April 2, 2023. I open the Twitter website on my laptop.
Instead of the well-known bird in the top left-hand corner, there is a low-quality pixelated representation of a Doge. I sigh and shake my head. Elon’s done it again.
On Oct. 28 of last year, Elon Musk bought Twitter. Since then, it’s been a long road of layoffs, gaffes and utterly insane tweets from the man himself. And the road is only going to get longer – and far worse.
One of Musk’s biggest disasters was the rollout of Twitter Blue, Twitter’s premium subscription service. Paying $8 a month provides you with a myriad of features, including the ability to edit tweets, write longer ones and, most importantly, obtain that coveted blue checkmark.
Twitter Blue has been nothing short of cataclysmic. Shortly after its launch, there was, as I like to affectionately call it, “The Night of the Fake Accounts.” This led to, among others, the infamous “We are excited to announce insulin is free now” Tweet from a fake verified Eli Lilly Twitter account. This incident likely caused Lilly’s stock value to fall nearly 4.5%, according to Forbes.
[Related: Black Voices: Elon Musk is ruining Twitter]
More recently, Musk stated that only Twitter Blue subscribers could appear in For You recommendations and vote in polls. Along with this, legacy verified accounts -– those who were verified when verification actually meant something — could have their checkmarks taken away, though that hasn’t happened yet.
Letting everyone have a blue checkmark for a small monthly payment defeats its entire purpose. We live in an age of misinformation and conspiracy theories, and letting anyone have a mark of credibility can be harmful. But if people will pay for it, Musk will sell it, even if it kills the reliability of his site.
The whole point of the famous blue checkmark is to show you that the Tweet you’re reading is actually from the person you think it is. Is it actually Eli Lilly? Or just an imitator? With Twitter Blue, it’s increasingly hard to know.
Not only are Musk’s outward-facing policies horrible for the site, his internal policies have set the company ablaze.
Those of us on the outside can also see the chaos Musk has wrought. Musk’s spat with Twitter employee Haraldur Thorleifsson is one huge example.
Thorleifsson tweeted to Musk on March 6, voicing concerns that he was fired after his access to his work computer was disabled. The company had failed to communicate if he was still an employee or not, and he was left in limbo.
Musk then proceeded to mock and question Thorleifsson and his work. Rather than handling the issue professionally and privately, Musk embarrassed his own employee in front of thousands of his fanboys.
Except, oops! Thorleifsson was actually a contracted employee who sold his company to Twitter. Breaking this contract could result in Twitter having to pay out a large amount of money to fulfill their obligation to him. Thorleifsson also has muscular dystrophy and was named Person of the Year by several Icelandic media outlets due to his widespread philanthropic efforts.
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If Elon Musk’s goal was transforming Twitter from a bustling and diverse community into an unoptimized frustrating experience, he succeeded. I haven’t even covered the odd interface changes that have plagued the site over the past months, annoying me and many others.
Sure, Twitter has always had its problems. It’s been known for years as the website of petty arguments and unnecessary drama. But Musk’s tenure as owner has only exacerbated these issues. Shortly after his takeover of the company, misogynistic, transphobic and racist language became more prevalent.
So, Elon, if you’re reading this – which you probably aren’t, because it’s not on Twitter – look at this part carefully. Just sell the site. We’ll all thank you.
Danny William (they/them) is a freshman studying media. They admit their bias in this article with the confession that their Twitter For You page is filled with approximately 50% anti-Musk sentiment.