My oh my, what a year it’s been. After several months of back-and-forth between billionaire and tech tycoon Elon Musk and social media company Twitter, the former officially took over as owner of the platform one year ago on Oct. 26, 2022.
We said goodbye to verification and hello to paid verification. We said adios to Twitter and hello to X. Some of us bid adieu to Twitter altogether and said hello to Meta’s platform clone Threads. As we approach the one-year birthday of Musk’s Twitter, plenty of newsworthy events have happened—most of them bad. As such, we can take a look at 12 of the worst moments (and four honourable mentions) in the last year of Twitter under Musk’s tutelage.
Please note: This article will henceforth refer to the platform as Twitter because X is a stupid name.
November: Elon Musk takes over Twitter :/
The dark days began last autumn when Elon Musk took over the platform. While Musk officially announced he was taking over Twitter in late October with an incredibly cringey video, his presence wasn’t really felt as an overwhelming dark cloud until November when he really began pulling the wrong switches. At that time, Musk cut off the head of Twitter by booting top executives and saying he would be charging for verification checkmarks.
December: Musk bans, then unbans, then bans the account tracking his jet
Creating a Twitter account that publishes completely public information anyone can obtain? Sorry bub, that’s against the rules ‘round these parts. Fan favourite Twitter account @ElonJet regularly posted updates on the timeline concerning the whereabout of Elon Musk’s jet, data which is public information through the FAA. Musk banned that account, before reversing course, before reversing course again back to banning. Nevertheless, @ElonJet persisted, moving from Twitter to Threads.
January: Musk cuts staff family planning perks but boosts the snack budget
In these trying times, a lot companies are cutting their office snack budgets. Not Twitter, though, as the social media platform touted bolstered funding toward snacks and coffee for those employees it didn’t lay off. However where Twitter did make cuts was toward family planning. Twitter staff was previously entitled to $US80,000 in lifetime coverage toward adoption, surrogacy, egg and sperm freezing, and fertility treatments. Beginning in January, however, that number was cut in half.
February: Twitter delays charging for API after user backlash
Reddit faced a major dose of user retaliation this year when the company announced that it would be charging for access to its application programming interface, also known as an API. Twitter nearly did the same earlier in the year, and promptly dodged a bullet, only to shoot itself in the foot a few months later. In February, Twitter announced that it would be charging for access to its API only to reverse course after users expressed their discontent.
March: Twitter’s VIP list leaks
Shortly after Musk took over the platform in the fall, a mysterious list emerged on the internet. That list contained names like congresswoman AOC, basketball star Lebron James, YouTuber and failed burger restaurant entrepreneur MrBeast, and far-right memer catturd2. The entire list had 35 names, and news broke that said list was a roster of accounts that Twitter was pushing onto people’s timelines, increasing their visibility seemingly at will. The list was reportedly developed to monitor engagement on the platform as users interacted with these power users and study how changes to the website’s recommendation algorithm would effect that engagement.
April: Twitter rebrands
In April, court documents revealed that Musk was planning on rebranding Twitter Inc. as the hilariously maniacal X Corp. A court filing from far-right conspiracy theorist and Congress hopeful Laura Loomer, with documents dated April 4 stating that Twitter “has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists.” However it wouldn’t be until the summer, when Twitter visually rebranded as X and redirected traffic to a new URL: X.com.
May: Musk appoints Linda Yaccarino as CEO
Is appointing a veteran executive from a major company as your CEO worth dubbing a “worst moment?” No. Is appointing a veteran security and only using her as your mouthpiece worth dubbing a “worst moment?” Yes.
Musk named former NBC executive Linda Yaccarino as CEO of Twitter in May. Since then, Yaccarino has been tasked with the impossible: Cleaning up the messes that Musk creates with his own word vomit. This was best exemplified by the CEO’s appearance at Vox Media’s Code Conference in September. Yaccarino spent the majority of the nearly 40-minute-long Q&A half-heartedly paving over an earlier surprise appearance by Twitter’s former Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth with some talking points about how the old Twitter no longer existed. Yaccarino’s interview at the conference was so panned that she pulled out of another scheduled conference appearance.
June: Musk dubs “cisgender” a slur
CEOs are tasked with making the tough decisions, but Musk instead found himself siding with the wrong end of a culture war. In a bid to make the platform a bastion of free speech, Musk restricted the word “cisgender” from Twitter because inclusive language apparently makes him upset. It’s hardly the first time, as one of Musk’s favourite hobbies is silencing those he disagrees with.
Breaking up is hard to do—and its even harder when your boss won’t pay you the severance package you were promised. Twitter’s former head of HR filed a class action lawsuit against the company over Musk failing to pay the employee’s $US500 million severance package that was promised by former CEO Parag Agrawal.
Sticking it to The Man™️ by getting in the way of bureaucracy is usually metal as hell and should oftentimes be championed—except when you’re Elon Musk and you financially ding one of your brands that’s already struggling. Special Counsel Jack Smith on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice executed a search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter escapades in an ongoing investigation into his obstruction of the 2020 election. Twitter dug its heels in and found itself in the crosshairs of a whopping $US350,000 fine. Chump change for Musk’s pocket, but a hefty sum for a dying platform.
In an age of rampant political polarisation, it’s important for social media companies to make a concerted effort to maintain a clean record of accurate information on their respective platforms. Elon Musk apparently believes no such thing. In September, news broke that the billionaire officially pulled the plug on the option for users to report misinformation on the platform. The feature was first introduced in 2022.
One of the more obviously devious you completely incoherent decisions Musk made was decapitating links shared to Twitter. Previously, links shared to the platform would boast a headline, a short synopsis of the story, and a feature image. Now, links shared to the platform will have no identifying headline, and will instead only have their featured image and name of the outlet on display. If users want a headline in a post, they’ll have to manually write it in themselves. As is tradition on Musk’s Twitter, the ill-conceived decision hilariously backfired.
Honourable mention: Musk cuts thousands of jobs
Nothing saves money like firing the people that make you money. In a wave of seemingly never-ending tech layoffs last winter, Musk pulled the trigger on several teams in a sweeping bout of restructuring, resulting of thousands of employees losing their jobs to the whims of a megalomaniac.
Honourable mention: Linda Yaccarino shares an ad featuring anti-Musk tweets
One of Musk’s thesis statements surrounding Twitter is to make it a “global town square.” That vision has been sparsely implemented, forcing the company to release an advertisement to tout its vision of its next life. The ad is a great example of an “Intro to Editing” college course assignment, with cheesy stock music and glitchy graphics in an attempt to make Twitter look cool and fun.
CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted out the video seemingly unaware that clips of the Twitter timeline featured in the video has anti-Musk sentiment sowed within. That ad was promptly deleted and an edited version was released, but the Internet never forgets.
Honourable mention: Climate misinformation runs rampant
When Twitter officially removed the option to flag misinformation on the platform, it gave up on the opportunity to have some shred of integrity. A report released by the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition, which is made up of more than 50 environmental groups, ranked Twitter dead last on the list of platforms that are managing misinformation surrounding the climate crisis.
Honourable mention: Musk auctions off Twitter furniture
In a bizarre move that was either an attempt to recharge the energy within Twitter HQ or, more realistically, a desperate attempt to boost income, Twitter began to auction off over 600 items of office furniture. Assuming the latter is true, Musk’s campaign actually kinda worked: A massive statue of the Twitter logo sold for $US100,000. To be blunt, the office had some good style, and there are plenty of cheaper dupes out there for those interested.
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