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People say that Elon Musk is a brilliant but crazy business leader. But, unfortunately, in his first ten days as CEO of Twitter, he has done more of the first than the second.
Mr. Musk convinced his wealthy friends to invest by saying that Twitter could be great if an intelligent person ran it. There would be a lot of free speech, and businesses would do well.
But in his first ten days as CEO, Mr. Musk showed that he needed to learn how to run a social media company.
But Mr. Musk’s first policies seemed to go against what he said in the summer.
He used to say he was a “free speech absolutist” and that Donald Trump would be allowed on the platform. Now, he says it will set up a “council” with “different” voices to make decisions about controversial moderation and permanent suspensions.
Mr. Musk was talking about a policy that looked much like Facebook’s, which deals with these problems with an “oversight board.”
Twitter verification for $8
But he did say that Twitter’s verification system would change significantly.
Users who want a verified blue tick account will have to pay $8 (£7) monthly. This is because reports of a $20 monthly fee upset some celebrities, like author Stephen King.
The company may have decided the price cut, but it suggested that the pricing needed to be thought through.
In a few days, the policy will go into effect. After that, anyone could pay for verification, and would be prioritized in replies, mentions, and searches. In other words, accounts could now pay for prestige and to be boosted on the platform.
The policy announcement immediately made people wonder if it was accurate and fair. Since the user had paid their monthly fee, their content would float to the top.
Mr. Musk said his plan was a way to deal with the problem of bots on Twitter. Mass verification will take care of spam accounts. But money was also a factor. He thinks a Twitter subscription model is a way to make money.
Others asked what making the verification process public would do to stop the spread of false information.
How could Twitter ensure that everyone was who they said they were if anyone could use verification?
To properly check the expected flood of new accounts, Twitter would need a lot of people, and any of its 300 million daily active users could apply.
Massive job cuts
During Mr. Musk’s first week on the job, he asked managers to make lists of employees to let go.
On Thursday, less than a week after Mr. Musk officially bought the company. First, employees got an email telling them their jobs were in danger. Then, Twitter let go half of its 7,500 workers.
That massive cut in staff made more than a few people wonder what was happening. Why spend $44 billion on a company and then fire half of its employees?
The timing was also strange. Especially he the list of people to fire emerged so quickly.
Twitter told employees they would get an official confirmation email by Friday at 16:00 GMT, but many of them have yet to get it.
Musk said on Saturday that the new verification process would start, and anyone could apply to get a blue tick.
The New York Times then said the company has postponed the process until after the midterm elections.
Twitter knew that making such a significant policy change close to important elections could cause trouble.
According to Bloomberg, Twitter asked some of the fired workers to return to work because it was a mistake to let some of them go.
At times, it’s been hard to keep up, and it’s only been ten days. But the chaos shows that if Mr. Musk had the plan to change Twitter in the short term, it wouldn’t go as planned.