Major changes made on Twitter since Elon Musk took over


Photo taken on July 24, 2023 shows the Twitter bird logo upside down in the background of Elon Musk’s screen advertising an "X" as a replacement logo, in Los Angeles.

Photo credit: Chris Delmas | AFP

It’s a new week, and that means a new declaration from Twitter CEO, Elon Musk. Hot on the heels of the launch of Threads, Twitter’s rival, Musk has announced the genesis of a radical rebranding. He has begun the process of replacing Twitter’s renowned bird logo with X. Musk took over the reins of the Social App on October 27, 2022 and barely one year in, there are loud murmurs that the world’s fourth richest man is killing the app and its popularity.

In April 2022, Musk was quoted saying, “Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.” But has he? Here is a timeline of just right before he acquired the social app to the latest declaration.

April 2022:

On April 5, Elon Musk announced that he had bought more than 9 percent of Twitter's shares on the open market. He was initially given a board seat. He then offered to purchase Twitter for $54.20 per share, or close to $44 billion, which was a significant premium over the stock price of the firm at the time. He claimed that he wanted to use the platform, which he believed had been mismanaged, to apply free speech ideals. He further stated that he would finance the transaction using both cash and borrowing.

On April 25, Twitter decided to take Musk's offer. Twitter's Independent Board Chair, Bret Taylor said in a statement that the company's board “conducted a thoughtful and thorough process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing.” He said the proposed transaction was the best course of action for Twitter's stockholders because it would result in a significant cash premium.

May-June 2022:

On May 13, Musk tweeted that he was “temporarily putting the deal to acquire Twitter on hold” pending more details on the prevalence of spam and false accounts/bots on the network. Musk continued to publicly discuss issues he noticed at Twitter, even though he later claimed he was still committed to the acquisition.

Twitter responded with a statement claiming that Musk had previously consented to the $54.20 transaction and stated that it wanted to finalise and enforce the merger agreement. On June 16, the company invited Musk to an all-hands meeting, which he (Musk) attended remotely.

July-September 2022:

Unable to come to an agreement over the bot issue, Twitter sued Musk in a Delaware court to enforce the $44 billion deal. The company alleged that Musk’s conduct simply confirmed that he wanted to escape the binding contract he freely signed, and to damage Twitter in the process. A trial date was set for October 17, 2022.

October 2022:

As the trial approached and markets increasingly predicted a verdict in favour of Twitter, Musk said he would resubmit his bid to acquire the company for $54.20 if Twitter agreed to head off a trial. Twitter declined to do so, but Judge Kathaleen McCormick decided to offer the two sides until the end of the month to hammer out an agreement. Around this time, Musk also wrote a note to advertisers, pledging Twitter will not become a “free-for-all hellscape.”

On October 28, Musk officially took over Twitter and promptly fired key executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and policy director Vijaya Gadde.

November 2022:

On November 4, it was reported that employees who helped fight misinformation on the platform were among those laid off. Despite stating that he had not made substantive changes to Twitter's content moderation policies, advertisers declared that they would pull back amid “uncertainty” about Musk’s new strategy.

Further, Musk rolled out plans to start charging users $7.99 for access to Twitter Blue, a service that includes the website’s blue-checkmark verification. The website was instantly overrun with customers over the course of the following two days who purchased blue checkmarks only to later mimic official accounts, including Musk’s.

As impersonators continued to spread, Musk suspended the rollout of the new Twitter Blue programme. Meanwhile, Twitter engineers became increasingly vocal about the changes being made by Musk, and in response, he fired one engineer, then terminated as many as 20 others, including those who criticised him on internal channels.

On November 16, Musk sent a companywide email to remaining employees demanding they commit to working “long hours at high intensity” or receive “three months of severance, if they did not consent to these conditions or support his vision for Twitter 2.0.”

December 2022:

Twitter relaunches Twitter Blue with the premium feature’s fees starting at $8 a month for individuals, with new joiners getting subscriber-only features including Edit Tweet, 1080p video uploads, reader mode, the coveted blue check mark and longer tweets.

January 2023:

Twitter announced that the costs of keeping the ticks start at $1,000 a month for organisations, plus $50 monthly for each affiliate or employee account. Twitter further boosted the character limit for its Blue subscribers to 25,000, from 10,000 earlier.

February 2023:

Twitter announced that it would charge its users to use two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure their accounts via text message. The feature was removed for all those who failed to pay for the authentication feature. As a justification, Musk said that phone number-based 2FAs were being “used and abused by bad actors”.

March 2023:

Musk stated in March that the business would employ artificial intelligence to prevent manipulation of user sentiment on the site. Igor Babuschkin, who departed DeepMind AI, was said to be in talks with Musk about leading a team of researchers working on artificial intelligence at the time, according to a story from The Information.

April and May 2023:

Twitter was merged with Musk’s firm X Corp. Previously, he had indicated that acquiring Twitter would be an accelerant for creating X, an “everything app”.

Further, it was announced that Twitter would allow publishers to charge users on a per article basis starting in May. The move would enable users who do not sign up for a monthly subscription “to pay a higher per article price for when they want to read an occasional article”, Musk tweeted at the time. From this, Twitter would take a 10 per cent cut on content subscriptions after the first year.

June 2023:

Linda Yaccarino took over as Twitter’s new chief executive. She replaced Musk, who was asked by a majority of Twitter users to step down as chief executive in a poll he conducted on his handle.

July 2023:

At the beginning of this month, Musk announced that Twitter would temporarily limit the number of tweets people can read in a day. He followed that up with a Tweet encouraging users to “step away from the phone”.

The announced limits are at 10,000 posts per day for verified users, 1,000 posts per day for unverified users and 500 posts per day for new unverified users, Musk said. A week later, Twitter rolled out a new Tweetdeck format and announced that unverified users would not have access to Tweetdeck by August.

Further, unregistered users who want to view a Twitter profile will be prompted to log in or sign up, while those attempting to view tweets will be met with error messages. On Sunday, 23rd July, in a series of tweets, Musk said that the social platform’s logo would be rebranded. “And soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.”

In the same series of tweets, Musk posted “Paint It Black,” before launching a user poll to “Change default platform colour to black.”

“If a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we’ll go live worldwide tomorrow,” he declared.