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Musk’s Day at Twitter Dawned: And So What Really Happened?

For one thing, many layoffs — but layoffs are currently widespread in Big Tech
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Important people seem to be taking Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover very seriously indeed. Were those of us who have disregarded Twitter in the past wrong? Blind sided?

Here’s U.S. President Joe Biden: “Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that spews lies all across the world, There’s no editors anymore in America.

Maybe, but no one is forced to join Twitter or even listen…

Many traditional tech watchers are sounding an alarm over Musk’s post-takeover layoffs. But before we get into that, let’s note that other Big Techs are also currently laying off personnel in considerable numbers: November 4 has been called the worst day for layoffs in 2022 (Black Thursday) at Fortune:

News of job cuts came down at ride-share outfit Lyft (13% of staff, about 700 employees); fintech startup Chime (12%, 160 employees); payments company Stripe (14%, 1,000 employees); home-flipper Opendoor (18%, 550 employees); and social media giant Twitter (about 50%, or 3,700 employees, were expected to get the ax Friday).

Jacob Carpenter, “4 big questions for Big Tech after its worst day for layoffs in 2022” at Fortune (November 4, 2022)

Facebook, in particular, is said to be planning large-scale layoffs this week, in response to a collapse of share prices: “Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects the metaverse investments to take about a decade to bear fruit. In the meantime, he has had to freeze hiring, shutter projects and reorganize teams to trim costs.” – MSN (November 6, 2022)

Meanwhile, back at Twitter, we learn that Elon Musk is laying off half the work force. But, of course, that can only happen if an enterprise is overstaffed. One can’t lay off half of a pair of scissors or tweezers and get the same result…

Some big-name advertisers are announcing that they will stop advertising on Twitter as a result. But, under the circumstances, we must assume that they don’t think they will need to advertise on Twitter in the future. That very much depends on what Musk’s housecleaning accomplishes (or doesn’t).

One of Musk’s more widely publicized proposed innovations, still very much in a formative stage, is to charge for higher levels of access. For example, he proposes to charge a monthly fee for the coveted blue check mark status. Some, of course, prophesy doom: “a subscription fee to be verified on the social media platform opens the flood gates for scammers and conspiracy theorists to target users.” – (NBC News November 2, 2022). Maybe. But it is now conventional for online media to make some basic access free but to charge for higher levels of access.

As the mercurial Musk tries to turn Twitter into a profitable company (for which he ended up, incidentally, paying more than it is likely worth), he certainly doesn’t suffer from a want of doomsayers: From Steve Tollman at Fortune: “Musk has owned Twitter under a week and big names are already leaving the platform, complaining about a hate surge, and calling for tighter regulation.” From Jacob Carpenter at Fortune: “Barely a week into owning Twitter, Elon Musk already looks like an emperor with no clothes.”

Some worry about who financed Musk’s Twitter buy: Apparently, as one might expect, personal assets, investment funds and bank loans. The Bank of America, which holds a loan, is apparently not losing corporate sleep over it: “In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, seemed unfazed however. When asked if he would lose sleep over the deal, he said: ‘I’ve got experts that handle the clients and I don’t lose sleep on them. I lose sleep for a lot of other things, but not for that.’”

Maybe he shouldn’t. Twitter has given us many words, phrases, and ways of thinking about things that could make it too big to fail, culturally — whatever we may think of it. A bit like Hollywood?

Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul; and with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor of the forthcoming The Human Soul: What Neuroscience Shows Us about the Brain, the Mind, and the Difference Between the Two (Worthy, 2025). She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

Musk’s Day at Twitter Dawned: And So What Really Happened?