Grab Some Popcorn and Watch the Twitter Chaos
Elon Musk pretty clearly doesn't know what he's doing.
To sum up the state of things:
Hello, dear readers, and happy Friday.
I’ve spent most of this week watching in equal parts horror and excitement about what’s been happening over on Twitter lately. As I’ve been trying to wean myself off the site and focus on getting my existing followers over there to instead subscribe to this newsletter you’re reading right now… *hint hint, nudge nudge*…
… and setting up shop other places on the internet like Mastodon (you can follow me on there by clicking this link if you can figure it out), it’s been hard to tune out the chaos that’s been unfolding over on the bird site. Let’s review.
📰 Reading assignments
“Two Weeks of Chaos: Inside Elon Musk’s Takeover of Twitter”, The New York Times, 11/11/22
“Elon Is Re-Verifying Neo-Nazis and Selling Blue Checks to Transphobes and QAnoners”, Gizmodo, 11/11/22
“Inside Elon Musk’s first meeting with Twitter employees”, The Verge, 11/10/22
“Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in coming weeks”, MIT Technology Review, 11/8/22
✅ Verification? Yeah, it’s busted as all hell now!
One of the big changes Musk implemented was putting an end to what he called “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark,” and instead offering the designation to anyone who wants to cough up $8 per month, making it, effectively, meaningless.
What Twitter verification was created to do: to ensure that when people see a tweet that says “Coca-Cola” with a blue check next to it, it’s actually Coke and not some random person. If you were a big-name brand or a public figure/relevant person at risk of being impersonated, you were given one after sending documents to the company proving that you are who you say you are.
What Musk did: change it so verification simply meant “Hey, this person has $8.” No verification of identity required. People warned that this would open the door to widespread impersonation, and oh wow, were they right! This video has some great examples:
And here’s NBC’s Ben Collins explaining the chaos:
The people who keep Twitter running are all pretty much gone.
CEO Parag Agrawal
CFO Ned Segal
Head of Legal Policy, Trust, and Safety Vijaya Gadde
Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner
Head of Integrity and Safety Yoel Roth
And a few thousand others
I don’t understand what Elon Musk is trying to do with Twitter. It doesn’t make sense. Sure, yes, of course, I think it sucks that he’s clearly been consuming way too much right-wing media and has convinced himself that things like “anti-conservative bias” and “shadowbanning right-wing accounts” are legitimate problems. But even if you set aside the politics of it all, I don’t understand how any of this makes sense from a business POV.
Oh! And he also said that if you don’t pay the $8/month fee, your account will be effectively treated as spam.
For years, Facebook operated under the motto “Move fast and break things.” Musk seems to be carrying out a much, much, much more literal interpretation of that over at Twitter.
And here, for making it to the very end of this piece, please enjoy this totally meaningless verification badge I made for you all: