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Elon Musk shows what being Chief Twit is all about across weird weekend
Shares misinformation, re-litigates takeover trial, complains about on-boarding process, and more
Chief Twit Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter and shown he is well and truly up to the job title he gave himself after paying $44 billion for the micro-blogging platform.
Musk began his tenure with a few quips, before offering the following announcement detailing his plans to address content moderation on Twitter:
Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.
That tweet represents a departure from his previous statements suggesting he favors maximalist interpretations of the right to free speech, but is consistent with a tweet he emitted the day before his takeover was completed that addressed the advertising community and promised the service would not become a "free-for-all hellscape."
Over the weekend Musk clarified that the creation of the content moderation council does not mean Twitter has changed its content moderation policies.
He later japed about the issue of free speech.
Finally, the truth that carbs are amazing can be said on this platform! #FreeSpeech— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 29, 2022
A reminder: Twitter permanently suspended the account of former US president Donald Trump, thrusting the service into a roiling partisan debate about accountability, censorship, and free speech.
Musk then demonstrated the kind of behavior that makes those debates so hard to resolve by responding to a tweet from former US first lady, senator, secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. In the tweet, she expressed concern about how conspiracy theories have poisoned political debate, as typified by the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi.
Musk replied with a link to a site often rated as a dubious source of news for purveying conspiracy theories, deleted it, then mocked The New York Times reporting of his actions.
This is fake – I did *not* tweet out a link to The New York Times! pic.twitter.com/d6V6m5ATW2— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2022
While all that was going on, Twitter's head of safety Yoel Roth shared news of a spike in hateful tweeting:
Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) October 30, 2022
Musk later surfaced what appears to be a Slack message from Roth that he alleged was kept from him by Twitter's lawyers and board during the litigation over his acquisition of the company.
Wachtell & Twitter board deliberately hid this evidence from the court. Stay tuned, more to come … pic.twitter.com/CifaNvtRtt— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 31, 2022
Twitter's new owner also found time to complain about the company's automated onboarding process after it insisted he complete a basic management course.
Just received this email from Twitter. This is an actual, real email that was autogenerated 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/7DQp4sNINX— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 30, 2022
Aside from his online activity, Musk has reportedly fired several senior staff, forced developers to submit code for a quality review conducted by coders from Tesla, and prepared to fire either up to 75 percent of Twitter staff, or 25 percent, or … maybe some other quantity.
Other rumors suggest Musk will force verified Twitter users – so called "Blue Ticks" – to adopt the service's $4.99/month Twitter Blue premium service. As that service only operates in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, that does not seem to be an immediately achievable aim (and FWIW your correspondent thinks the service is not very good).
There are also claims of Twitter charging $20 a month for blue ticks.
- India, Twitter brawl in public as latest content rules begin to bite
- Twitter edit button coming later this month ... for some
- Twitter's most valuable users are ghosting the platform
- Musk grumbles about 'overpaying' for Twitter but says he's excited
All of which brings you up to date with Musk's first weekend as chief twit, during which he certainly appears to have lived up to the title and provided entertainment and exasperation in equal measure. Meanwhile, the world waits to see what his reign will do to a site that – for better or worse – remains the de facto real-time vox-pop of global events and opinions. So totally something that will benefit from becoming a plaything for a billionaire who's also trying to run an electric car company and a space launch outfit. ®