Howdy, Chief Twit!
By: Victor Peng
Elon Musk’s $44bn acquisition of Twitter on Friday, October 28 has left the internet in a wild frenzy. Many are watching for how Elon Musk plans to change the platform, and how it could affect upcoming US midterm elections. So, what has he done so far?
Firstly, Musk dismissed Twitter’s entire board of directors, and he is now the sole director of Twitter. Musk said in a tweet that the change is “just temporary.” The Washington Post reported that Musk planned to fire 75% of Twitter’s current 7500 employees in order to cut down the costs of operating the company. Musk has denied the 75% figure, and instead suggested that he would only target 25% of the workforce. Musk has already laid off multiple top Twitter employees including.
Musk also brought over more than 50 software engineers from his other big tech companies to revamp Twitter, and check over the software. These include multiple Tesla engineers such as the director of software development and the director of autopilot and tesla bot engineering. He also flew in two employees from The Boring Company and one from Neuralink. These top engineers are already at work.
On Sunday (Oct 30th), Musk put out a poll on his Twitter account asking if users would like “Vines” to make a return. For those who are unfamiliar, Vine is a Twitter app from 2013, arguably the founding father of modern apps and features such as TikTok or YouTube Shorts. In a Vine, a short 6-second clip is played on repeat. Twitter engineers have already been at work trying to revamp Vine, with a target of bringing it back by the end of this year.
But now, the real question is: what’s next?
Musk has many plans for upcoming Twitter changes, perhaps the most controversial being how Twitter verification works. Before, all Twitter required for that sweet little check mark was for the account to be “Authentic, Notable, and Active.” Musk has criticized Twitter’s “Lord and Peasants” system, and plans to make the blue verification mark available for anyone at a price of $20. After public backlash, he decided to drop the price down to $8, claiming that this will allow Twitter to better manage bots and scammers. Twitter verification will now also have perks such as priority in replies, mentions, and search, the ability to post longer videos, half as many ads, and more to come.
As Jim Tabery (a professor at the University of Utah) says, “I suspect — if you want me to make a prediction — that Twitter is going to change very little over the course of the next 12 months… On one side, [people are] imagining this sort of idyllic future where Twitter is suddenly a conservative haven, and liberals imagining this awful scenario... I don’t think that we’re going to get much traction out of predicting that Twitter’s going to suddenly turn into some really radical new social space. I think the market has kind of dialed it in where it’s at.”
As for what really will happen, nobody knows. It seems like for once, Musk also doesn’t know what’s looming ahead. Only time will tell.