New data access rules will make social media research harder
The fate of Musk’s Twitter username, Trump’s b-mail, and the fate of the Twitter user’s role in the Trump era
Musk’s promise to let users decide his future role at Twitter through an unscientific online survey appeared to come out of nowhere Sunday, though he had also promised in November that a reorganization was happening soon.
In May, Musk promised to overturn the ban on Donald Trump if he became the company’s owner.
But relations between the pair seem to have soured since, with the men publicly trading barbs over the summer. Musk responded to Trump saying, “I don’t hate the man but it’s time for Trump to hang up his hat and sail into the sunset.”
What Will Twitter Do Under Musk?” A Keyhole View of “The Digital Town Square” and “What Will it Be Like for the Future of Democracy”
Any company, including the one on the internet, is dependent on its people. The people who have always been drawn to it are very odd. It isn’t something you really know until you work for the company. Those are all the people who are going to leave. The people who are going to stay are not those who are making a living. There is nothing left of it.
“I don’t know that Twitter engineers ever sat around and said, ‘We are creating a Skinner box,’” said Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at New York University and author of a book about gambling machine design. She said that it is how they have built it. It is a good reason for people to know better how to self-destruct on the site.
Musk has made it clear that he wants to loosen the reins on speech. In the days after his purchase of the company he reported a rise in hate speech. Musk said that moderation policy had not changed, even though 1,500 accounts had been removed related to such posts by 31 October.
He said in the official announcement that free speech was the bedrock of a functioning democracy and that the digital town Square was where matters vital to the future of humanity were debated.
Twitter faces challenges to its free speech stance in court, as the Supreme Court agreed to take up two cases that will determine its liability for illegal content.
For a “keyhole view of what Twitter under Musk will look like,” just look at alternative platforms such as Parler, Gab and Truth Social that promise fewer restrictions on speech, said Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America.
On those sites, he said, “the feature is the bug — where being able to say and do the kinds of things that are prohibited from more mainstream social media platforms is actually why everyone gravitates to them. And what we see there is that they are cauldrons of misinformation and abuse.”
“Would be great to unwind permanent bans, except for spam accounts and those that explicitly advocate violence,” he texted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal shortly after agreeing to join the company’s board (a decision he soon backtracked).
That could mean lifting bans on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was kicked off for abusive behavior in 2018; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., whose account was suspended in January for tweeting misleading and false claims about COVID-19 vaccines; and 2020 election deniers like Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell, who were all banned in early 2021.
The person urged Musk to hire “someone who has a savvy cultural/political view” to lead enforcement, suggesting “a Blake Masters type.” Masters is the Republican Senate candidate in Arizona who has been endorsed by Trump and has echoed his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
Facebook, Twitter and the Oligarchs of the Internet: Trump vs. Musk in the White House after the Agrawal-Agrawal Referendum
Allowing Trump and others to return could set a precedent for other social networks, including Meta-owned Facebook, which is considering whether to reinstate the former president when its own ban on him expires in January 2023.
After a video meeting a few weeks later with Agrawal and Musk, Dorsey tersely summed up the situation in a text to Musk: “At least it became clear that you can’t work together. That was clarifying.
After Musk gave in and took control in late October, he slashed the workforce by more than half, upended the site’s long-time rules, amplified conspiracy theories, welcomed back banned accounts including former President Donald Trump, and released internal documents in what appeared to be an attempt to discredit the previous management.
That is likely welcome news to the billionaire, who has complained that Twitter’s costs outstrip revenues and has implied the company is overstaffed for its size.
The previous three months had been extremely tough and had to save the company from bankruptcy, but now the company is poised to breakeven if we keep at it.
He will most likely have little choice other than to find sources of revenue other than advertising, due to the weak state of the digital ad market and changes he wants to make to content moderation.
“Advertisers want to know that their ads are not going to appear alongside extremists, that they’re not going to be subsidizing or associating with the types of things that would turn off potential customers,” Carusone said.
What exactly he meant is, as always, anyone’s guess. Musk told the staff that he had a suggestion for the company, which was to emulate WeChat, a Chinese “super-app” that combines social media, messaging, payments, shopping and ride-sharing.
Other American tech companies, including Facebook and Uber, have tried this strategy, but so far Chinese-style super-apps haven’t caught on in the United States.
The oligarchs of the internet not only command larger audiences than the media barons of earlier eras; they operate under fewer constraints. That is because government has abandoned the principle that mass media companies have special obligations to society, and it has allowed a few big social networks to suffocate competition, leaving users and advertisers without practical choices or leverage.
The best way to limit the power of a single social media network is to make room for new networks and other third-party sites that allow users to change things on their website.
Editor’s Note: Kara Alaimo, an associate professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, writes about issues affecting women and social media. Her book, Why Social Media is Toxic for Women and Girls, is on fire. The book “And How We Can Reclaim It” will be published in twenty four years. She has her own opinions in this commentary. Read more opinion on CNN.
Parler, Musk, and the Far-Right: How Free Speech Policies Can Induce Torsional Outbursts on Social Media
The conservative social media company Parler announced on Monday that it is being purchased by Kanye West, who was temporarily suspended from Twitter this month for an antisemitic tweet. A statement from Parler’s parent company announcing the deal described West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, as having taken “a groundbreaking move into the free speech media space” where “he will never have to fear being removed from social media again.”
In a release by Parler, West said that “in a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves.”
If West comes to own Parler and Musk takes the reins of Twitter, an already-extant conservative ecosystem will be supercharged on social media. These men’s “free speech” policies are likely to drive away people victimized by hate online. Those who remain in these conservative spaces will become even more extreme as a result of their interactions, which could cultivate a dangerous far-right ideology that has far-reaching effects on our politics.
The analysis shows that the most popular messages with potentially toxiclanguage became more prominent after Musk took over. For tweets using words associated with anti-LGBTQ+ or antisemitic posts, seven of the top 20 posts in each category were now hateful. For popular tweets using potentially racist language, one of the top 20 was judged to be hate speech.
University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks claims that women who are victims of online hate prefer to shut down their websites, not engage in online political commentary, and take down their social networking profiles.
In reality, what these so-called free speech policies really aim at is an ugly form of censorship that scares away the voices of people who are being attacked by users.
On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why we Believe them, and What Can They Tell Us About the Truth Social App
A small group of people are loyal to one another. The percentage of adults who say they use Truth Social for news is about 2 percent, according to the research center. They’re more likely to be right-leaning or supporters of Trump. And about 87 percent of Truth Social users say they expect the news and posts there to be mostly accurate. They also report higher levels of friendliness and satisfaction from using the site than those reported by people who use Twitter or Facebook for news. It’s been mired in controversy, with a man accused of attempting to attack an FBI office allegedly posting threats to the network first. The Truth Social app was able to grow because of the company agreeing to moderate content that violates the company’s policies.
In his book “On Rumors: How falsehoods spread, Why we believe them, and What Can,” Harvard University law professor Cass Sunstein says people who are like minded often end up thinking of an extreme version of what they thought before they started talking to one another. Sunstein says this happens because their exchanges heighten their preexisting beliefs and make them more confident.
He continued: “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”
We can also expect these male owners to use their platforms to amplify their own views — even when they’re sexist, misogynistic, racist or otherwise hateful.
The way in which it retooled makes things more complicated. People who have done nothing to draw mass attention are now seeing their tweets flung out to millions of people who haven’t asked for them, and who often react badly when those chosen by the algorithm intrude on their timeline. What is good for the platform is not always good for those of us who use it.
Sarah Personette commented to Musk Thursday that she had a great discussion with him on Wednesday. Personette said that the commitment to brand safety for advertisers remained unchanged. Excited for the future!
According to The Wall Street Journal, an ad buying agency has already gotten requests from about a dozen clients to stop their ads from being run on social networking sites if Musk reestablishes the account.
In the letter Musk reiterated his earlier statement that he didn’t intend to make money from the acquisition.
The acquisition is starting to set in as employees wait for more from Musk. On Thursday afternoon, a memo was sent to employees that said that the code would not be allowed to be used until Tuesday, November 1st. Then Musk had some executives from the social networking company meet with employees from the electric car maker in order to understand what he is buying. (Bloomberg first reported the meeting.) Employees dressed up in Halloween costumes and brought their children to work for a costume party at the office.
The acquisition also promises to extend Musk’s influence. The billionaire already owns, oversees or has significant stakes in companies developing cars, rockets, robots and satellite internet, as well as more experimental ventures such as brain implants. He now controls a social media platform that affects how hundreds of millions of people communicate.
Twitter Deal with Musk: Insider Analysis of Jay Sullivan, the CEO of Twitter, and a Twitter Employee-Only Section of Blind
Delaware Chancery Court chancellor Kathaleen St. Judge McCormick gave the parties until 5 p.m. on Oct. 28 to close the deal or face a rescheduled trial.
Since Musk suddenly proclaimed he actually wanted to buy Twitter again earlier this month, Twitter’s most internally visible leader has been Jay Sullivan, the general manager of consumer and revenue product. He has been holding regular listening sessions with employees, but on Thursday, shortly after employees received a calendar invite for a “quick informal check in” call with him at 7:35PM ET, the meeting was cancelled “until further notice” without explanation.
A number of Twitter employees have recently noted the absence of their current CEO, who Musk soured on after the two first started talking about Musk joining the board. A current Twitter employee asked anonymity to speak about the disappearance of Argawal. “He has ghosted us,” said another. Both Twitter’s Slack and the Twitter employee-only section of Blind, an anonymous message board for tech workers, are full of similar comments about Argawal, according to screenshots seen by The Verge.
According to the Insider, the executives received handsome payouts for their troubles and Personettes got $11.2 million.
Musk was scheduled to be deposed on October 6th and 7th, after having moved his deposition from late September. He said he would honour the contract that his lawyers negotiated just days before the deposition. That deposition was probably going to be uncomfortable; a judge found that Musk likely deleted Signal messages that were relevant to the case. The deposition was delayed as Musk and Twitter worked toward a deal; Musk even received a court order halting proceedings to allow the deal to close by October 28th.
The company filing states that all previous members of Twitter’s board, including recently ousted CEO Parag Agrawal and chairman Bret Taylor, are no longer directors “in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.” That makes Musk the person who is responsible for determining the direction of the social network.
The Twitter Harassing Tweets of a Former Tesla Managing Director and the Times Tesla CEO Has Been Closed: A Response to Musk’s “Twitter Misinformation”
Although they came quickly, the major personnel moves had been widely expected and almost certainly are the first of many major changes the mercurial Tesla CEO will make.
About the same time, he used Twitter to criticize Gadde, the company’s top lawyer. His tweets were followed by a wave of harassment of Gadde from other Twitter accounts. For Gadde, an 11-year Twitter employee who also heads public policy and safety, the harassment included racist and misogynistic attacks, in addition to calls for Musk to fire her. On Thursday, after she was fired, the harassing tweets lit up once again.
The professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton said that the note was a different position from Musk’s in that it said that Twitter was unfairly suppressing free speech by blocking misinformation.
But it’s also a realization that having no content moderation is bad for business, putting Twitter at risk of losing advertisers and subscribers, she said.
“You do not want a place where consumers just simply are bombarded with things they do not want to hear about, and the platform takes no responsibility,” Yildirim said.
What has happened at the Microfiche headquarters? When the New York Stock Exchange announced it would shut down Twitter, and why some conservatives are angry at Musk
Musk is at the microfiche’s headquarters. He talked about implementing big changes at his $44 billion acquisition, including removing a conspiracy theory. So far, here is what has happened.
And overnight the New York Stock Exchange notified investors that it will suspend trading in shares of Twitter before the opening bell Friday in anticipation of the company going private under Musk.
Musk’s apparent enthusiasm about visiting Twitter headquarters this week stood in sharp contrast to one of his earlier suggestions: The building should be turned into a homeless shelter because so few employees actually worked there.
In the wake of the chaos at Twitter in recent weeks, there has been talk of brands quitting the platform out of concern that their ads could end up next to objectionable content. But that may not be the only or even primary reason advertisers have walked away — or why attracting new ones could be tricky. Advertisers are on edge about the platform being vulnerable to errors, as users and former employees worry about the mass exodus of staff leaving the platform vulnerable to problems.
With that announcement, Musk, who has said he now votes Republican, prompted an outcry from some conservatives, who accused him of continuing a practice they opposed. The clash shows how tension remains at the site under Musk, as the billionaire promised a more maximalist approach to “free speech” while also attempting to assure advertisers that there will still be moderation guardrails.
The article was first published in theReliable Sources newsletter. Sign up for the daily digest chronicling the evolving media landscape here.
Musk has messed with the information environment he is now in and is trying to dismantle the little infrastructure put in to help users sift through the chaos. According to recent reports, he will strip public figures and institutions of their blue verified badges if they don’t pay.
Yeah. I mean, look, I have to say, I have long been in favor of letting anyone who wants to verify themselves part of this plan. It’s not just making people pay to keep their badge. It’s also that if you pay, you could get a badge.
The right has for years lashed out at “blue checks,” whom in their eyes represent elitist gatekeepers who control the conversation, even though many conservatives also don blue badges. Taking away those free blue checks, and the air of authority they give upon the profile they are appended to, will certainly delight some conservatives.
The Blue Check: What Are You Waiting For? The Musk Blue Check Plan for Twitter, How Important is it to Keep the Integrity of the Service?
“The best thing one could do to save social networks, internet, civil discourse, democracy, email, and reduce hacking would be authenticating users” said Walter Isaacson, Musk’s authorized biographer.
The $8 verified accounts are Musk’s way of democratizing the service, he claims. The Saturday update said users who sign up for the new blue check will be just like the celebrities, companies and politicians they already follow.
At their best, these two Twitter styles are complementary. The inherent seriousness of Newswire Twitter heightens the humor and absurdity of Nonsense Twitter, and the style of Nonsense Twitter bleeds into Newswire Twitter, doing things like turning government consumer protection agencies into memelords. There are times when there is a dose of chaos like the fake North Korean propaganda feed called DPRK News.
But the system works (to the extent it does work) because verification helps separate order from chaos. A blue checkmark is a vital time-out in the game of Twitter, signaling that you can reasonably believe a person, agency, or brand is actually speaking for itself. It saves time when a scandal, an election, or a public health emergency arises that requires swift review of an account’s profile. It’s the seal of authenticity that gives serious accounts license to be playful, trusting that readers can check for their credentials.
All of which might sound like an argument for Musk’s new plan. If you’re Beyoncé or McDonald’s or the Associated Press, $240 a year isn’t much to pay for preserving that sense of trust.
What is happening inside of Twitter? Two Twitter employees as of Wednesday morning (and I am going to hear them): Artificial Intelligence generated versions of them
Iannucci is one of three members of the top leadership team that will remain with the company. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment about the current employment status of Caldwell, Sullivan, Berland and Iannucci.
Investor Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan, an Andreessen Horowitz general partner focused on crypto and Twitter’s former consumer teams lead, have both confirmed on Twitter that they are working with Musk to manage the company and brainstorm new products Musk has also reportedly brought in Craft Ventures partner David Sacks, as well as a handful of Tesla engineers.
Calacanis earlier this week tweeted that he was in New York on behalf of Twitter meeting with “the marketing and advertising community.” He has also tweeted questions to Twitter users about the platform’s subscription and bookmark features.
It needs to beef up this force to ensure moderation occurs in every major language as well as bring back the trust and safety teams that were in place prior to Musk’s mass layoffs. It has to submit regular audits to ensure that policies are applied consistently.
Since it was set up under Dorsey in 2019, Bluesky has tried to create a system that lets users see how algorithms serve up content and control their personal data, and allows them to use a single profile across several social apps. Dorsey, who bonded with Musk over a shared enthusiasm for crypto, effectively pitched him the idea of using Bluesky earlier this year when he proposed that Twitter be turned into “an open source protocol.” Musk’s response? “Super interesting idea.”
We’re going to talk to two Twitter employees, or at least two people who were Twitter employees, as of Wednesday morning — not sure what their status is going to be by the time you hear this — about what’s happening inside of Twitter. And we will let you hear them, to be precise, an artificial intelligencegenerated version of them.
The House of the Dragon on HBO: A Discussion with Tori Lafourcade, Lauren Goode, Michael Calore, and Boone Ashworth
Tori wants you to encourage your male-presenting friends interested in fathering children to watch House of the Dragon on HBO. There is a new album from Natalia Lafourcade. Lauren recommends reevaluating your relationship with Twitter, and social media in general.
Her biography can be found on the social networking site. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is a fighter. The main hotline atGadgetLab should be blinged out. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Solar Keys is the music for our theme.
You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:
If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also use the Overcast or Pocket Casts app, as well as searching for Gadget Lab. If you do not prefer using an app, you can find us by using the app on your phone. We’re on Spotify too. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.
What Happens at Twitter Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees Say Out: An Empirical Example from the Silicon Valley of Silicon Valley
This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email [email protected] with any questions.
So usually, on this podcast, we’re going to try to bring people news from around the tech industry, give a more comprehensive sense of what’s happening in Silicon Valley. Right now, not a single person in Tech cares about anything except what is happening in San Francisco atTwitter.
So what we’re going to do is talk to them, like have a normal interview. But instead of playing you their voice, which would de-anonymize them and risk getting them in trouble or getting them fired, we are going to transcribe what they say. We will feed the words back into a text-to-speech Artificial Intelligence generator, and then give you a version of their voice.
But before we get to those interviews, let’s just go over what’s been happening at Twitter this week. It has been crazy for a long time. Casey, on Friday, after our emergency podcast, you reported that Twitter engineers inside the company had been instructed to print out the last 30 to 60 days’ worth of code that they had written, for review.
How many days of code do you need to remove a code? Why does it matter if you’re a human or a robot?
I like that when we started this show, we said we would never put on AI voices unless we had a really good reason and a really limited capacity. And now, twice in five episodes —
You were wrong about this being a robot-hosted show and you were also wrong when you stated that this wouldn’t be filled with real people. There are two strikes for the man.
Yeah. Sometimes as a reporter, you get a tip that sounds so silly that you think it couldn’t possibly be true. When I got the tip that the people at Elon were telling people to print their last 30 to 60 days of code, I didn’t believe it.
Two of the sources that I use are not sure if that is right. OK? But then, I start texting around, start getting on the phone with some folks, and then the two people that told me that I was wrong came back to me and said, oh my god, he’s actually asking people to print out their code!
So why is this funny? Why does this interest you? This is a weird way to evaluate how good someone is as a software engineer. How much code is written by a person not usually used in evaluating them.
If you show up with 100 pages of code, that is not a good thing. Do you think you did better for the company by eliminating some code? Sort of cleaning it up. So —
Also, who is the author of the code? Like, it’s not like — like, I was surprised that the coding programs actually have a Print button in them. Because that’s, like, not what you’re bringing to your daily review of your code.
Why do we need a blue subscription to verify my code? A tweet from an engineer at a tech company, and a senator at the Tevatron in Los Alamos
The FTC plans to audit the company this quarter, we’re told, and employees have doubts that Twitter has the necessary documentation in place to pass inspection. One person says the FTC’s compliance is concerning.
Two hours later, everyone on the social network gets the new notification. It’s like, change of plans. Elon and his folks, they still want to see your code. If you printed out any code, we need you to shred it.
The boss in charge doesn’t know what he’s doing and everyone is just kind of laughing at him. It is not like things that happen at a big tech company.
It’s not. Now, one thing that we should say is that the Elon folks are obsessed with figuring out who is a good engineer at the company, right? So Elon very much worships at the altar of the engineer. He thinks of himself as an engineer.
And so I’ve talked to folks who are getting calls late at night from random Tesla engineers, saying things like, who’s really good on your team? Who are the top performers? The low performers, who are they?
And so this code printout exercise, as ridiculous as it seems, was all part of this sort of evaluation system where they’ve been trying to figure out, who at this company do we need to keep in order to keep the service running?
Who can we let go of? That is sort of a secret part of this. OK, so we have this code printing fiasco. You reported on Sunday that there was a proposal to tie verifications to blue subscriptions.
We don’t know how many people are using the service. The company has never released a metric. What we know is that 89 percent of this company’s revenues comes from digital advertising, and the bulk of the rest comes from of selling access to their API.
Yeah. Stephen King, author of the horror novel, asked if it was possible to pay 20 a month to keep his blue check. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
Wait, let me just say, Stephen King has written about some of the most terrifying horrors imaginable, and nothing scared him more than the idea of paying $20 a month for his verification badge.
A decade ago, someone at the news company where I worked put my name on a list and I had a checkmark by my name.
Oprah’s Person, but it’s not About That. Social Networks, Social Media, Verification, and the Tradeoff between Social Media and Twitter
The person is important, but it’s not about that. Oprah joined Twitter many, many years ago, and so did many other people that were already assumed to be Oprah on the social networking site. And so Twitter needed a way to basically allow users to tell whether the person they were talking to was actually the person they purported to be.
Yeah, and I think it’s fair to say, this is a necessary feature of the platform. It’s a feature on every platform that’s social, right? You need a way to say, this is the real Oprah, and that is not the real Oprah.
Right. I agree, people have come to see these checkmarks next to your name as kind of a status symbol over the years, right? Like, it means that you’re someone, it means that it —
Right, exactly. I believe the idea coming out of the war room was that verified people would pay for the privilege because they cared so much about being verified and staying verified. And so that’s where we get this idea of $20 a month for verification.
Now, that almost immediately results in, as you said, an entire Twitter timeline meltdown, where users are saying, no way will we pay $20 a month. That’s more than I pay for Netflix. That’s more than I pay for YouTube.
And so for them, this seems like a way to make money, while at the same time, kind of punishing the blue checkmarks, which is just very, very different from how other social media platforms treat their creators.
And I think it would be good for Twitter and most social networks if anybody wanted to optionally verify their identity. That would be good for the credibility of the whole system. But it does come with a lot of questions that, so far, have mostly gone unanswered.
It does create a lot of economic value for people like you and me. It does matter to us. News organizations pay for all kinds of software solutions that help them do various things. It might be possible for the social network to be part of that.
Now, apparently, Elon did say something, like they’re going to have maybe some sort of separate legacy verification program for — I don’t know — government entities that aren’t going to pay the $8 a month. So there’s still a lot of details to be worked out here.
Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees Speak Out: What Will They Tell Us About Video Social Networks in the Next Five-Year Future?
For me, it’s back at it again at the Krispy Kreme, one of the great moments of culture for the past 10 years. The culture has also moved on. The code base for Vine is a decade old, and the idea of it becoming a TikTok competitor is a steep hill.
I would also say, like, not an immediate revenue driver, right? That’s something they’re just going to have to put a ton of effort into. You are attempting to start a new social network inside of the popular messaging service. So that’s a huge, heavy lift. I believe it would be fun to have a very popular American video network that isn’t owned by Facebook or YouTube. But we’ll just have to see if they can do it.
The Challenge of Rumors: Two Tweets a Day a Week to Stop Worrying, and Why Do Some Millennials are Shocking?
That is correct. They’re being told, you have days to ship this. If this does not ship by this date, in some cases, a date next week, you will be fired. If the deadline is past one hour, you will lose your job.
So people are sleeping very little. They are sleeping in their offices, and frankly, some of them are terrified. Some of them are here on work visas. If they lose this job, they have 60 days to find another job, or they’re out of the country. People who have these jobs are in a much more serious situation.
You are welcomed to the series, “Hardfork.” Right now it is at 10:00 AM Pacific. How’s your day going so far? Anything notable happen today?
Every day for the last week there is the same cycle as everyone wakes up to panicked messages via various different channels. Most people were smart enough to switch off of chat and into other channels. We have had zero communication from anyone internally so we are trying to chase rumors.
In fact, there has been more external communication to Twitter.com than there has been to Twitter, the employees. Everything is based on rumors. We wake up. We cross our fingers and check all of our channels to see if we can get through another day.
Stressful. I’m currently working a job that I want to keep but I’m also looking for a way out and I feel like I have zero support or acknowledgment from the people above me. Already, there have been multiple rumor mill-based scares.
The layoffs are supposed to happen on Monday. They didn’t happen. Now, the rumor has it it’s going to be Friday. It is tiring. I know we are all paid really well.
Most of us have some savings to sit on. Some people don’t. As we enter a really tough hiring market in tech, it is nerve-racking not to know. And also, we’re entering the holidays.
Life Under Musk Two Tweets Employees Speaker Out: An Investigation into the Commodity of a New CEO (Although there is a Game Plan)
Just to emphasize that, there is a new CEO at your company. Most of the C-suite has either been fired or resigned, and you have not received one email that says, here’s who’s in charge, and here’s the game plan for the next few days.
That is correct. We have received zero information, other than what gets trickled down to us. Comms is very sparse. There is really nobody answering, even messages in the company-wide channels.
And so what is that like, when, day to day, you wake up, and it’s almost like a scavenger hunt across seven different apps, just to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing?
You have probably heard, and you have been reporting on some of the infamous code reviews. I have seen people who said code was written by them, but didn’t credit anyone who collaborated with them, in hopes that they would be on a preferred status list.
Absolutely. What they are asking for is volume, not quality. So everybody is sharing every little bit of code they have ever written, no matter how insignificant or garbage it is. [SIGHS]
Life Under Musk Two Tweetees Speak Out: Which Work Are You Currently Working? A Message from an Employee from Blind
Yeah, I reported on a message from a manager who said, basically, if you don’t know what you’re working on right now, work on something. Work on anything.
I want to read you a post that someone had sent me from Blind. You can go to Blind and log in with your work email, and then have anonymous chats about what is happening at your company.
And multiple people have sent me this post. And I wonder if you’ve seen it. And I’m not going to read the whole thing. But the headline is “I can’t cope.”
The Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees Speak Out: What Happens If We Can’t Get Out of the Work? A Response to Elon
And it reads, “I’m on the 24/7 team working to make all of Elon’s ridiculous dreams come true. If we fail to deliver, management will fire us even if it is outside their control. If we don’t work at weekends, we’re gone. If we leave, we are gone.
People are working ridiculous hours. I work 20 hours a day at full speed. I’m waking up in the night to attend status calls. I worry about it even when I am not working. I am not able to cope. I’m an absolute mess. I’m at a breaking point. This is after just a few days of Elon.”
There are two different groups of people at the social media site, the people who are ignored until they are fired and the people who are pulled into these task forces. I think the better place is to be in the people who are being ignored and will be fired.
What do we need in order to find work in this country? The heart goes out to the person who’s looking for a new life in the country
My heart goes out to this person. I hope they can find gainful employment while they are trying to sleep and take care of themselves, applying to jobs in that four hours.
And I sincerely hope that there is care taken for people who are on visas. All of the people who are here on visas don’t know what will happen to them. And they have not been told anything.
So this is more than just privileged tech people crying because we’re moving from one six-figure salary to another six-figure salary. These are people who are looking for a new life in this country and trying to find gainful employment, they are highly skilled.
Twitter is going through a difficult time: It’s not the wrong way to go through it all, but the need to do something about it
Twitter has gone through phases in its lifetime. But at least leading up to this whole fiasco, I can’t think of a better place to work. People were respectful. People were honest. There were legitimate goals to be had by people.
So I do not think, though, it is because engineers and people are sitting on their hands. The way this company is structured, it is nearly impossible to get anything done if you try to get the appropriate approvals by going through Byzantine processes and not being told how things are changing. So there is some truth to that statement. This is the wrong way to deal with it.
And I wonder, as you’ve been going through all this, if you have been thinking about the degree to which that could be at risk, and what fears you might have around the future of Twitter the service?
I would like to think that everyone on TWo is going to leave in protest. Many people may stay in the situation. It will be interesting to see who stays.
Like Griffin, some Twitter users have already begun migrating from the platform — Counter Social is another popular alternative — following layoffs that began Friday that reportedly affected about half of Twitter’s 7,500-employee workforce. They fear a breakdown of moderation and verification could lead to free-for-all on the internet which has been the main conduit for reliable communications.
Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees Speaker Out. A Tale of Two Jobs and a Culture of Loneliness and Uncertainty
Scared and relieved. It will be frightening not to have income. But at the same time, I hope that all of us who get fired will just get to chill out for a day or so, and then wake up on a couple of days later and say, all right, got to get that resume out there. Got to be energized about these other jobs, because right now it’s sucking the life out of us.
Uncertainty. There are people who are not certain if they should keep doing what they are doing. And that pile of unknowns, along with the things that have been reported on, which is all the information we really have, it leads to this cognitive dissonance and just general constant stress.
In the lowest parts of engineering, people could raise privacy concerns or misuse of new features. And their only job is to write random code that no one’s ever going to see, just like the piping behind the scenes. And the company just always kind of had a culture of letting people speak to these things. More than once, it caught us off guard on issues prior to them ever reaching the public.
Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees-Speak Out: What if he Came in and He Had a Bad Experience?
That is complicated because nobody really knew. I suppose there was a groupthink that this guy was not a nice person. You know, there were a lot of people that were of the thought that this should probably have been banned a long time ago for his behavior. And everything just sort of came from there.
I suppose he has been more aggressive in attaching himself to political viewpoints and their talking points. He will lean into it if it serves him.
I will say, having been there for a number of years, the company has grown in a lot of ways, and some not so good. I don’t disagree with people when they say there’s probably too many managers, too many engineers. Maybe the delivery is taking too long. Management has always been the company’s weakest point.
You don’t go through any change without some big structural change. What was the point if he came in and did the same thing?
Life Under Must Seek Two Twitter Employees Talk Out: The Computation of the Emotional State in the e-Mailing System
OK. The idea is that the platform should be moving faster than it has been. We’ve been hearing that Elon is saying, ship this thing by next Monday or else you are going to be fired. Is hearing you have a three- or four-day deadline a problem for you as an engineer?
I lose my mind. It is normal to have a three to four-day deadline on something, we need to have this done by Friday. That’s a little stressful. Might take a couple more hours. Need to get it done. Makes sense.
The sheer scale is the main differentiating factor. I wouldn’t get asked at work to completely revamp Twitter Blue by Friday. That is completely absurd.
And the sheer number of systems that need to be touched on, the number of engineers that have to be dragged in, that’s like raising the Titanic from the bottom of the ocean.
It is not just a certain set of code that needs to be written. You also have to coordinate across a lot of people, right?
Yeah. Well, if you take a look at the feature sets that he wants to add in, you’ll see that blue check users are ranked higher than others, where that ranking occurs in the stack. They have to completely reshift how that entire process works. We need to figure out what services are in the company.
Yeah. Like if somebody had come to you and said, we want to redo Twitter Blue, what would be the time frame that you would be given that would make you say, yeah, that seems like a reasonable amount of time to do that?
Depending on the situation. It could take quite a while because the platform is very slow, if it requires tons of infrastructure changes. We are more concerned with reliability than moving fast.
But feature-wise, I guess if I had to give a round-about time frame, there would probably be something that could possibly be deployed within a quarter to two quarters.
Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees Speak Out: Is It Really Necessary to Test? And what should the Bitcoin Bros aren’t
And not only is this an engineering problem, it’s a social problem. We need to do testing. We need to figure out how this can be abused. What are some things people are 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?
Right. The major releases of a social network are often trying to figure out what their features are and how to change them. It appears that these deadlines may be so short that the release of this stuff would be unaffected by testing or scrutiny, and thus it is possible to figure out what could go wrong. They’re just going to be set loose.
Yeah. There’s one section about user privacy and privacy data. And it’s basically, we’re not doing anything with user data, so we don’t worry about that. And then now it’s just a blue check on a profile.
Life Under Musk and Vine: Delivering Vine to the Environment Network? What Are You All Proposing to Make Of Musk And His Inner Circle?
So there’s a couple of things. It depends on where you are in the leadership stack. The one overarching message that got communicated was to find something that you like. Hopefully, Musk likes it.
Think about it. He wants it to be done within a week if you present him with an idea. And you’ve basically just sacrificed every team around you.
That’s right, God. I’m curious what you make of the various product changes that have been floated or proposed by Elon Musk and his inner circle, such as the charging $8 a month for Twitter verification, bringing back Vine. What do you make of those proposals? Do you think they are good ideas?
He made one of the first decisions he made, redirecting the log-out view to the Explore page. I know for certain that we may be able to serve ads to people who are not log in, but my understanding of the goal is that we might be able to do that.
If you are not already signed up, they will show you a bunch of messages that might encourage you to create an account. And if you linger and browse through some tweets, maybe you see some ads, right? A lot of people would agree with the change he made.
The Vine one, it’s not the worst idea. I mean, the cynical part of me says, too little, too late. You know? TikTok is TikTok, and that’s a mighty hill to climb.
But sure. All of the original content from vine is here. The nostalgia factor is huge and gives us a foothold to launch something.
We have the media, and we have been trying to build a product like that for a while. The tech company has at least tried. Is this something we can do? There have been mock-ups.
Life Under Musk Two Twitter Employees Speak Out: What Will They Ever Learn? How Do They Won’t Know What They Are Expecting?
It would be the most boring. You could probably make a really interesting ethereal horror movie out of just constantly walking around with nothing.
There is no communication. So the only people talking are people in a corner. It is not like the whole company went all-hands to learn what is happening. It’s everybody asking, are we ever going to see him? Should I keep doing my work? They don’t even serve lunch anymore.
We don’t know what will happen to your job as we record this. Is it something that you would want to be working at in three months? Are you ready to be somewhere else?
Culture is real. I mean, culture seeps through the product. For all of Twitter’s faults, a lot of the way the company behaved was because people cared so much. And that can be infuriating in its own ways.
How a micro-Blogging site turns into a black hole: What happens when we break it? A comment by Kevin Roose
I mean, people have seen this. So now we’re moving into the phase equivalent to “move fast and break things,” with no care for the people who are using it, which just sort of defeats the point.
He’s reading the news for info about work hours. And he’s been wildly speculating about what kind of labor law lawsuits are going to come out.
According to an internal Slack message posted by a Twitter employee and viewed by CNN, Musk has shown little fear of the FTC regulators overseeing the company’s multiple, legally binding consent agreements committing it to maintaining a robust cybersecurity program and producing written privacy impact reports before launching any new products or services, a requirement that could cover Twitter Blue.
You can send any scoops about what is happening at the micro-Blogging site toCasey if you want. Kevin is his email address. The name of the man is Roose.
“Hard Fork” with the help of a new artist (with a large part of the music by Jeffrey Miranda, Bethe Anastasi, and Carly Hadamard)
“Hard Fork” is produced by Davis Land. We’re edited by Paula Szuchman. This episode was fact checked by Caitlin Love. The show was created by a person named Schureppel.
Original music by Dan Powell, Elisheba Ittoop, and Marion Lozano. Special thanks to Jeffrey Miranda, and other people.
Apple, Steve Jobs, and the Status of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification in the Post-PC Era: A Case Study in Musk’s Silicon Valley
At the time, Jobs had been developing personal computers for 20 years, his entire adult life. He was intimately familiar with the company he was suddenly running because he had founded it and led the team that created its flagship product. He left Apple and founded a new computer company with a different approach to the internet and operating systems. Plus, he was Steve Jobs. If anyone could quickly turn around the near-bankrupt computer giant, it would be him. It took him a long time to come up with a plan. While the iMac he showed to me in May would help bring Apple’s bottom line into the black, it wasn’t until the company introduced non-PC devices like the iPod in 2001 that it became a profit machine. And Apple’s post-PC future wasn’t even on Jobs’ road map in 1998.
Musk need not look farther than his own successful enterprises to realize the absurdity of his haste. The company had been five years old when he took over. Musk came up with a brilliant plan to turn the company around—but it didn’t post an annual profit until 2020, 17 years after incorporation. Musk deservedly gets a lot of credit for what Tesla has achieved—and for, among other things, his persistence. The other company owned by Musk is private and does not report earnings. It takes many years to launch a rocket ship, and it’s also important to keep in mind the dangers of cutting corners.
Musk and his company had not given public notice of the layoffs. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification statute only requires employers with at least 100 workers to report if they lay off 500 or more employees.
The email added that “to help ensure the safety” of employees and Twitter’s systems, the company’s offices “will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended.”
The company had a board of directors that he removed and installed himself as sole board member. On Thursday night, many Twitter employees took to Twitter to express support for each other — often simply tweeting blue heart emojis to signify Twitter’s blue bird logo — and salute emojis in replies to each other.
Barry C. White, a representative for the Employment Development Department, said no recent notifications have been received.
A class action lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of one employee who was laid off and three others who were locked out of their work accounts. The allegation is that the social networking site intends to lay off more workers and that it did not provide the required notice.
The layoffs come at a tough time for social media companies, as advertisers are scaling back and newcomers — mainly TikTok — are threatening the older class of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook’s parent company, recently posted its second quarterly revenue decline in history and its shares are trading at their lowest levels since 2015. Weak earnings reports from Microsoft and even Alphabet preceded Meta’s disappointing results.
Why is the Fed so excited about inflation? – Premarket stock market pricing after Powell’s decision to hike rates early in the next few months
A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here. You can listen to an audio version of the newsletter by clicking the same link.
At its upcoming meeting, what will the Federal Reserve do? Analysts can speculate all they want, but Fed officials say they will be using hard economic data to make their next decision.
The housing, labor, and inflation reports will have an outsize effect on the market as investors ponder how the reports will affect interest rates.
What is happening? No one can change the market because Federal Reserve Chair Powell did just that on Wednesday and caused stocks to plunge. “We have a ways to go,” said Powell of the Fed’s current hiking regime meant to fight persistent inflation. “It’s very premature, in my view, to think about or be talking about pausing.”
The central bank also doesn’t think inflation will start to fall back until next year. That will require more interest rate hikes in the coming months, warned policymakers.
The U.S. Economy, Wages, and Consumer Prices are Decreasing Despite a Strong September Employment Growth Rate, and Implications for Core Core PPCE
The October government report is expected to show the economy added 200,000 positions, down from last month, but still a very good number as demand for employment continues to exceedsupply of labor.
That means more cost of living. Businesses have to pay higher wages to attract employees and are able to charge more for their goods and services. The wage growth report will be watched closely by the Fed. Wages went up 5% in September from a year ago.
There is a possible upside: Another jobs report in December is expected ahead of the Fed meeting. If both reports show a downward trajectory in employment, that is enough to appease Fed officials even if the unemployment rate remains historically low.
Core CPI prices, which exclude oil and food, rose 0.6% in September month-over-month, matching August’s pace and coming in well above expectations of a 0.4% increase, not a great sign for the Fed. And analysts expect to see another large 0.5% increase in October.
PCE is a metric that reflects the prices of goods and services that consumers in the US purchase. The Fed believes the measure is more accurate than CPI because it accounts for a wider range of purchases from a broader range of buyers.
The Bank of England and the Current Lords & Peasants System for Who Has or Doesn’t Have a Blue Checkmark
Housing: The housing market has been deeply impacted by the Fed’s efforts to fight inflation, and is one of the first areas of the economy to show signs of cooling.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.95% last week, up from 3.09% just a year ago, and elevated borrowing costs are leading to a decline in demand.
“The housing market was very overheated for the couple of years after the pandemic as demand increased and rates were low,” said Powell on Wednesday. “We do understand that that’s really where a very big effect of our policies is.”
The Bank of England raised its interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point on Thursday in a bid to fight inflation.
A two-year recession would be longer than the one that followed the 2008 global financial crisis, though the Bank of England said that any declines in GDP heading into 2024 would likely be relatively small.
The WARN Act requires any company with more than 100 employees to give 60 days written notice if they plan to cut 50 or more jobs at a single site of employment.
In a tweet, the world’s richest man used an expletive to describe his assessment of “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark.” He said that there was power to the people. Blue is $8/month.
The Rise of Hate Speech on Social Media in the DR Congolese after Musk’s Online Dealing with the Civil-Rights Movement
(GIS), Mondelez International (MDLZ), Pfizer (PFE) and Audi (AUDVF) have reportedly joined a growing list of companies hitting pause on their Twitter advertising in the wake of Musk’s acquisition.
When billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter and pledged that “the bird is freed” last week, Felix Ndahinda saw a threat rising on the horizon.
Even if academics have not yet been able to point out its contribution, it is clear that the rise of conspiracy theories and hate speech on social media could have made the situation more complicated in the Democratic Republic of Congolese. “It is a very difficult thing to work out the casual link from a tweet to violence,” says Ndahinda. Many actors are making public calls for others to commit crimes.
There’s still no clarity on how the company will proceed. Musk has met with civil-rights leaders about his plan to put a moderation council in charge of establishing policies on hate speech and harassment. Users who had been banned before Musk’s takeover of the company would not be reinstated until a process had been set up for allowing them to do so, Musk has said.
It would have been difficult to enforce restrictions on the millions of users who use the platform, if accounts were suspended for including banned websites in their profile. Not only links but attempts to bypass the ban by spelling out “instagram dot com” could have led to a suspension, the company said.
There are implications for how social media can be used when the public conversation is split across many different platforms. It’s making life more complicated, both for threat actors trying to spread propaganda and amplify polarization, and for the people trying to investigate those threat actors, whether they are journalists or researchers or the companies themselves.
James Piazza is a terrorism researcher at Pennsylvania State University and he is afraid of people who use inflammatory speech on social media. “That’s the situation where you can have more violence.”
The researchers at Digital Planet tracked hate speech before and after Musk bought the company. They used a data stream from the platform to make this happen. The firehose is a feed of every public post on the platform. The group used the same approach with previous studies, including looking at toxicity on the social media site.
Although it is an acquisition, it isn’t always full of Musk fans. That means it’s a much less forgiving environment for Musk. Like, an early subset of Twitter users are Something Awful forum goons — the most prominent of whom is Dril — and they love fucking with people. Many people didn’t like Musk going out with a bang by pretending to be him due to the fact that it would make him mad. It probably did. Certainly, that would explain why his very first policy change was to increase punishment for impersonation.
KathyGriffin was suspended from her account after changing her screen name to Musk. She told a Bloomberg reporter that she had also used his profile photo.
“I guess not ALL the content moderators were let go? On Mastodon, an alternative social media platform where she set up an account last week, she joked.
Valiente, Twitter, Safety, Integrity, and Democracy: Addressing Musk’s psycho drama with the AP, CNN and The AP
On Saturday, when she was campaigning for Democrats, an actor named Valiente took Musk’s screen name and posted a series of retweeted messages in support of them. “Okey-dokey. I’ve had fun and I think I made my point,” she tweeted afterwards.
In the US, Canada, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, the service would first be available. However, it was not available Sunday and there was no indication when it would go live. Esther Crawford told The AP it is coming “soon but it hasn’t launched yet.”
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, sought to assuage such concerns in a tweet Friday. He said the company’s front-line content moderation staff was the group least affected by the job cuts.
For Perez, the matter at hand isn’t simply the job losses that have decimated his former coworkers, nor the ability for people to say what they want on Twitter. It’s about upholding and protecting democracy. I don’t know if he understands the degree of social responsibility that hangs on his shoulders, as well as the harm that can come from social media platforms.
Perez is a board member at the OSET Institute, which is a nonpartisan group devoted to election security and integrity, and he is worried that the drama surrounding corporate takeover is sucking up all the oxygen in the room. He says that the Musk psycho drama is resulting in some inadequate attention on election-related issues.
“How he treats pressure from countries like Saudi Arabia and India—I think those are key indicators of where he’s going with the platform,” says David Kaye, former UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and clinical professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.
Lurking is not doomscrolling: a simple strategy to deal with the complexity and chaos of new tweeters on Twitter
A small group of people are the creators of the social media site. According to internal company research viewed by Reuters, heavy users who tweet in English “account for less than 10 percent of monthly overall users, but generate 90 percent of all tweets and half of global revenue.”
The journalists in this case dispute that their posts violated the rules of the platform, and because of that they were not required to take their posts down.
Musk said that small talk feels like it is coming from his own mind. In Tiny Talk Town, we all talk about the same thing: Ehren Musk.
In the workplace, quiet quitting is rejecting the burden of going above and beyond, no longer working overtime in a way that enriches your employer but depletes your own metaphorical coffers. On Twitter, it’s about not giving more to a platform than most people can expect to get back. If you want to stick with it, you need to find something else to use it on.
So active users are a noisy bunch, and it would be easy for, say, an electric car entrepreneur who follows a disproportionate number of extremely active “blue checks” on Twitter to mistake his own Twitter experience for everyone’s experience. Same goes for reporters. Nearly half of the users on the social media site use less than five times a month, and most of their posts are replies. They watch current events or live sports and then go about their lives. They are called lurkers.
Lurking is not doomscrolling, a phrase that took hold when people found themselves stuck at home and grasping at information on social media. The choice to sit back and observe for a while is a simplistic approach to dealing with the complexity and chaos of New TWITTER. Open the app or browser tab if you want to check in on Musk’s new toy. It is a good idea to send a retweet and then stop. During basketball games, keep an eye on it. Use DMs if you have to, then direct those message threads elsewhere. Save your most original thoughts for another time, another place.
Are Twitter employees unhappy with Wall Street? The case of Elon Musk, whose Twitter empire is loathed by advertisers and regulators
Elon Musk’s management of Twitter, including the banning of multiple journalists, has “severely damaged” market sentiment around Tesla, and risks sparking a backlash from advertisers and consumers, a Wall Street analyst warned on Monday.
Now, Twitter did set up Tips — a way to send cash to people you like — but it doesn’t take a cut of that money. It takes a cut of Super Follows revenue, but that money isdwarfed by the fees taken by Apple for in-app purchases.
Even if there was an economic downturn, I am not sure that a lot of advertisers would go back to someone with that attitude. The open question is whether users want to stay in a place that has just received a new layer of fraudulent activity. Billionaire Mark Cuban has already complained that the influx of new checkmarked users has made his mentions miserable. Cuban’s thoughts are one reason people stay on the platform — drive him off, and Twitter is less valuable.
The employee pointed to the debacle of the relaunch of the micro-blogging site, which resulted in brands being impersonated and dozens of top advertisers leaving the platform.
For banks, the debt offloading means taking a loss. Banks may choose to hang on to the debt for a while to see whether the market conditions change. But if Twitter is obviously shitting the bed, unloading that debt gets even harder. Musk is the richest man in the world, so banks may be willing to negotiate terms for his debt repayment. But I do wonder how long they want to hold these loans and who might buy them. If banks can’t place the debt, that probably does make it difficult for any other leveraged buy-outs in tech to get done.
In Europe, a major concern is the fate of Twitter’s six-to-eight person team in Brussels, which worked on European policy and was the main point of contact with regulators working on upcoming legislation that could affect the entire platform. Only two people remain, say two people with knowledge of the matter.
There is no centralized list of who has been fired. Employees have been using the messaging app Slack to see if their colleagues are still working. In addition to Dublin, other European offices are affected by layoffs. Social media posts show that employees in London have also been let go. Some employees in other European hubs may have also been affected.
A Twitter Disruption Event with Musk at the White House: The Mastodon Open Source Alternative to Twitter Despite Musk’s Takeover
It’s clear that we can’t rely on Musk’s Twitter to provide a safe, open forum. There needs to be new, not-for-profit social networks run by boards who are responsible for considering the public’s interest when making critical decisions. And many of the people who have these skills have just been laid off from their jobs. In addition to the mass exodus from Twitter since Musk’s takeover, there have been layoffs at a number of tech and journalism companies lately, including Facebook and CNN, with more coming at The Washington Post. Some of these professionals should work together to create new social platforms designed to provide the truly open town hall we so desperately need.
In the past week alone, one of the world’s most influential social networks has laid off half its workforce; alienated powerful advertisers; blown up key aspects of its product, then repeatedly launched and un-launched other features aimed at compensating for it; and witnessed an exodus of senior executives.
Hours after the gray badges launched on Wednesday as a way to help users differentiate legitimate celebrity and branded accounts from accounts that had merely paid for a blue check mark, Musk abruptly tweeted that he had “killed” the feature, forcing subordinates to explain the reversal.
The account’s very next tweet, a day and nine hours later, said exactly the opposite: “To combat impersonation, we’ve added an ‘Official’ label to some accounts.”
“@elonmusk, from one entrepreneur to another, for when you have your customer service hat on. I just spent too much time muting all the newly purchased checkmark accts in an attempt to make my verified mentions useful again,” tweeted billionaire Mark Cuban.
Musk, in an event for advertisers held this week, pleaded with brands to keep using the platform as a result of a growing number of companies pausing ads. In the event, Musk sought to appear magnanimous in accepting responsibility for the company’s performance.
Eugen Rochko looks exhausted. The German programmer is the co- founder of Mastodon, a distributed alternative to Twitter that has shot up in popularity in the last few weeks due to Musk’s ownership of the platform.
Mastodon, a small, alternative, and open source platform was appealing to some after Big Tech dominated social media for a decade. The platform operates in a different way from services like Facebook and requires volunteers to maintain and moderate the server. Mastodon is part of the Fediverse network of servers, they run open source software.
In just a few weeks, Mastodon grew to 2.5 million users, eight times its previous size, according to a post by the platform’s founder, Eugen Rochko.
Since Musk took over Twitter, Rochko has been working long hours to keep his own server, Mastodon. Social, running, while also preparing a major upgrade to Mastodon, but he took time to videochat with WIRED from his home in Germany. The conversation has been edited to make it clearer.
People want to hear that it’s been a great success, but I don’t want to be part of it. There are more fires to put out. It’s incredibly stressful. I’m pulling 14-hour workdays, sleeping very little, and eating very little.
The whole story coincides with the process of releasing a new version of the Mastodon software. You have to put a lot of focus into that. And then suddenly, you also have to deal with responding to press inquiries and running social media accounts to take advantage of the opportunity.
It was good at a goal level. I would like to lean back and enjoy the fact that many other people are using Mastodon like Stephen Fry. I can’t enjoy that because I have time to do other things. It has been an unprecedented increase in funds, as a result of new Patreon donations in the past 10 days.
Twitter Cannot Take the Place of Facebook, Google, or Apple: Why It Hasn’t Happened Since Musk Takes Over Social Media
Musk downplayed the size of the ad buy, though his company bought a package to advertise its Starlink internet service ont he social networking site.
“I’ve always thought that a move to a subscription business would make sense for Twitter … it’s never been a great advertising platform,” said Larry Vincent, associate professor of marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Twitter’s advertising business has long been smaller than that of rivals like Facebook, in part because it didn’t offer the same level of user targeting.
According to data from Pathmatics, 625 of the top 1000 advertisers pulled their money from social media in January.
In an op-ed published in the New York Times last week, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, who left the company earlier this month, said the company’s failure to adhere to Google and Apple’s app store rules could be “catastrophic.” The app stores have previously removed social media apps for failing to protect their users from harmful content, and Roth suggested that Twitter had already begun to receive calls from app store operators following Musk’s takeover. Apple’s app store’s head, Phil Schiller, deleted his account on the weekend.
Even with all of the attention captured on the internet, there is no guarantee that it will translate into payments or other growth.
Truth Social: How Social Media Becomes a Platform for Investigating Minority Issues in the Literary and Political Divisions of the U.S.
Musk and his allies promote the “Twitter Files” as bombshell revelations which show that conservatives were muzzled because of their political views. That’s a claim that has been made by Republicans for a long time, despite the fact that social media companies do not censor them. The internal researchers at Twitter found that the company’s algorithms favor right-leaning political content.
“People didn’t have much of an anticipation for Truth Social. The initial launch of it was mocked by many people, says the director of the Algorithmic Transparency Institute. “People are using it. It is also not just people shouting into a void. People are interacting.
Many users followed suit, tweeting short eulogies for the platform. Dan’s platform ontwitter allowed him to excel in his personal and professional lives.
“I built this following for myself, and that got me some of my first job offers just in the copywriting space. He says that he paid his bills using that method.
Through copywriting, Sheehan was able to dedicate time to writing his novel, a project that was made a reality in part by crowdfunding through his large Twitter following.
The fact I was able to keep the lights on, the bills paid, and have my book reach a larger audience than traditional means, wasn’t done through traditional means, he says.
“For the longest time, creative fields have been cornered by the wealthy, or the children of the wealthy… This audience was created with the help of the people holding the keys to that.
Twitter also helped Azucena Rasilla, an arts and community reporter for The Oaklandside, to gain a platform and open a door into the journalism industry outside of traditional routes.
It’s disappointing that the diversity problem continues and I don’t know how those communities will find each other… Twitter was such a way to see it right there and start following people and start reading other people’s work,” she says.
The End of Twitter: Shadowbanned by Musk, and the Inadequacy of “Twitter Files”: Weiss, Mastodon and Discord
Wendi Muse was an active member of ‘Disability’ for many years. She spent the pandemic posting resources to help people get masks, as well as sending some from the personal stockpile she had amassed. She noticed that the community of people with immune deficiency needed more N95 masks.
In the last six months, Muse has sent out more than 12,000 masks on his own from his living room. She doesn’t think she would have reached so many people if it wasn’t for her reach on social media.
“It has been crucial because it’s been a way not only to learn more about the pandemic, myself and my family, but also to reach out to other people who are less fortunate and maybe either don’t have the information, or don’t have the access [to these resources].”
For Muse, and many others, the potential end of Twitter would be a big loss, even as alternative sites like Discord or Mastodon have seen a recent influx in new users.
“I think that uneasiness of not knowing is making it more difficult, especially for people who are disabled, elderly, who maybe don’t have social networks in person right now.”
Growing criticism of Musk culminated in Sunday’s poll that served as an effective, if unscientific, referendum on Musk’s handling of the company since he closed his purchase of Twitter in late October.
The option to allow users to determine if the company has limited how many people can see their posts is in the works, according to Musk. In doing so, Musk is seizing on an issue that has been a cause celebre for some conservatives who claim the social network has suppressed or banned their content.
If you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason and how to appeal will be shown in a software update, Musk said on Thursday. He did not provide any more information.
His announcement came amid a new release of internal Twitter documents on Thursday, sanctioned and cheered by Musk, that once again placed a spotlight on the practice of limiting the reach of certain, potentially harmful content — a common practice in the industry that Musk himself has seemingly both endorsed and criticized.
Weiss’ tweets follow the first “Twitter Files” drop earlier this month from journalist Matt Taibbi, who shared internal Twitter emails about the company’s decision to temporarily suppress a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden and his laptop, which largely corroborated what was already known about the incident.
In both cases, the internal documents appear to have been provided directly to the journalists by Musk’s team. Musk shared a thread from Weiss on Friday and added, ” TheTwitter Files, Part Duex!!” along with two popcorn emojis.
Trump wasn’t the right guy: coverage of his tweets and his bedside table with two replica guns and the Pepe the Frog meme
Weiss offered several examples of right-leaning figures who had moderation actions taken on their accounts, but it’s not clear if such actions were equally taken against left-leaning or other accounts.
Around the time Trump was inaugurated in 2017, I said to colleagues in the newsroom where I worked at the time that we shouldn’t cover everything he said or tweeted. Previously, a president’s every word was assumed to be a carefully chosen signal of future policy, and was reported as such. Many things were said in order to get a rise out of people. Reporting on them just fed the flames, I argued. An editor tried to push back. “He’s the president,” he said, or words to that effect. “What he says is news.”
Here, for instance, we saw a slew of rapid-response news stories about Musk’s tweet on December 11 that “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” a dig at the government’s former chief infectious disease expert, as well as at gender diversity. Here are some more facts about the picture of his bedside table with two replica guns and the far right Pepe the Frog meme.
This was how coverage of Trump worked. The right-wing media treated his obvious egomania and lack of interest in grasping basic policy as evidence that he was not able to be president, while the liberal media reported on how a person like this would only succeed in bringing themselves down in flames. There was plenty of good reporting going on at the same time, but these polarizing accounts tended to dominate the conversation. The public was forced to understand what was happening across the country through incompatible narratives about the behavior of a man in White House.
What is good news for Twitter? The role of social media in tackling high-stakes social media and the porn/tumblr scandal
Is this good news around the world? I’ll tell you why it’s good news to me. It will make Twitter2 quittable, but it’s pleasing to see that things are what they are. For a long period of time, there has been a slouched toward porn on the micro-Blogging site. People bar their souls, posting thirst traps, coyly subtweeting, and of course negging and prodding, and simultaneously hiding dopamine and cortisol, are just some of the salacious meme in what was already an orgy of hyperstimulation.
Porn isn’t my cup of tea, but you have to admire how cunning it is. Timothy Morton might call it a hyperobject, something that is ungraspable in its ubiquity and scale. In effect, porn online behaves like a predator plant, saturating the pixels with flesh colors, choking off biodiverse memes, and sowing vast digital acreage with salt.
Tumblr, which started as an artsy microblogging service in 2007, lost its allure when it was overrun by porn five years later. Almost immediately after it was founded in 2009, chatrouette traded its lightheartedness for dick pics and leering goons. The platform for performers to post videos began in 2016 as a platform for porn created by sex workers.
But many tech journalists, social media experts and former Twitter employees say Musk’s claims are over-hyped, given that the documents shared so far largely corroborate what is already known about the messy business of policing a large social network.
Renée DiResta, research manager at the Internet Observatory, said that what she was seeing in the file was people who were confronting high-stakes events and trying to figure out what policies apply and how.
They are a collection of internal emails and conversations with employees of the company. So far they’ve covered the decision to ban Trump, Twitter’s short-lived decision to block a news story in October 2020 drawn from material on Hunter Biden’s laptop, and how the company limits the reach of accounts that break its rules, including some well-known right-wing users.
Musk has granted exclusive access to several independent journalists including Matt Taibbi, formerly of Rolling Stone, and Bari Weiss, a New York Times opinion columnist, who have to post about the documents on social media first.
The New York Post story about Hunter Biden, son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, allegedly had shady business dealings in Ukranian, was briefly blocked from being shared by users on the social network during the 2020 election.
The Post said it got the information from files on Hunter Biden’s laptop, which was also owned by Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon. At the time, it was unclear whether that material was authentic. Tech companies were angry over the Russian hack and the leak of Democratic National Committee emails, so they restricted the Post story.
Citing its rules against sharing hacked material containing private information, the company showed a warning to anyone who tried to post a link to the article saying it was “potentially harmful.” The New York Post’s account wasn’t allowed on social network sites until it deleted what it had said about the story. While Facebook was alarmed by the article, they didn’t go as far astweeting it. It allowed the link to be posted, but limited distribution of those posts while its outside fact-checkers reviewed the claims.)
The new policy caused a small online riot, with users of the social networking site denigrating it. Within hours, not only had the company backtracked, but all mentions of the less-than-day-old policy had been scrubbed from Twitter feeds and the company website. Anyone who was on the internet was able to see it. (Although if you missed it, I wouldn’t say you missed it, if you know what I mean.)
And it does not show any evidence that there was government involvement in the move to block the New York Post story, despite assertions by Musk and others.
He believes that everyone did what they were supposed to do and that there was no ill intent or hidden agendas. Mistakes were made.
He said he wished the internal files had been “released Wikileaks-style, with many more eyes and interpretations to consider.” He added: “There’s nothing to hide…only a lot to learn from.”
Melting the Spin: Musk is Using Twitter Files to Discredit Foes and Push-Conspiracy Theorem
There’s good reason to demand more information about how social media companies operate. She said that the decisions are often inscrutable. “These are platforms that shape public opinion, and so the question of how they’re moderated and how they’re designed is impactful.”
She said that the full picture needs more than the “anecdotes” Musk’s journalists are sharing, as it has so far focused exclusively on charged and partisan American political dramas.
To better understand the decision to ban Trump, for example, it would help to see discussions around the accounts of other world leaders who have not been kicked off the platform, she said.
“There is value in what has been revealed to the public but at the same time, it is reinforcing a perception in large part based on your pre-existing views as partisan individuals within the US,” DiResta said.
Framing the disclosures as secret knowledge plays particularly well on Twitter, said Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public.
His tweets triggered violent threats against both men. A person with knowledge of the situation said that Roth and his family were forced to flee their home.
“The current attacks on my former colleagues could be dangerous and doesn’t solve anything,” Dorsey wrote on Tuesday. “If you want to blame, direct it at me and my actions, or lack thereof.”
The CEO’s willingness to target people working to keep the platform’s users safe, including through the Twitter Files releases, is creating a “chilling effect,” according to one Trust and Safety Council member, who requested anonymity due to concerns of retaliation.
But with his drumbeat of Twitter Files releases and gleeful tweets dunking on the company’s former employees, Musk has successfully hijacked the conversation.
Twitter Suspension of the elonjet Account of Jack Sweeney and the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider
“It is being processed as punitive and sort of owning the last regime, as opposed to saying, ‘Here are things that we can see in these files and here is how it’s going to be done differently under our watch,'” DiResta said.
Jack Sweeney is the college student who runs the account called elonjet which uses public flight-tracking data to help find the location of a private jet. Sweeney has said Musk previously offered him money to take down the account, but Musk said in November, after he took control of Twitter, that he would allow it to stay online. The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN are some of the organizations that have suspended reporters. Even links to Mastodon have been blocked, with Twitter identifying the site as “potentially harmful.”
Musk had on Thursday banned CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, and The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell. Independent journalist and Insider columnist Linette Lopez was also banned.
Much of what we know about social media discourse is thanks to Twitter’s longtime policy of allowing free access to its data. It has made it a great place for researchers to study online behavior including fake news and conspiracy theories. Kate Starbird remembers how Twitter research dominated the field between 2010 and 2015.
Musk’s latest power moves are nothing short of dangerous. Tech and journalism workers, who are recently unemployed, should unite to create new healthier online spaces. We have nothing to lose but our dependence on the czar to set the terms of our public debates.
“Again, the suspension occurred with no warning, process or explanation — this time as our reporter merely sought comment from Musk for a story,” Buzbee said. By midday Sunday, Lorenz’s account was restored, as was the tweet she thought had triggered her suspension.
Most of the accounts were back early Saturday. One exception was Business Insider’s Linette Lopez, who was suspended after the other journalists, also with no explanation, she told The Associated Press.
The same day, she cited reports that Musk was reneging on severance for laid-off Twitter employees, threatening workers who talk to the media and refusing to make rent payments. Lopez described his actions as “classic Elon-going-for-broke behavior.”
Twitter is No More Broken than It Looks: The Damned Case of the O’Sena Suspension and the Disappearance of Spaces
The move sets “a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists all over the world are facing censorship, physical threats and even worse,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Sally Buzbee, the Washington Post’s executive editor, said that Drew Harwell was kicked out of the paper for reporting inaccurate information about Musk.
On Thursday, a CNN spokesman stated that the network would be reconsidering its relationship with the social network after they received an explanation for O’Sena’s suspension.
Matt Binder of the technology news outlet Mashable said he was banned on Thursday night after sharing a screenshot of O’ Sullivan’s post.
The screenshot showed a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department sent earlier Thursday to multiple media outlets, including the AP, about how it was in touch with Musk’s representatives about the alleged stalking incident.
High-profile accounts that broke the rules against hate speech or misinformation have been restored. He has said that he would suppress negative things by giving up some of the freedom of reach.
“The old regime at Twitter governed by its own whims and biases and it sure looks like the new regime has the same problem,” she tweeted “I oppose it in both cases.”
If the suspension leads to the exodus of the media organizations that are high up on the platform, then it would change the platform as we know it at the fundamental level.
CBS briefly shut down its activity on Twitter in November due to “uncertainty” about new management, but media organizations have largely remained on the platform.
“We all know news breaks on Twitter … and to now go after journalists really saws at the main foundational tent pole of Twitter,” Paskalis said. “Driving journalists off Twitter is the biggest self-inflicted wound I can think of.”
The suspensions may be the biggest red flag yet for advertisers, Paskalis said, some of which had already cut their spending on Twitter over uncertainty about the direction Musk is taking the platform.
On Thursday night, Twitter’s Spaces conference chat went down shortly after Musk abruptly signed out of a session hosted by a journalist during which he had been questioned about the reporters’ ousting. Musk later tweeted that Spaces had been taken offline to deal with a “Legacy bug.” Spaces came back late Friday.
“The people have spoken,” Musk wrote Friday night after his poll, pledging to restore the accounts he had falsely accused of sharing his “exact real-time” location.
The Harwell Campaign on Twitter after the Musk-TSLA Abuse of Political Freedom: Why Does Musk Swing? How Should I Step Down?
“It’s journalism,” Harwell wrote in his appeal, a copy of which was provided to CNN. Harwell added that his tweet did not include a “link to anyone’s private information.”
When asked about the whole affair by CNN, he explained that he had decided to just remove the Twitter account and move on from the episode.
The suspension of the journalists had been met with swift condemnation by news organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, United Nations, Democratic members of Congress and others.
“We believe banning journalists without consistent defensible standards or clear communication in an environment where many people believe free speech is at risk is too much for a majority of consumers to continue supporting Mr. Musk/TSLA, particularly people ideologically aligned with climate change mitigation,” Rusch wrote.
After Musk received broad blowback for suspending the Twitter accounts of several journalists, the billionaire took to his platform Sunday to pose a question: “Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will follow the results of the poll.
Replying to a tweet Sunday, in which MIT artificial intelligence researcher Lex Fridman said he would take the CEO job, Musk hinted he hasn’t been completely happy with his new gig.
Twitter has sought to stem some of its user losses by clamping down on sharing on its platform. The links to Mastodon began to be blocked last week. On Sunday it made the practice explicit, before a backlash forced it to drop it less than 24 hours later.
Musk promised that he wouldn’t make any more policy changes without an online survey of users, despite the immediate criticism that followed the decision.
Mainstream websites such as Facebook andInstagram were among those that were banned. It isn’t clear why those seven websites were included on the blacklist, but others such as Parler and TikTok are.
On Musk’s Pessimism, the Elephant in the Room, and his Decline to Twitter in the ‘Fast Lane to Failed’
In public banter with Twitter followers Sunday, Musk expressed pessimism about the prospects for a new CEO, saying that person “must like pain a lot” to run a company that “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy.”
Musk is the CEO of tesla and there are risks posed by his ownership and management on the stock.
The decision to ban several journalists including CNN’s Donie O’ Sullivan is a catalyst for the downgrade, according to Oppenheimer.
Ross Gerber, a shareholder in both Twitter and Tesla, said over the weekend that he hopes Musk finds a CEO for Twitter during the first quarter of 2023.
Given Musk’s propensity for tweeting, and his rapid decisions after previous polls, many expected he would have addressed the elephant in the room by now. But he has not done so. Musk didn’t communicate with the public for 18 hours on Monday.
The Evil Billionaire Attack: Where are the kings? Why are we here? How the evil billionaires look at the web and how they might attack their computers
In the field of information security, there’s a kind of vulnerability known as the evil maid attack whereby an untrusted party gains physical access to important hardware, such as the housekeeping staff coming into your hotel room when you’ve left your laptop unattended, thereby compromising it. We have here a new analog, just as capable of wrecking systems and leaking data. Call it the “evil billionaire attack” if you’d like. The weapon is money, and more specifically, the likelihood that when the moment arrives you won’t have enough of it to make a difference. The call came from inside the house.
Most ideas of any consequence are owned by people who have more money than you, so they are able to string them together into a network with specific intent of making the gravity inescapable. Founders and investors and excitable technology writers like myself frequently use the term “platform” to describe technical systems with granular components that can be used to compose new functionality, and the power sources propelling the technology industry find platforms particularly appealing when the bits can be monetized each time they are used.
This problem can be addressed on the deepest level possible. If a few users object to Musk killing off theBlockchain, then it would be impossible for him to do so. Duplicating across many computers means the risk of losing access is infinitesimal; the blockchain is its own API. This comes with different complications, of course, but losing information outright due to a hostile party is not one of them. When Hic et Nunc went under in late 2021, a new version of the market was launched, with the same content. The blockchain acts as a shared resource that forces interoperability, almost like organic self-defense.
The early blogging engine that has since grown into more elaborate general-purpose content management software was known as “WordPress”. About 40% of the open web is powered by it. There is a huge economy surrounding it that consists of companies that develop websites, developers who work for those companies, independent developers who work for themselves, and many of them writing plugins which can be unlocked or extended with licensing fees. This is all possible because the core is open source and encourages the same of its ecosystem. WordPress has been around for a long time and its straightforward RSS feeds decisively lost out to Twitter’s social features, so in 2022 there is a reasonable argument that it is a bit long in the tooth. But we must now understand it to be a bigger technical success than Twitter, simply because it is not at risk.
“We are excited to see Mastodon grow and become a household name in newsrooms across the world, and we are committed to continuing to improve our software to face up to new challenges that comes with rapid growth and increasing demand,” she wrote.
As of Tuesday morning, Mastodon’s app stood at number 8 among free social networking apps on the Google Play Store and at number 11 in the social networking category on Apple’s app store. There are many third-party applications for the platform beyond its own, that is whatMastodon is a Decentralized Social Network.
The Voice of the People is the Voice of God (I Give up) on Twitter: Elon Musk, Twitter and the #StopToxicTwitter Coalition
“This is a stark reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what you can and can’t say while holding your social graph hostage,” Rochko wrote.
Editor’s Note: Nora Benavidez is the senior counsel and director of digital justice and civil rights at Free Press, a media and technology justice advocacy organization. Free Press is a founding member of the #StopToxicTwitter coalition. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. There are more opinions on CNN.
We at Free Press agree that Musk must step aside. His replacement should be someone who understands how important health and safety are to the success of this social media platform.
His amnesty to previously suspended accounts has given us the return of neo-Nazis like Andrew Anglin, right-wing activists like Laura Loomer and other figures who have spread hate to millions of followers.
With regard to reversals, Twitter’s potential new leadership needs to undo its decision to allow Covid-19 misinformation and disinformation to spread unchecked across the social network. They need to retire Twitter’s pay-to-play blue checkmark feature, which allows verified users to post longer videos and have their content prioritized at the top of replies, mentions and searches. Musk has a plan to allow suspended accounts to be reopened.
When Elon Musk polled Twitter users about whether to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account, he quickly followed through on the majority’s wish to do so. He referred to it as the voice of the people is the voice of God.
Likewise, when Twitter users voted on another of his polls to provide “general amnesty to suspended accounts,” he went ahead and did it. He also heeded user votes in a poll to restore the accounts of tech journalists that he had suspended on Friday.
Others who had backed Musk’s bid for Twitter appeared frustrated at the decision. This is the last straw, said Paul Graham, a venture capitalist. I give up.”
There is definitely movement behind it, according to MacLeary. “Whether that momentum has pushed it over the tipping point, I don’t know. It reminds me of when I was on the micro-blogging site. You felt like you knew everyone there.”
And with that growing number of users comes more responsibility—not just for Mastodon itself, but for volunteer administrators, whose hobbies running servers have become second jobs.
“There are a lot of people who really don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into,” says Corey Silverstein, an attorney who specializes in internet law. You need to run your instances like you are the owner of the social networking site. What people don’t understand is how complicated it is to run a platform like this and how expensive it is.”
Mastodon is not dependent on a single hub to stay online, it uses various server administrators. Silverstein says that these admins are more like internet service providers themselves, and that they have to keep their server compliant with copyright and privacy laws. If they fail, they could be on the hook for lawsuits. They must follow complex legal frameworks around the world.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes social platforms liable for copyrighted material posted there if they don’t register to protect themselves and take it down, and it takes a few minutes to register. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule affects how platforms handle children’s data. If admins become aware of child exploitation material, they must report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Europe has a privacy and human rights law, the General Data Protection Regulation. Mastodon server could be affected by Europe’s new Digital Service Act if they are large enough. And administrators must comply with not only their local laws, but laws that exist anywhere their server is accessible. Experts say it is difficult, but not impossible.
Facebook burned through billions of dollars trying to make the metaverse happen. Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion and plunged the company into chaos, sending advertisers and some power users fleeing. Across Silicon Valley, tens of thousands of workers have been laid off as economic woes deflated tech’s pandemic high.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had renamed his company Meta to signal a new big bet on the metaverse, an immersive, virtual world he thinks is the future of the internet.
What the hell happened last weekend when artists were banned from Twitter for linking their portfolios and endorsements? A reappraisal of Silicon Valley
The mood changed rapidly within six months. Amid global economic turmoil, higher interest rates, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the online advertising market cratered.
“Users are using [social apps] differently. Advertisers are using them differently,” said Katie Harbath, a former public policy director at Facebook. Advertisers try to figure out where the eyeballs are when people go to different places for entertainment.
The race to emulate TikTok is pushing the big social media apps to become more like TV networks, where a tiny fraction of creators make almost all the content, Sayman said.
Sayman said there’s a “shiny object” in the social media space that doesn’t involve friends and what they’re doing.
That’s left many people looking for alternative ways to keep up with friends. Many are turning to messaging services like WhatsApp, Signal and Discord, others to more private apps like BeReal, where users post one unedited photo a day, that can’t be liked or shared.
There are apps for conservatives that feel their views are muzzled by Silicon Valley due to their dislike of legacy social sites.
I forgive you for coming back to it, but for those of us who are tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, I would just like to ask: What the hell happened last weekend?
I am fortunate enough to know a lot of creatives as well as a lot of journalists and tech workers. When I woke up on Sunday to the news, it was delivered to me by tweets from artists terrified they’d be banned from Twitter for linking to their own portfolios and to platforms where they accept commissions for their artwork. I read horror stories from authors who were terrified that the Linktrees their publishers asked them to create to promote their books, reviews, and Goodreads profiles were suddenly bannable offenses on Twitter.
My friends on twitch were worried that they wouldn’t be able to announce they were starting a new stream with a link to theirTwitter bio or that they wouldn’t be able to interrupt their streams to discuss the news. These things created the possibility for lost income for people who didn’t need it more than those who made the decisions. After all, these same creators have the kind of disruptive, entrepreneurial spirit that everyone in Silicon Valley claims to want to foster and empower.
Menswear on Twitter and the Inseparability of Who Goes Viral: Algorithmic Redesigns of the For You Feed
Menswear guy. The sexy person. The woman has a fascination with wolves. Depending on your interests, you can almost certainly have encountered one or more of these people on the internet in the past few weeks.
It’s part of the platform’s effort to shift users away from a simple feed of people they follow and toward a more curated experience. Twitter’s algorithm-based “For You” timeline became the default choice for users on January 10, part of Elon Musk’s plan to overhaul the platform. The company says the For You feed serves users tweets from accounts and topics they follow, augmented by “recommended tweets” and “suggested content powered by a variety of signals.”
Those signals, according to Twitter’s FAQ on the timeline, include a tweet’s popularity on the wider platform and how people within a user’s own network of followers interact with it. The increased focus on an algorithmically driven timeline means tweets that might previously have only circulated within a niche community, such as menswear, are now breaking into the mainstream of Twitter to be consumed by a wider audience.
“It probably isn’t news to many people by this point that when we’re on platforms like Twitter or TikTok or YouTube, our social experience is mediated by algorithms,” says Jennifer Cobbe, a researcher at the University of Cambridge who studies the way algorithms shape our digital lives. There is not any escape from what people are seeing.
The inescapability of this new Twitter setup has significant ramifications for who goes viral. Becoming Twitter’s main character has always been a dubious distinction, but it was previously a mantle someone (usually) deserved. Either they posted something offensive that users felt compelled to share with their followers—see, for instance, Bret Weinstein, who despite spending two decades studying evolutionary biology had never heard of a peanut allergy and tweeted his offense at being asked not to consume nuts on a May 2022 flight. Either Bean Dad, or someone else. Usually, for Twitter’s main characters, when the offense cascaded through enough layers, it broke onto everyone’s timelines for collective upset.
This model of virality wasn’t perfect and promoted dogpiling onto people who had often committed some minor, if bizarre, infraction. (And sometimes people who had made troubling statements.) Journalist Jon Ronson explored its impact on the humans at the center of the storm in his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, and on an associated podcast of the same name. But there was a sense that the shame people felt was justified, because They Had Done Wrong.
The failure of Mastodon and the rest of the Fediverse can grow, says Gehl, a communications and media professor at York University
Mastodon’s active monthly user count dropped to 1.4 million by late January. It has lost nearly half a million registered users since the beginning of the year. Many newcomers have complained that Mastodon is hard to use. Some people have returned to the place they always knew was bad: social networking site, Twitter.
“The biggest lesson of what happened is that Mastodon and the rest of the Fediverse can scale. Robert Gehl is a professor of communication and media studies at York University in Canada. Mastodon enjoyed peaks of interest, but also experienced slumps before, according to him. But that pattern can still add momentum. “Each time, a percentage of the wave sticks,” Gehl says. “You get people converting to it.”
“You look at some of the conferences we attended, you know, 50% of the social computing papers would be about Twitter and sometimes even more, because that was the data that we had access to,” says Starbird, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online information dynamics during crises, including disinformation.
Twitter did not say how many tweets users can download or post at the $100 a month level. Those who need additional access will have to have to pay more though the company didn’t disclose the pricing.
Twitter Shouldn’t Make Social Media Research Harder: Why NPR and Starbird are Keeping Their Twitter Pipelines Open, But They Are Making It Harder
The move will make it more expensive to run many automated accounts, known as bots. Some bots promote scams and propaganda, while others are useful or fun for many users, such as those that highlight every change the New York Times makes to its story headlines or flag an earthquake.
If some bots were spared, no researchers were. The change will also limit what is possible for researchers such as Starbird who have relied on that pipeline, known as an application programming interface or API, to study user behavior and information operations on the platform for years.
The research institutions, advocacy groups and individual researchers from around the world wrote an open letter calling onTwitter to maintain their access to researchers so that public interest research could continue. In a statement, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) said that Twitter should be making data access easier, not harder. As of Wednesday, Twitter did not respond to a request from NPR sent last week for more information about its decision.
Users’ timelines are shaped by who they follow but also their recommendations, meaning players can game it to amplify their message.
Users with access to the Twitter API can upload and download data in bulk to and from the platform using a computer program, bypassing the main user interface.
For every month, many users of the Twitter program will be able to download up to two million tweets from the past seven days. Academic institutions can download unlimited amounts from the entire archive for free. It is very important to understand online communities, which can be seen in the way that clusters of users relate to each other.
Starbird: What is the reach of Twitter? An engineer’s frustration at Twitter, a revelation that Musk is frustrated with the algorithms and employees at the company
Without access to that wealth of data, researchers will have a less comprehensive picture and less ability to go back and investigate narratives that they’ve missed in real time, Starbird says.
By giving users well-documented API access, Twitter’s data has been more transparent than other major social media platforms. Meta’s offering, CrowdTangle, does not provide straightforward ways to download data in real time and in bulk the way Twitter does. Moreover, the company is reportedly winding it down and has not announced whether it will offer a replacement. Meta was silent about CrowdTangle’s future.
Starbird’s team is throwing ideas around what they can do with Twitter if their current level of access ceases. They intend to focus on Telegram, TikTok and Reddit along with Twitter for the 2024 presidential election while collaborating with teams that monitor other platforms.
An even more obvious reason for the decline in engagement is Twitter’s increasingly glitchy product, which has baffled users with its disappearing mentions, shifting algorithmic priorities, and tweets inserted seemingly at random from accounts they don’t follow. On Wednesday, the company suffered one of its first major outages since Musk took over, with users being told, inexplicably, “You are over the daily limit for sending tweets.”
“This is ridiculous,” he said, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. I have more than 100 million followers but I’m only getting a few thousand impressions.
Employees showed Musk the data regarding engagement with his account. Musk was at his peak popularity in search rankings according to the report last April. Today, he’s at a score of nine. Engineers had previously investigated whether Musk’s reach had somehow been artificially restricted but found no evidence that the algorithm was biased against him.
“You’re fired, you’re fired,” Musk told the engineer. The engineer is not being named due to the harassment Musk has directed at former Twitter employees.
Musk has been unhappy with the work of engineers so far, so he has told workers to track the number of times he tells people to follow him on his social media accounts.
Since then, public view counts have been added. Musk promised at the time that the feature would show the world how vibrant the platform is.
He claimed that he could show how much more alive the micro-blogging site is than you may think, but did not say how to reply or send a message.
A deleted data for the internal service that sets rate limits for using social media was discovered by an employee. The team that worked on that service left the company.
The shift from dumpster fire to dumpster fire: a perspective of an employee frustrated by his or her work life at the San Francisco headquarters, when everyone is talking about work
One employee said that they had not seen much in the way of cogent strategy. “Most of our time is dedicated to three main areas: putting out fires (mostly caused by firing the wrong people and trying to recover from that), performing impossible tasks, and ‘improving efficiency’ without clear guidelines of what the expected end results are. We move from dumpster fire to dumpster fire, from my perspective.
“There’s times he’s just awake late at night and says all sorts of things that don’t make sense,” one employee said. “And then he’ll come to us and be like, ‘this one person says they can’t do this one thing on the platform,’ and then we have to run around chasing some outlier use case for one person. It doesn’t make any sense.”
There is a melancholy air in the San Francisco headquarters that has been sued for rent. When people walk into the halls they are told a standard greeting “Where are you interviewing?” and “where do you have offers?” The eighth floor is still stocked with beds, and employees have to reserve them in advance.
An employee said that people don’t talk about work things anymore. “It’s just heartbreaking. I have more conversations with my colleagues on social networks than I do on the phone. Before the transition, it was not uncommon in the team channel to talk about what everybody did that weekend. There’s none of that anymore.”
What is the least fireable response? Employee’s questions confront the modern world: elon’s frustrations with technicolor
“When you’re asked a question, you run it through your head and say ‘what is the least fireable response I can have to this right now?’” one employee explained.
That is not the case for everyone at the company. There are a number of people who are just ass-kissers and brown-nosers, trying to take advantage of the clear vacuum that exists according to an employee.
“If Elon can learn how to put a bit more thought into some of the decisions, and fire from the hip a bit less, it might do some good,” the employee said. He needs to learn to let those that know take over if he wants to keep his job.
An employee explained that he doesn’t like to believe there is anything in technology he doesn’t know. You can only be the smartest person in the room if you are attentive.
“I do think the recent vibe overall in tech, and fear of not being able to find something else, is the primary factor for most folks,” an employee said. Most of my team is doing hardcore interview prep and would jump at the chance to walk away.
T2: A Social Platform to Share, Protect, and Protect Your Social Network with the Restricted Comments of Musk and Other Bose-Faro Users
A lack of trust in how the latest changes will be reviewed by regulators is also present. As part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, Twitter committed to following a series of steps before pushing out changes, including creating a project proposal and conducting security and privacy reviews.
Wells Fargo said it “paused our paid advertising on Twitter” but continues to use it as a social channel to engage with customers. The other brands did not respond to the request.
From October through January, revenue from the top 1,000 advertisers fell from $127 million to $48 million, according to the data.
The pushback continues. A group of civil rights groups renewed calls for companies to join them in stop advertising on a social networking site, after they said more than 500 advertisers have stopped doing so. The latest effort came after a research report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a member of the coalition, raised concerns about ads “appearing next to toxic content” from previously banned accounts.
After Sarah Oh lost her job as a human rights advisor at Twitter late last year in the first round of layoffs following Elon Musk’s chaotic acquisition of the company, she decided to join a friend in building a rival service.
T2 was launched with Gabor Cselle, who had worked at both of the aforementioned companies. Like TWaP, it has a social feed of posts with character limits. But the key selling point, according to Oh, is its focus on safety.
The experience that we want to create is one that allows people to share whatever they want without fearing abuse and harassment, and we feel like we are well positioned to deliver on that.
What is the Difference between a Twitter Alternative and a Facebook Alternative? The Case of Artifact, Instagram, CNN, and Cohost
The list of newer entrants in the markets includes apps created by former Twitter employees, a startup backed by one of Musk’s Twitter investors, and a service from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Some apps have a similar approach, like T2 and others have a different one.
Last month, for example, the founders of Instagram announced Artifact, “a personalized news feed” powered by artificial intelligence, a description that quickly earned it comparisons to Twitter. CNN tested the app recently and it resembled news reader applications like Apple News or the discontinued Google Reader. Artifact put popular articles from large media organizations in a feed tailored to users based on their activity and interests.
But all of these apps appear to be vying for the opportunity to scratch the itch users may feel for a news feed that isn’t Twitter — at least for as long as that itch lasts.
“Something that we’ve heard a lot from people who are moving over from Twitter, either partially or fully, is that it is just for them a nicer experience overall,” said Jae Kaplan, co-founder of Anti Software Software club, the group that develops Cohost, a text-based social media feed similar to Twitter. The service was publicly launched in June of last year. After Musk completed his takeover, the platform added 80,000 users in just 48 hours.
“People have been referring to us when they do as a Twitter alternative, which I think is an important distinction from a Twitter replacement,” Kaplan said.