Sunday officially marks a month since the world’s richest man took the helm of Twitter.
At the time, Elon Musk initiated mass layoffs and gave the rest of the staff a vague ultimatum, restored the accounts of controversial figures, including former President Donald Trump, and launched — then recounted — a plan to charge Twitter’s distinctive blue checkmarks.
After spending months in a failed legal battle to get out of his initial proposal to buy Twitter, Musk made his first splashy entry into the company’s offices on Oct. 26, carrying laundry. (in video Of the incident shared on Twitter, he wrote: “Entering Twitter HQ – let this sink in!)
Since then, the billionaire has apparently left no stone unturned to make it through his whirlwind first month as “Chief Twit.” Here’s a look at the array of ways Musk (who, meanwhile, remains CEO of his two other companies, Tesla and SpaceX) has made his mark on one of the most influential social media platforms in the world.
After Musk completed his drama-filled $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, he fired former CEO Parag Agrawal and two other executives. He then appointed himself CEO and sole director of the platform, through a securities deposit.
However, the dramatic change in leadership was only the first taste of the overhaul of the personnel that was to come. Musk initiated massive layoffs across the company, reducing the total number of employees by about 50% in two days.
On the eve of November 3 through November 4, several former Twitter employees began posting on the platform that they were being banned from their company email accounts as job layoffs began to unfold in a very dramatic and public way.
The layoffs affected departments including ethical AI, marketing, communication, research, public policy, and more. While workers said goodbye to colleagues online (many of them sharing blue hearts and saluting emojis to indicate they lost their jobs on Twitter), Musk has largely remained silent, at least about the job cuts.
In another dramatic move by the new boss, Musk publicly fired a software engineer who survived the first round of cuts, but grilled Musk on Twitter.
In an internal late-night email following mass employee cuts, Musk told Twitter’s remaining employees to stick to “very hardcore” work or leave the company with severance pay.
“Going forward, to build Twitter 2.0 penetration and succeed in an increasingly competitive world,” Musk wrote in the November 16 memo, “we will need to be very hardcore. And that means working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a success score.”
In the memo, Musk goes on to explain how Twitter will be “more driven by engineering” and then gives employees an ultimatum. “If you are sure you would like to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below,” directing employees to what appears to be an online form.
Musk said any employees who do not do so by 5 p.m. ET the next day, Thursday, will receive three months of severance pay.
In the face of the mass exodus of workers, the departure of advertisers was brewing.
Since Musk’s acquisition, a handful of brands — ranging from General Mills to North Face to the Volkswagen Group — have confirmed pauses in advertising on the social network as CSOs raise fresh concern about the company’s direction under Musk.
About a week after he took over the company, Musk said it had seen a “massive drop in revenue.”
In a November 4 tweet, he said: “Twitter has seen a huge drop in revenue, due to pressure from activist groups on advertisers, although nothing has changed with content moderation and we’ve done everything we can to satisfy activists.” above! They are trying to destroy freedom of speech in America.”
Another aspect of Twitter that Musk quickly flipped is one of the platform’s most popular features to its users: verified blue check marks that have long been used to confirm the health of government officials, journalists, and other public figures.
“The current twitter lords and peasants system for those who have or don’t have a blue tick is rubbish,” Musk tweeted on November 1. Blue for $8 a month.
Sure enough, on November 5, Twitter launched an updated version of its iOS app that allowed users to pay a monthly subscription fee to receive a blue check mark on their profiles. The update, as posted on Apple’s App Store at the time, stated that users would now have to pay $7.99 per month for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription to receive a checkmark on the platform, “just like celebrities, corporations, and politicians already follow.”
Within days of the launch of the subscription service, Twitter was flooded with a wave of impersonators and famous companies who quickly toyed with the new system to be iconic brands and personalities.
Chaos ensued. In one viral example, a fake account, featuring a newly purchased blue checkmark, purportedly from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, tweeted that an important diabetes drug would now be free.
In the aftermath of the chaos, Musk eventually announced that he would be delaying the subscription service’s rollout until the end of the month.
“Relaunching Blue Verified through November 29th to make sure it’s rock solid,” Musk wrote in a tweet on November 15.
On November 24, Musk gave a slightly different target date for the restart, December 2, and provided more details about the future service, including a set of check mark colors to indicate the type of account being verified.
On November 19, Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, nearly two years after he banned it permanently in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
The move came shortly after Twitter restored the accounts of several other controversial users, who had previously been banned or suspended, including conservative Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson, right-leaning satirical website Babylon Bee, comedian Kathy Griffin and MP Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Before restoring Trump’s Twitter account, Musk posted a poll asking platform users if Trump should be reinstated – a slim majority (51.8%) voted for him.
“The people have spoken. And Trump will be reinstated.” “Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” (Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God”).
Trump previously said he would stay on his own platform, Truth Social, rather than join Twitter, and has yet to tweet since his account came back online.
But the change in his approach could have major political implications as Trump has said he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
After conducting another Twitter poll, Musk said on November 24 that he would begin to restore most of the previously banned accounts on Twitter starting next week. This would mark his biggest far-reaching move yet to undo the social media platform’s policy of permanently suspending users who repeatedly broke its rules.
Thanksgiving’s announcement came after most respondents voted in favor of his poll about offering “a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided they don’t break the law or engage in egregious spam.”
Once again, Musk tweeted that “people have spoken.”
His recent decisions to reinstate previously banned accounts, based on the results of his polls on the platform, are markedly at odds with how Musk has previously said he would approach such choices.
Just a day after his Twitter takeover, Musk said the social media company would “form a content oversight board with widely diverse viewpoints.”
“No significant decisions about content or recalculation will be made before this House,” Musk added.
It is not immediately clear if this board was created, convened, or involved in the decision-making behind the reinstatement of Trump’s accounts and previously banned accounts.