Fired employees asked to return, Banning of unlabelled Parody accounts – The latest on the Elon Musk and Twitter debacle

What Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media network, which he affectionately calls a “digital town square,” will entail has been a source of contention among Twitter users for months, let alone the past week. When announcing his intention to purchase the company, the billionaire creator of SpaceX stated that individuals should be able to openly express their opinions with as little interference and oversight as possible.

To anyone who had ever been the target of hate speech, threats, impersonators, or other conduct that has historically constituted a Twitter violation, this probably seemed absurd. But for some who felt unjustly suppressed or unrepresented by Twitter’s algorithm, Musk’s potential engagement was a ray of hope for the future.

On October 27, Musk concluded the $44 billion transaction with a promise that Twitter would not become a “free-for-all hellscape.”

And, depending on whom you ask, Twitter either immediately degenerated into a hellish free-for-all or was liberated from the constraints of fascist content moderation.

Here’s the latest on the ongoing drama at Twitter HQ since the billionaire took over.

Fired employees asked to return

On Friday, the social media company laid off nearly 3,700 employees, only to reach out to dozens of them soon after.

The social network company laid off nearly 3,700 individuals on Friday, only to reach out to dozens of staff who were either terminated in error or deemed indispensable to the billionaire businessman’s proposed improvements. 

In an internal corporate letter shared on slack, the whirlwind of events follows Musk’s admission in a tweet that the company he and wealthy investors purchased for $42 billion is losing $4 million per day.

Following Musk’s acquisition, which was finalized in late October, Twitter reduced its employees as a cost-cutting measure. Many employees discovered they had lost their jobs after their access to companywide networks such as email and Slack was abruptly blocked. The demands for employees to return indicate the hasty and disorderly nature of the process.

According to sources acquainted with the matter, Twitter has approximately 3,700 employees left. Musk is pressuring those who remain at the company to deploy new features rapidly; in some cases, employees have even spent the night at the office in order to fulfill new targets.

Twitter will ban unlabelled Parody accounts

Elon Musk says that Twitter users who impersonate without properly identifying their account as a parody would be permanently suspended.

He declared in a series of tweets that Twitter will no longer offer a warning before suspending accounts, as it had previously done.

Detailing the new policy on parody accounts, Mr. Musk tweeted: “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning.”

He added that “any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark”.

Several accounts that had changed their names to Elon Musk and made fun of the billionaire have been suspended or placed behind a warning sign, including that of American comic Kathy Griffin and former NFL player Chris Kluwe.

Other accounts, including one parodying former President of the United States Donald Trump by comedian Tim Heidecker, are yet to be suspended.

Mr. Musk has previously said he opposed permanent bans on Twitter, including that of Mr Trump’s official account. Mr. Musk said last week that banned accounts would not be reinstated until there was “a clear process for doing so”.

Twitter delays $8 ‘blue check’ verification plan until after the US midterms

Twitter will not implement account verifications for its Twitter Blue paid subscription plan until after the midterm elections.

The decision to delay the new feature comes one day after the platform introduced an updated version of its iOS app that promises to allow users who pay a monthly subscription fee to earn a blue checkmark on their accounts, a feature promised by CEO Elon Musk as a tool to combat spam on the platform.

Users will now have to pay $7.99 per month for the company’s Twitter Blue verification feature, “just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow,” according to Apple’s App Store. The checkmark has long been used to verify the authenticity of government officials, prominent figures, and journalists.

The decision to delay the rollout comes as the entire decision to charge users for verification has faced wide public backlash. In a display of defiance, some celebrities on the platform posed as Musk over the weekend and revealed a potential flaw in the “Blue Check” system.

Sarah Silverman used her verified Twitter account to troll Elon Musk by mimicking his profile picture, cover photo, and name. The single distinctive characteristic of Silverman’s tweets was the @SarahKSilverman username.

“I am a freedom of speech absolutist and I eat doody for breakfast every day,” Silverman tweeted Saturday. Her account also retweeted posts supporting Democratic candidates.

Silverman’s account was subsequently labeled as “temporarily restricted,” with a warning that “there has been some unusual activity from this account” displayed to visitors before they clicked through to the profile. The comedian eventually reverted her account to its original format, replete with her own name and image.

Elon Musk and co-founder Jack Dorsey spar over new feature

Monday marked the beginning of a verbal battle between Twitter’s current CEO Elon Musk and its co-founder Jack Dorsey over the social media platform’s mission and the “Birdwatch” function.

Musk claimed that Twitter should be the medium that offers truthful information, which sparked the verbal conflict between the two.

“Twitter needs to become by far the most accurate source of information about the world. That’s our mission,” Musk tweeted.

“Accurate to who?” Dorsey asked.

To which the 51-year-old billionaire replied, “As judged by the people of Twitter via Community Notes (formerly Birdwatch).”

This was when the former Twitter CEO expressed dislike over the name “Community Notes”.

I still think…Birdwatch is a far better name. And ‘more informative’ a far better goal,” Dorsey responded.

Elon Musk shot back saying, “Birdwatch gives me the creeps”, inviting a sharp retort from Dorsey who said, “Community notes is the most boring Facebook name ever.”

Twitter’s “Community Notes” tool (previously known as Birdwatch) assists in combating misinformation by adding comments to relevant posts if individuals with diverse viewpoints deem them “useful.”

Musk earlier said that the tool has “incredible potential for improving information accuracy” on Twitter.

Birdwatch notes was launched as a pilot programme in January 2021. It became available to the public in October.

Jack Dorsey apologizes for growing company ‘too quickly’

One day after new owner and CEO Elon Musk began decreasing Twitter’s personnel by an estimated 50 percent, co-founder Jack Dorsey apologized for the scenario that resulted in mass layoffs and admitted that he was to fault for growing the company “too quickly.”

“I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation,” Dorsey tweeted Saturday.

Dorsey’s admission of guilt comes at a crucial time for the company, which is one week into a chaotic new phase under Musk’s leadership, which began with him ousting the executive leadership, including CEO Parag Agrawal. Advertisers and consumers apprehensive of Musk’s aspirations are abandoning the site, which is now under pressure to increase revenue.

In response, Musk has proposed solutions like charging users for badges and identifying them as verified accounts. Musk’s ambition for “free speech” on the platform has civil rights organizations and information specialists concerned that it may become a refuge for hate speech, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.

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