluntary basis" and "after hours."
Amazon, Snap, Uber, GoDaddy, USA Today, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were among those whose promoted tweets appeared on the pages of the founder of a major Nazi website, and a prominent member of a white nationalist group.
The newspaper talked to a former Twitter employee who said that there are manual settings that Twitter employees could deploy to prevent this, but following the mass firings and resignations across the company, it is unclear if moderation teams are in place to handle this situation.
Last month, Musk announced that more than 65,000 banned accounts with at least 10,000 followers would be restored to the platform.
Elon Musk seemed to confirm these reports by tweeting at the Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, "So city of SF attacks companies providing beds for tired employees instead of making sure kids are safe from fentanyl. Where are your priorities @LondonBreed!?"
NBC reports that janitors have joined ex-Twitter employees in a picket line outside Twitter's San Francisco offices.
The California Labor Federation tweeted that they are picketing because 48 low-paid workers have been fired three weeks before Christmas, and Twitter's new contractor will not be rehiring the janitors "despite [an] obligation to rehire per county and state requirements."
Following the mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Apple had paused its advertising, just as many other large brands did, to avoid appearing insensitive for tweeting promotions alongside graphic or mourning tweets.
However, nobody remaining at Twitter was able to tell this to Musk, who instead went on the offensive before flying to California, where Apple CEO Tim Cook was able to explain to him some of the basics about advertising on social media.
Among them is the revelation that Musk's lawyer Alex Spiro told teams "how Elon had launched rockets before, so we should trust his vision."
"People started asking more questions, and then one employee started getting visibly upset and started having a panic attack — she was crying and was on the floor. Alex didn’t know how to handle the situation so pretty much ignored her and the conversation essentially ended at that point."According to the correspondent, those who decided to stay at the company "were mainly people who needed healthcare, were about to go on maternity/paternity leave/etc."
"I can't exactly say why because it's one of those things where, it's like: my biological neural nets said, 'It is important to buy Twitter' and just like with a digital neural net, you can't really exactly explain why the neural net is able to understand an image or text – the collective result of the neural net says this is an important decision, or this is the right action, and my biological neural net concluded that it was important to buy Twitter, and that if Twitter was not bought and steered in a good direction, it would be a danger for the future of civilization, and so that's why I bought it."
Their public statement includes the following paragraphs:
"Anyone who uses Twitter has noticed the proliferation of extremist posts in their daily feed. Many of these handles were previously banned by Twitter because they spread hatred and bigotry. Now they are back. That is not free speech. It is a cynical marketing strategy.
"Mr. Musk is hiding behind the curtain of being a defender of balanced public dialogue. Yet he himself has used Twitter to spread hatred and bigotry. In a now-deleted Tweet, Mr. Musk used the antisemitic meme Pepe the Frog. If antisemitism is okay, then so is homophobia, misogyny, and racism. That may help Mr. Musk make money. But it can erode our democracy and destroy our country by dividing Americans against each other."
The statement calls on other District Attorneys to also leave the platform.
Fortune reports that its rating had previously been downgraded from BB+ to B- in November, because of the high amount of leverage involved in the acquisition.
The downgrading will make it harder for the banks that hold the company's multi-billion dollar debt load to share the risk with new investors.
Someone working at Twitter said that no announcement had been sent out about these spaces, but that there "were maybe four to eight per floor."
Meanwhile, recruiters are apparently trying to hire for key roles at Twitter, saying "Twitter 2.0 will be a great place to take on challenging engineering problems at scale."
Musk claimed that the documents showed shocking violations of the First Amendment in relation to the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop. Taibbi released them on Friday in a long Twitter thread, dubbed "The Twitter Files."
What it was:
- A very long thread showing internal debate at Twitter about how to handle a tricky moderation question
- An accidentally doxxing of the personal email addresses of Twitter's former CEO Jack Dorsey, and Representative Ro Khanna, as well as the names of junior Twitter employees, who are now receiving death threats
- An implication without evidence that Twitter employees must be biased because some of them had donated to Democrats
- Evidence that the tweets that were removed following a request from the Biden campaign contained nonconsensual pornography
What it wasn't:
- Anything related to the First Amendment, as Joe Biden was only a candidate at the time, and there is no implication that his campaign did anything other than request the removal of certain tweets
- Any evidence of wrongdoing
Despite this nonevent, described by The Verge as "a flop", the billionaire owner of Twitter isn't showing any signs of cutting back on sharing conspiracy theories on the platform.
He tweeted over the weekend, "I've seen a lot of concerning tweets about the recent Brazil election" as well as calling the New York Times "an unregistered lobbying firm for far left politicians."
As Musk brings many far-right conspiracy theorists back to the platform, this may be the start of several such "revelations."
Industry publication AdAge reports that "Agency execs said they’ve sent the offering to all of their clients, but they don’t expect it will get brands that have paused spend on Twitter to return."
A senior media buyer told the Financial Times, "They sound like the guy playing the violin on the Titanic. I don’t think any client is willing to take the risk."
In the fiscal year 2021, advertising sales represented nearly 89% of the company's income.
Musk said that "his account is being suspended for incitement to violence".
Meanwhile, among the many thousands of un-suspended accounts today was that of Andrew Anglin, the founder of the Nazi website The Daily Stormer and a man described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "a prolific internet troll and serial harasser."
On November 9th, a judge issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Anglin for, according to the AP, "ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an anti-Semitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family."
Anglin was already today turning up in people's "Who to follow" recommendations from the platform.
In related news, The New York Times reported today that hate speech on the platform has risen sharply in recent weeks as "antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site."
Law firm partner Akiva M Cohen last night tweeted out his letter to Elon Musk and Twitter's acting general counsel demanding that the company pay out the full severance that employees had been promised, including the line "Deposing you will be a joy, and you should be aware that Washington law, among others that will apply, will allow us to obtain an award against you, personally, and not just Twitter the company."
Meanwhile, Lisa Bloom of The Bloom Firm of attorneys announced that she will be holding a press conference on Monday alongside three former Twitter employees to "reveal next steps" of their legal action against the company.
Elon Musk has apparently relied on the results from Twitter polls for decisions including the return of Donald Trump and several far-right and anti-trans agitators to the platform.
Given that he attempted to get out of the purchase of Twitter because of what he claimed was a rampant bot problem, Musk now seems to have no qualms relying on the most bot-friendly part of Twitter to make his decisions.
“I don’t think there’s anyone left to tell him [that the polls are basically bogus],” one former Twitter employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told Rolling Stone. “The number of people who understand polls that are left – it’s basically zero.”
Today, Andrew Lawrence of Media Matters was banned for apparent spam violations before having his account restored without explanation.
Dean Baker, founder of the left-wing Center for Economic Policy Research suffered the same fate.
Two days ago, The Intercept reported that "several prominent antifascist organizers and journalists" had also had their accounts suspended after Elon Musk replied to far-right writer Andy Ngo asking him to tell him of any "Antifa" accounts that should be banned. Several of those now banned by Twitter were incorrectly accused by Ngo of being violent extremists.
It is unclear what Musk means by this statement. Journalist Mike Masnick, who runs the website Techdirt, described it as "How to get your $44 billion mid-life crisis toy named in lots of lawsuits."
In it, the company said that "brand safety is only possible when human safety is the top priority" and that their trust and safety team "remains strong and well-resourced," despite all reports to the contrary. In other news, Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year is "gaslighting."
The blogpost also stated that "automated detection plays an increasingly important role in eliminating abuse."
Yoel Roth, until recently Twitter's Head of Trust and Safety, yesterday explained why this approach doesn't work.
"You can't use ML [machine learning] for all of it, you can't automate it, there is no 'set it and forget it' when it comes to trust and safety. I think Twitter's challenge going forward is not can the platform build machine learning — sure, they can— but are there enough people who understand the emergent malicious campaigns that happen on the service and understand it well enough to guide product strategy and policy direction. I don't think there are enough people left at the company who can do that work to keep pace."
Two days ago, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, said in regard to compliance with EU data laws that they were "concerned and tracking [Twitter] very closely."
When Breton and Musk met in May this year, Elon Musk described the European legal framework as "exactly aligned with my thinking."
According to Breton, the EU will carry out a "stress test" on Twitter early next year.
The new note reads "Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy."
The Verge reports that "the company suspended a total of 11,230 accounts and removed nearly 100,000 pieces of [COVID misinformation] since January 2020."
At a conference where he was speaking today, former head of Trust and Safety at Yoel Roth described this move as "bad and damaging."
Today he posted to his 1.1 million followers, "This will be my last tweet. Last night @elonmusk posted an alt-right anti-Semitic meme, a fake @cnn story, and an image of guns on his bedside table. @Twitter has become a cesspool of racism, anti-semitism, disinformation, and dimwitted alt-right hate, and it’s time to leave."
They also say that Twitter's ad revenue has fallen 49 percent or more week over week in key markets. This doesn't include its biggest market, the United States, for which numbers were not available.
According to Zoë Schiffer of Platformer, he wrore that managers are expected to "identify low performers on a regular basis." Those employees will be given four weeks to improve or be fired.
In his email, Musk said that "Deleting a line of code is more valuable than adding one," which may come as a surprise to everyone he told to print out the code they had recently written on his first day in charge of the platform.
Musk's email also said, "As a reminder, all managers are expected to write a meaningful amount of software themselves." Gergely Orosz reports that each Engineering Manager at Twitter now has a minimum of 20 direct reports.
Later in the day, Musk emailed all staff to say that "Anyone writing software or doing design should be on the 10th floor" of their headquarters in San Francisco. (Casey Newton reports that there are now six designers remaining at Twitter, out of a previous team of 220.)
Using a description that could perhaps also be applied to himself, Musk added that "it is intended to be dense and intense."
On November 24th, Elon Musk tweeted that "removing child exploitation is priority #1."
Somewhat less reassuringly, he then asked everyone on Twitter to "reply in comments if you see anything that Twitter needs to address."
Platformer reports that the number restored will include "62,000 accounts with more than 10,000 followers, including one account that has over 5 million followers and 75 accounts with over 1 million followers."
Aside from the social damage that is likely to occur from bringing back people banned for abuse, misinformation, and violent conduct, Platformer says that there is also a heavy engineering cost to this work:
"Each reinstatement requires Twitter to rebuild a social graph, activating data on who the account follows and who follows the account. For large accounts like Trump’s, with 88 million followers, that’s millions of lists that Twitter has to update and maintain."
Musk himself described App Store-mandated revisions for customer safety as “censorship”, and in response to reports that they had chosen to exercise their free speech rights by reducing their spending on Twitter ads, asked “Do they hate free speech in America?”
He has repeatedly attacked Apple in the past over its App Store and fees.
Advertisements for Apple's seasonal sale were being promoted today on the platform, but if the company has heavily reduced its Twitter budget, that would be bad news for Elon Musk.
The Washington Post reports that “In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million on ads on the social network, according to a document reviewed by The Washington Post that was compiled from internal Twitter data. Apple’s spending accounted for more than 4 percent of Twitter’s revenue that quarter.”
The Washington Post states that "For hours, anyone searching for posts from [Chinese cities with protests] and using the Chinese names for the locations would see pages and pages of useless tweets instead of information about the daring protests as they escalated to include calls for Communist Party leaders to resign."
Among the recent layoffs, the newspaper reports, "some groups, including those dealing with human rights issues, safety concerns and deceptive foreign influence operations, have been reduced to a handful of people or no staff at all."
Alex Stamos of the Stanford Internet Observatory described it as "the first major failure to stop gov[ernment] interference in the Musk era."
"While staff in the UK and Germany have not been paid, those in the Netherlands and Ireland have been—suggesting that the problem is one of staffing and operations, rather than a systematic refusal to pay workers," they wrote.
"The Brussels exits are symptomatic of a global trend from India to France where local Twitter executives who had key positions to deal with government officials abruptly left the organisation in recent weeks in the widespread cuts.
"This has led to growing concern over whether the company has the personnel to ensure compliance with local laws designed to police online content, potentially opening the company up to lawsuits and regulatory action."
A few days earlier, the EU Commissioner for Justice met with Twitter executives in Dublin to discuss his concerns about the platform's ability to comply with the new European Digital Services Act, which focuses on the removal of illegal content.
He told the Irish Times, “we want to be sure that... it’s still possible... to be fully compliant with the regulations. If it’s not, of course, you know, that we have some possible means to act. Now there are in the DSA very huge possible fines.”
These numbers are hard to verify, but anecdotally there seems to be a steep rise in bot-based trending topics since the Twitter Curation team was fired. For example, "要要搞定個要" – a Chinese phrase that means "Get it done" – was listed today as "Trending in the United States" with 650K tweets, the vast majority of which seem to be posted by spam bots.
Also included in his slide deck were screenshots of his vision for Twitter 2.0, which included both images dated with the year 2019. and Lorum Ipsum text.
Among the titles in his deck were "Advertising as Entertainment" and "Longform Tweets." Next to the slide title "Payments" is simply a blank space.
She did not click "Yes" on the form to sign up for "extremely hardcore" Twitter 2.0 because, the newspaper says, "the exit package did not meet her contractual entitlements, and for those who wished to remain with Twitter, the terms and conditions in relation to what Mr Musk expected of them was not set out in the document."
She was then locked out of her email and told that the company had accepted her resignation.
McSweeney told the court that she has been working 75-hour weeks since the recent layoffs.
The emails sent to the engineers were apparently unsigned and stated that "as a result of the recent code review exercise, it has been determined that your code is not satisfactory, and we regret to inform you that your employment with Twitter is terminated effective immediately."
Schiffer later reported that among those fired was "Ying Xiao, a senior staff ML research scientist. One colleague described him as 'the best ML modeler' around."
Casey Newton, also of Platformer, tweeted that another of those fired was "Ikuhiro Ihara, a highly respected senior software engineer who helped lead the push to expand tweets to 280 characters."
Now-former Twitter infrastructure engineer Yiwei Zhuang posted on LinkedIn that those laid off included people currently on parental leave, and that he now has 60 days to start another job because of his visa – a task further complicated by the holiday period.
Alex Heath of The Verge tweeted that the fired engineers were offered four weeks of pay, two months less than those who did not click the "Yes" option to join "extremely hardcore" Twitter 2.0 last week.
Three days ago, Musk is reported to have told Twitter staff that he was done with layoffs.
With 14 hours to go, the vote is currently 72% in favor of his amnesty.
According to the Twitter Help Center, reasons that accounts may be suspended, despite their content being legal, include
- behavior that harasses or intimidates or is intended to shame or degrade others
- calling for serious harm on a person or group of people
- unwanted sexual advances
- encouraging others to harass or target specific individuals or groups with abusive behavior
- denying mass casualty events took place
- inciting fear or spread fearful stereotypes about a protected category
- repeated and/or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes
- hateful imagery
Venture capitalist David Sacks, who Musk brought in to help manage Twitter and who previously wrote a book called The Diversity Myth that belittled date rape victims and criticized moves to encourage diversity on college campuses, tweeted that "The conquest of Wokerosi is complete. Melt them down and turn them into an Iron Throne."
New York Times journalist Ryan Mac responded to explain that the t-shirts (which were also put on sale) were created in 2016 by the internal Black Twitter group Blackbirds as "a call for awareness to the disproprtionate police violence against Black people, and support for Black employees and Black Twitter."
According to Reuters, Musk's company Tesla is currently facing several lawsuits related to racial discrimination in the workplace.
Five days later, on November 2nd, Musk met with representatives from groups including the NAACP, Color of Change, Free Press, and the Anti-Defamation League to discuss how he planned to combat hate on the platform.
Yesterday evening, Musk said that he had reinstated Donald Trump and others without keeping his word about the Content Moderation Council, because he only agreed to the Council at the suggestion of the groups in the meeting, and they had broken the deal, which had directly led to Twitter being starved of advertising revenue.
CNBC today reports that at least four of the groups represented at the meeting deny that any such deal had been made. According to Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, who was at the meeting, the Council was "something he introduced before we even met him," a fact that Musk's own tweets seem to confirm. "We simply asked for more info & that it include folks from impacted communities."
Others in attendance said that they had expressed concerns about the Council, with the NAACP's President Derrick Johnson telling Politico that he was skeptical of the idea.
Business Insider reports that half of Twitter's top 100 advertisers no longer run ads on the platform. In the midst of mass resignation, legislative threats, internal chaos, major bugs, increased harassment, and brand impersonation, there is no evidence that the work of activist groups is a major reason why media buyers are currently staying away from the platform.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk continues to direct account reinstatements and make major moderation decisions on the platform.
Twitter's Trust and Safety capacities have been massively reduced, leading to internal protests and major vulnerabilities
The piece also states that Musk was given a seven-page memo outlining the likely abuses that would occur if he went ahead with his plans for Twitter Blue. He launched the service anyway, many of these abuses came to pass, and then Musk abruptly halted the rollout 48 hours later.
The article continues, "[v]irtually, the entire team dedicated to rooting out covert foreign influence operations was fired or quit, putting in jeopardy the company’s abilities to detect accounts including those attempting to influence U.S. politics."
Internal documents apparently show that Musk plans to rely mostly on automated moderation, which goes against prevailing industry best practices for platform safety.
"Mr. Musk’s staff said the services were authorized by the company’s former management and not by him. His staff have since avoided the calls of the travel vendors, the people said."
The article also states that Twitter has stopped paying some of its office rents and is attempting to renegotiate existing contracts with major companies including Amazon, Oracle, and the NFL, threatening that no Elon Musk company will ever deal with them again if they don't agree to drop their prices.
Twitter's finances are apparently being managed by a group of outsiders that Musk invited into Twitter, including the head of his tunneling project The Boring Company, the head of his family office, and a former director of Tesla.
The article also quotes Elon Musk as saying recently that his “bullshit meter was redlining” when he met Bankman-Fried, which clearly didn't prevent the two of them going into business together.
Perhaps Bankman-Fried can help advise Elon Musk on his stated goal that Twitter "will make it easy to do crypto", which sounds reminiscent of Facebook's disastrous attempt at cryptocurrency and could bring about a highly anticipated TIGG/W3IGG crossover episode.
Update: On November 23rd, Elon Musk denied that this was true.
"He said that the company’s ads should 'look like tweets,' one employee said, despite the fact that the company’s ads already are tweets."
Elon Musk also said that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones's account will never be restored because of personal reasons.
Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer wrote on Platformer that "this sort of ad hoc approach to content moderation and community standards is completely unsustainable. It does not scale beyond a handful of the most prominent accounts on the service. And, most worryingly, it is not based on any clear principles: Musk is leading trust and safety at Twitter the same way he is leading product and hiring — by whim."
Meanwhile, Melody Schreiber reports in The Guardian that several anti-vaccine information sites now appear to be verified, thanks to Twitter Blue.
This was on the same day that Bloomberg reported that he had laid off more people from the sales team.
Any engineers who would like to join the company can look forward to emailing weekly code samples to Elon Musk.
The person describes themselves as "a director at a medium sized b2b tech company" that usually spends $8-10m a year on Twitter ads.
“I think the things we saw in these last 2 weeks means many more advertisers will bail on the platform in the coming weeks (for non-ideological or virtue signaling reasons)”, the user wrote, before explaining their reasons as a combination of performance issues, brand safety issues, the sudden disappearance of their account team at Twitter, and major bugs with the Twitter ad campaigns system.
She also shared a tweet containing a video that seemed to confirm this weird bug. A small number of users also complained about links on Twitter sending them to the wrong sites.
Meanwhile, in Germany, where 30 people were fired, several former Twitter employees have announced that they are working with the German union ver.di to sue Twitter for unfair dismissal.
One of the German former Twitter staff members said, in reference to the company's international teams based outside of the United States, "There's hardly anyone left."
Copies of Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and Hackers are among those being illegally distributed on the platform.
This is happening just as the soccer World Cup begins. During previous World Cups, organizers FIFA have been extremely aggressive over alleged copyright infringement on social media.
While the poll was happening, Musk tweeted that it was under heavy attack from bots, which provided "interesting lessons to clean up future polls."
When the poll ended, with 51.8% of votes in favor of Trump's return, Musk declared that "The people have spoken. Vox populi, Vox dei", a Latin phrase which translates as "the voice of the people is the voice of God.", and restored Trump's account.
(The complete Vox populi quote goes on to say "And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.")
Trump's reinstatement contradicted Musk's October 28 statement that "No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before [the content moderation] council convenes." The council has not yet been convened, or named.
Donald Trump says he doesn't see any reason to return to Twitter, as he is focused on his little-used platform Truth Social. According to the Washington Post, the accused sexual assault perpetrator lied in public 30,573 times during the four years of his presidency.
The following day, the two other people on the call – Yoel Roth, head of Trust and Safety, and Robin Wheeler, head of Global Ad Sales – resigned.
According to Bloomberg, Musk persuaded Wheeler to reverse her decision.
Casey Newton of Platformer reported on Friday that, seven days after he persuaded her to stay, Musk fired Robin Wheeler, a fact that she seemed to confirm with the now-familiar salute emoji.
On Saturday, Bloomberg reported that Musk is considering firing several more employees in the ad sales and partnerships teams on Monday.
Bay Area affiliate KPIX later tweeted a near-identical statement.
Update: On November 20th, they announced a restoration of their Twitter activity.
Elon Musk announces "Freedom Fridays", starts by restoring two accounts banned for anti-trans statements
He added that the "Trump decision" had not yet been made.
He previewed these decisions by announcing "Freedom Fridays" in a previous tweet.
Musk also ordered all remaining developers to "email me a bullet point summary of what your code commits have achieved in the last ~6 months, along with up to 10 screenshots of the most salient lines of code.” He apparently has said that he will personally conduct technical reviews with all engineers.
As Fortune points out, "it is unclear exactly how many employees remain at Twitter."
Some employees hung up on Elon Musk while he was trying to persuade people to stay (New York Times)
The entirety of the payroll department and the US tax department resigned today (Kali Hays, a journalist at Insider)
Cardi B’s account posted hardcore pornography (she says she was hacked) (Cardi B)
"Musk spent Thursday in meetings across different divisions of Twitter, making personal appeals to the many employees attempting to resign." (Mike Isaac, a journalist at the New York Times)
Elon Musk tweeted that "The best people are staying so I'm not super worried." (Elon Musk)
Roughly 75% of the remaining 3700ish employees opted not to stay at Twitter (Kylie Robison, a journalist at Fortune)
Lettuce.wtf has a webcam with, yes, a lettuce, asking if Twitter will outlast it (Lettuce.wtf)
Zoë Schiffer reports that "Twitter just alerted employees that effective immediately, all office buildings are temporarily closed and badge access is suspended." The reason, she says, is because "Elon Musk and his team are terrified employees are going to sabotage the company." That paranoia matches what we heard earlier. She later added that the reason could also be because they don't even know who has quit: "So far no Twitter employees have been deactivated — even those who’ve publicly resigned. Musk and his team only collected the list of “yes’s” — employees who said they want to be part of Twitter 2.0. They’re still trying to track who is out." (Zoë Schiffer, a journalist at Platformer)
"Remaining and departing Twitter employees told The Verge that, given the scale of the resignations this week, they expect the platform to start breaking soon... Multiple “critical” teams inside Twitter have now either completely or near-completely resigned, said other employees who requested anonymity to speak without Musk’s permission. That includes Twitter’s traffic and front end teams that route engineering requests to the correct backend services. The team that maintains Twitter’s core system libraries that every engineer at the company uses is also gone. “You cannot run Twitter without this team,” a departing employee said." (The Verge)
Elon Musk inevitably decided to post through it, posting a meme about someone giving gang signs in front of a tombstone with Twitter's logo on both the person and the tombstone, and a pirate flag. A Community Note explained that "The pirate flag appears to be some kind of feeble attempt at edginess; however upon further investigation, it seems to represent a pirate ship that has been abandoned by its crew after the captain demanded they become "hardcore" or leave with 3 months worth of treasure" (Elon Musk/Community Notes)
Meanwhile, the soccer World Cup, a major global event that causes surges in Twitter usage, starts on Sunday.
Let that sink in.
As a result, the ban on remote working is being relaxed and Elon Musk is meeting with individual engineers to persuade them to stay.
Orosz states that "Unless something changes, Twitter's engineering workforce could be down by 90%, in just 3 weeks." He expects that Elon Musk will have to "throw money at this" in the form of retention bonuses and short-term contracts.
According to reporting by security site infoRisk Today, Twitter's two-factor authentication (2FA) can be disabled by spoofing the phone number an account uses and sending the word “STOP” via SMS. This makes the account extremely vulnerable to hackers. Perfect timing.
Extremely hardcore applicants have already started tweeting at him, though none are more thirsty than former T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
A large percentage of Twitter Blue subscribers are porn, crypto, and/or from the Middle East; Twitter Blue currently loses at least $36 per user
"Twitter would need to charge $44 a month to recoup the advertising value generated by the top segment of U.S. power users if it relied only on subscriptions. The more active the user, the higher the subscription price would need to be," wrote Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill.
They also report that "a large portion of the most-followed accounts that got “verified” via Twitter Blue" – a total of 150,000 users – "are from a few specific subcommunities on Twitter: pornography, cryptocurrency advocates, and overseas accounts, particularly from the Middle East."
Anyone who does not click "Yes" in a Google Form "by 5pm ET tomorrow (Thursday) will receive three months of severance."
Journalist Casey Newton seemed to confirm these reports. Someone on Mastodon using the name Roberto Frenna, identified as a UK-based software engineer for Twitter, posts that he is among the people fired.
As part of their original arrangement within the EU, all new Twitter features had to go through the oversight of an Ireland-based team. Musk's determination to launch new features quickly, combined with the firing and resignations of key members of the data and privacy team, puts this arrangement at risk. GDPR fines can be up to 4% of annual global turnover.
She concluded with a rare bit of pessimism for the column: "Good luck, and I’m sorry something you helped build is being needlessly destroyed."
A few hours later, several Twitter users reported that the two-factor authentication service Twitter used to let them sign into their accounts was broken.
The parodies now have their own entry in Know Your Meme.
It's plausible that nobody left at Twitter knows why, but Twitter does explain why in its 'How to Tweet' guide.
"Tweet source labels help you better understand how a Tweet was posted. This additional information provides context about the Tweet and its author. If you don’t recognize the source, you may want to learn more to determine how much you trust the content."
Twitter Android developer Eric Frohnhoefer quote tweeted his boss to say "I have spent 6 yrs working on Twitter for Android and can say this is wrong."
Bloomberg reporter Ashlee Vance shared a screenshot of the exchange, saying it felt like "the opposite of whatever Quiet Quitting was." Musk replied to her tweet nine minutes later, saying "🤣💯"
He later tweeted to say that the Frohnhoefer had been fired.
Zoe Schiffer also reported that the contractors are losing healthcare benefits in 48 hours, leaving some who are pregnant or have ongoing conditions scrambling. She adds that information about COBRA - the program in the USA to pay to keep your company-provided healthcare for one more year - is going out via snail mail, leading to inevitable gaps in coverage.
He asked Musk for an explanation, and Musk replied, "Perhaps it is because your real account sounds like a parody?" and then asked why the senator's profile photo was him wearing a mask.
The senator responded to say, "One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will."
Anonymous employee: We need to figure out how this can be abused. What are people going to do with it? What are the Bitcoin bros going to do to try to steal more of people’s money abusing this feature?… I’ve read the design docs that exist as of right now. And the spaces for that information and that work are empty.
Interviewer: Wait. They are just blank spots in the, how could this be abused, section?
Anonymous employee: Yeah.
In 2015, deeply unpleasant human Peter Thiel said that "I was thinking of doing a book on PayPal … and [the chapter on Elon Musk] was going to be titled, 'The man who knew nothing about risk.'" Musk headed up a PayPal banking venture, issuing credit cards. According to Thiel, the venture was short-lived and disastrous.
After announcing verification checkmarks for Twitter Blue users, some profiles temporarily showed an additional “Official” checkmark.
The article goes into detail about how disabled users are likely to be harmed by the changes that Musk has put into effect.
Hours after the layoffs, which impacted Twitter’s site reliability engineering team heavily, first reports of Twitter behaving weirdly emerge. MIT Technology Review talks to a former Twitter engineer who says that it will break in the coming weeks.
Musk cut Twitter’s workforce by approximately 50%, and that still wasn't enough, reports said.