Elon Musk’s bumpy Twitter takeover

The billionaire officially took over the media platform in October and has been controversial ever since


Photo illustration by Sherm

Musk’s takeover has drawn criticism and ire from within the company and beyond

Jacob Berr, News Writer

Elon Musk has made controversial changes to Twitter’s content moderation since he took over the platform on October 27.

Musk is a self-declared “free-speech absolutist” and has loosened Twitter’s content restrictions regarding hate speech, conspiracy theories and misinformation. 

“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk tweeted. “Negative/hate tweets will be max-deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter.”

Musk has not clarified what he means by “Negative/hate tweets.” There has been a debate going on online and offline on whether or not Elon Musk – or anybody – can objectively decide what is and what is not hate speech. 

“Honesty, I don’t trust anybody to determine what is hate speech or not,” junior Joshua Hopkins said. “You can base that on your opinion. Someone can say something to me that I don’t find that disrespectful, but somebody who might overhear it could be very offended by it.”

The line denoting media as offensive is subjective, and determining what constitutes hate speech is a skill Musk will arguably need for moderating online content.

“He is with the times enough to understand whether or not someone is trolling or being serious,” sophomore Cody Riechman said. 

Musk’s actions have led to a rise in hate speech on Twitter. The utilization of the N-Word has tripled, the use of slurs against gay men has risen by 58% and the use of offensive language against trans people has also increased.

  “[There has been] both an increase in antisemitic content on the platform and a decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts,” according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Musk has brought back many users who were previously banned by Twitter including Former President Donald Trump, who was banned for inciting the January 6 Insurrection.

Not everyone has been brought back by Musk. Alex Jones’s account has not been reinstated and Kanye West, originally brought back by Musk, was banned again after praising Hitler and Nazis on Alex Jones’ podcast Infowars. 

Twitter has lost advertisers ever since Musk has taken over Twitter. According to a report by Platformer, bookings for advertisement slots have gone down 49% in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. According to Media Matters, half of the top 100 advertisers have stopped advertising on Twitter.  

However, some advertisers are coming back. It has been reported that Amazon and Apple will be advertising back on Twitter. 

Musk has also cut about 4,500 staff members out of the 7,500 staff members that were at Twitter when he first took over. Some employees have voluntarily left the company due to dislike of Musk’s content moderation policies or dislike for him as a person. Musk has reportedly fired employees for criticizing him. He has issued an ultimatum to work “extremely hardcore” or leave, causing even more employees to quit. 

“My boss was laid off, and my boss’s boss — the head of the department — quit. So I did not know who my boss was,” former Twitter Data Scientist Melisa Ingle told NPR. “I didn’t know what new assignment I had.” 

Musk has been regularly sleeping at Twitter HQ and has been forcing employees to do the same. Office space has been converted into bedrooms and office sofas have been converted into beds. Because of this, San Francisco authorities are investigating Musk and Twitter for potential building code violations. 

“It looks like a hotel room,” a former Twitter employee told the BBC.

In a more bizarre turn of events, Musk recently put to Twitter whether or not he should even continue on as CEO of the company. After the majority (57.5%) voted for Musk to step down, the media mogul pointed to polling at the company as the problem, not him.

Musk’s poll on Monday night garnered over 17 million votes (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

On Monday night, Musk tweeted that he would be changing how polling on Twitter would work so that only updated subscription holders would be able to vote. According to CNN, after one Twitter user said that “Blue subscribers” should be the only ones allowed to voice their perspective in “policy related polls,” Musk responded via Twitter, “Good point. Twitter will make that change.”

Many news outlets, including CNBC, suggest that Musk is actively looking for a new Twitter CEO.