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Twitter is an online service that lets users send and read short messages called “tweets”. The site is used by celebrities, brands and journalists to distribute news directly to their fans. The site was launched in July 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013. The company was purchased by Elon Musk, for $44 billion, in September 2022.

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26 Jan, 2023

Musk denies Twitter use hurts Tesla, expects share price recovery

Earnings Call0 Comments

On an Earnings Call with investors [transcript], Musk rejects that his political influencing on Twitter is hurting Tesla’s brand.

Since Elon started political influencing, polls from Morning Consult & YouGov show Tesla brand favorability declining in 2022 and division along partisan lines. Such brand damage can impact demand. Does Tesla track favorability and how will any brand damage be mitigated?

Musk replies by citing his own popularity on Twitter:

Well, let me check my Twitter account (pause as he appears to actually pull out his phone). So I got 127 million followers and it continues to grow rapidly. That suggests that I’m reasonably popular. Now I might not be popular with some people, but for the vast majority of people, my follower count speaks for itself. I have the most interacted social account maybe in the world – certainly on Twitter.

And then talking about his impact on the brand:

I think Twitter is actually an incredibly powerful tool for driving demand for Tesla…I would really encourage companies out there of all kinds, automotive or otherwise, to make more use of Twitter and to use their Twitter accounts in ways that are interesting and informative, entertaining, and it will help them drive sales just as it has with Tesla.

Musk says he expects Tesla’s share price to recover over the long-term, though warned that he anticipated a “pretty difficult recession” in 2023 which could lead to setbacks.

We think demand will be good despite, probably, a contraction in the automotive market as a whole…There’s going to be bumps along the way and we’ll probably have a pretty difficult recession this year, probably. I hope not, but probably.

24 Jan, 2023

Crown Estate sues Twitter for London HQ back rent

Court filing0 Comments

Britain’s Crown Estate, an independent commercial business that manages the property portfolio belonging to the UK monarchy, issues court proceedings to Musk’s Twitter for rental arrears, in relation to an office space close to London’s Piccadilly Circus. In December, Musk stopped paying rent on all of Twitter’s office space around the world, including its headquarters, in a cost-cutting effort.

21 Jan, 2023

Musk: Twitter to launch ad-free subscription tier

Announcement0 Comments

Musk says Twitter is planning an advertising-free version of its subscription product. Increasing subscription revenue is a key part of the social media platform’s business plan under his ownership.

There will be a higher priced subscription that allows zero ads.

5 Jan, 2023

Twitter votes for Musk to keep talking about politics

Poll result0 Comments

Musk runs a Twitter poll, asking users if he should either ‘Stay out of politics’ or ‘Keep shooting his feet’, with the result that 57.2% voted for the latter option. 595,182 votes were cast.

Musk responds to the poll, saying:

Ouch my feet!

3 Jan, 2023

The Twitter Files 11: How Twitter Let the Intelligence Community In

Document release0 Comments

Musk, through Taibbi, releases The Twitter Files: How Twitter Let the Intelligence Community In, which further details Twitter’s relationship with Intellignce angencies, such as the FBI.

Taibbi says that in August 2017, when Facebook decided to suspend 300 accounts with “suspected Russian origin”, that Twitter’s leaders were sure they didn’t have a Russia problem, noting that while Facebook had issues with “hundreds of accounts”, Twitter only had issues with around 25. The company’s PR strategy was to deflect to Facebook’s problems. Public Policy VP Colin Crowell:

Twitter is not the focus of inquiry into Russian election meddling right now – the spotlight is on FB

In September 2017, after a manual examination, Twitter informed the senate it suspended 22 possibel Russian accoutns and 179 others with “possible links” to those. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia – ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee – held an immediate press conference to denounce Twitter’s report as “frankly inadequate on every level.”

After meeting with congressional leaders, Crowell wrote:

Warner has political incentive to keep this issue at top of the news, maintain pressure on us and rest of industry to keep producing material for them.

Cromwell also said that Democracts were taking cues from Hillary Clinton, who that week said:

It’s time for Twitter to stop dragging its heels and live up to the fact that its platform is being used as a tool for cyber-warfare.

Twitter formed a “Russia Task Force” to proactively self-investigate. Bu despite forming a “Russia Taks fForce”, which worked with data shared form Facebook, investigatinge accounts supposedly tied to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), the research came to nothing.

Oct 13, 2017: No evidence of a coordinated approach, all of the accounts found seem to be lone-wolf type activity (different timing, spend, targeting, <$10k in ad spend).

Oct 14, 2017: First round of RU investigation… 15 high risk accounts, 3 of which have connections with Russia, although 2 are RT.

Oct 20. 2017: Built new version of the model that is lower precision but higher recall which allows to catch more items. We aren’t seeing substantially more suspicious accounts. We expect to find ~20 with a small amount of spend.

Oct 23, 2017: Finished with investigation… 2500 full manual account reviews, we think this is exhaustive… 32 suspicious accounts and only 17 of those are connected with Russia, only 2 of those have significant spend one of which is Russia Today…remaining <$10k in spend.

According to Taibbi, the Taks Force’s failure deepened the company’s PR crisis: Following Warner’s press conference, stories sourced to the Intel Committee “poured” into the news, inlcuding a story Politico that said “Twitter deleted data potentially crucial to Russia probes.” Johns Hopkins Professor (and Intel Committee “expert”) Thomas Rid:

Were Twitter a contractor for the FSB… they could not have built a more effective disinformation platform.

In Washington weeks after the first briefing, Twitter leaders were told by Senate staff that “Sen Warner feels like tech industry was in denial for months.” Added an Intel staffer said there was “Big interest in Politico article about deleted accounts.”

As this pressure rose, Taibbi says the company changed its tune and Twitter “pledged to work with them on their desire to legislate”. However, even as Twitter prepared to change its ads policy and remove RT and Sputnik to placate Washington, congress turned the heat up more, apparently leaking the larger, base list of 2700 accounts.

Reporters started to call Twitter about Russia links. Buzzfeed, working with the University of Sheffield, claimed to find a “new network” on Twitter that had “close connections to… Russian-linked bot accounts.” but the company internally did not want to endorse the Buzzfeed/Sheffield findings, saying “it will only embolden them”. Twitter apologised to the for the same accounts they’d initially told the Senate were not a problem.

Taibbi says this This cycle – threatened legislation, wedded to scare headlines pushed by congressional/intel sources, followed by Twitter caving to moderation asks – would later be formalized in partnerships with federal law enforcement. The company settled on it’s prosture: In public, it removed content “at our sole discretion.” Privately, they would “off-board” anything “identified by the U.S. intelligence community as a state-sponsored entity conducting cyber-operations.” Crowell, in an email to the company’s leaders:

We will not be reverting to the status quo.

21 Dec, 2022

Musk: Twitter to break even in 2023

Interview0 Comments

Musk explains Twitter’s financial situtaion during a Twitter Spaces chat, saying that after cutting staff and costs, Twitter is now on track to bring in around $3 billion in revenue in 2023 – roughly $2 billion less than the $5.1 billion reported at the end of 2021, while the company has $1 billion in cash on its balance sheet. He in part blamed the $12.5 billion in debt tied to his April agreement to buy the company, as well as the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate hikes.

[It was like being] in a plane that is headed towards the ground at high speed with the engine on fire and the controls don’t work…With the changes that we’re making here on massively reducing the burn rate and building subscriber revenue, I now think that Twitter will, in fact, be OK next year, I think we will be…roughly cash-flow break-even — that’s what I expect for next year.

He says advertisers have been asking “sane” but “tough” questions about their return on investment,

[Decisions] may seem sometimes spurious or odd or whatever. It’s because we have an emergency fire drill on our hands. That’s the reason. Not because I’m naturally capricious. Or at least, aspirationally, I’m not naturally capricious.

Elon Musk Discusses Twitter Tech Stack, Free Speech and Looming Bankruptcy in Twitter Space 12/21/22

Musk to step down as Twitter CEO once replacement found

Makes Statement0 Comments

Following the poll where Twitter users said they wanted him to step down as CEO, Musk says he will leave the position once a replacement has been found.

I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.

Twitter users vote to remove Musk as CEO

0 Comments

In answer to Musk’s Twitter poll on whether he should remain as Twitter’s CEO, 57.5% of the 17.5 million votes cast say that he should step down.

Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.

In answer to a user’s question, Musk says there is no successor planned:

No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.

18 Dec, 2022

Twitter removes phone type from Tweets

Design Change0 Comments

Musk reacts to Twitter removing the ability to see which device a tweet comes from [Twitter for iPhone, Twitter for Android].

Hallelujah!!

15 Dec, 2022

Twitter suspends @ElonJet account, Musk to take legal action

Social media ban0 Comments

Despite earlier vowing to allow the account that tracks his private jet to continue on Twitter, Musk bans the @elonjet account and says he will take legal action against Jack Sweeney, the accounts owner. Musk had previously offered Sweeney $5000 to delete the account.

Any account doxxing real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled to on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok. Last night, car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood. Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family.

For hours after the suspension of the @elonjet account, other Sweeney-run accounts tracking private jets used by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and various Russian oligarchs were still live on Twitter. But by later on Wednesday, Twitter suspended all of them, including Sweeney’s personal account of Jack Sweeney. Twitter’s Help Center tweeted an updated media policy that begins: “You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission.”

13 Dec, 2022

Twitter dissolves Trust and Safety Council

Fired0 Comments

Twitter dissolves its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of nearly 100 independent civil, human rights and other organisations which had been formed by the company in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform. Twitter informed the group via email shortly before a meeting, scheduled for the night of Dec 13, was to take place, that it was disbanding it. Last week, three council members resigned. Email:

Our work to make Twitter a safe, informative place will be moving faster and more aggressively than ever before, and we will continue to welcome your ideas going forward about how to achieve this goal.

11 Dec, 2022

The Twitter Files 4 – The Removal of Donald Trump (Post Jan 7)

Document release0 Comments

Following the release of The Twitter Files Part 3, which detailed senior Twitter staff’s actions up to January 7, 2021, Musk, through Shellenberger, releases The Twitter Files Part 4: The removal of Donald Trump: January 7. The files details how Twitter staff  created justifications and unique policy changes so they could ban President Trump from the platform, while having no consideration for free speech issues.

After Jan 6, Michelle Obama; tech journalist Kara Swisher; the Anti-Defamation League, and many others called for Trump to be banned from Twitter. At that time, CEO Jack Dorsey was on vacation in French Polynesia and left the handling to Yoel Roth (Global Head of Trust and Safety) and Vijaya Gadde (Head off Legal, Policy & Trust).

Schellenberger notes that in 2018, 2020, and 2022, 96%, 98%, & 99% of Twitter staff’s political donations went to Democrats and that Roth had previously tweeted that there were “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE”.

On Jan 7, Dorsey emails employees to say Twitter should remain consistent in its policies, including the right of users to return to Twitter after a temporary suspension. Around 11:30am PT Roth shares with colleagues that Dorsey had approved a system where five violations (“strikes”) would result in permanent suspension.

GUESS WHAT. Jack just approved repeat offender for civic integrity.

At this point, Trump had four strikes.

On Jan 8, Twitter announces a permanent ban on Trump due to the “risk of further incitement of violence”. Twitter says its ban is based on “specifically how [Trump’s tweets] are being received & interpreted”, despite the company saying in 2019 that it did “not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.”

Shellenberger notes that the only serious concern expressed within Twitter over the implications for free speech and democracy of banning Trump came from a junior person in the organization.

This might be an unpopular opinion but one off ad hoc decisions like this that don’t appear rooted in policy are imho a slippery slope… This now appears to be a fiat by an online platform CEO with a global presence that can gatekeep speech for the entire world…

Roth then asks colleagues to add “stopthesteal” & [QAnon conspiracy term] “kraken” to a blacklist of terms to be deamplified. Roth’s colleague objects that blacklisting “stopthesteal” risks “deamplifying counterspeech” that validates the election. Other employees note that Kraken is the name of a cryptocurrency exchange and allowlist it. Other struggle with shared screenshots of Trump’s tweet.

Around noon, a confused senior executive in advertising sales sends a DM to Roth.

jack says: ‘we will permanently suspend [Trump] if our policies are violated after a 12 hour account lock’… what policies is jack talking about?”

Roth replies:

*ANY* policy violation

The executive then asks if Twitter is dropping its “Public-interest exceptions” policy, which allows the content of elected officials, even if it violates Twitter rules, “if it directly contributes to understanding or discussion of a matter of public concern”. Six hours later, at 7:18pm, Roth replies:

In this specific case, we’re changing our public interest approach for his account to say any violation would result in suspension.

At 12:27am Roth pushes for a permanent suspension of Rep. Matt Gaetz even though it

doesn’t quite fit anywhere (duh)…I’m trying to talk [Twitter’s] safety [team] into… removal as a conspiracy that incites violence.

Around 2:30, comms execs DM Roth to say they don’t want to make a big deal of the QAnon ban to the media because they fear “if we push this it looks we’re trying to offer up something in place of the thing everyone wants,” meaning a Trump ban.

After an engineer expresses concerns that Trump’s account is being treated differently to others, Roth says:

To put a different spin on it: policy is one part of the system of how Twitter works… we ran into the world changing faster than we were able to either adapt the product or the policy.”

10 Dec, 2022

The Twitter Files 3 – The Removal of Donald Trump (Pre-Jan 6)

Document release1 Comments

Musk, through Taibbi, releases the third installment of The Twitter Files, titled THE REMOVAL OF DONALD TRUMP Part One: October 2020-January 6th.

The world knows much of the story of what happened between riots at the Capitol on January 6th, and the removal of President Donald Trump from Twitter on January 8th. We’ll show you what hasn’t been revealed: the erosion of standards within the company in months before J6, decisions by high-ranking executives to violate their own policies, and more, against the backdrop of ongoing, documented interaction with federal agencies. This first installment covers the period before the election through January 6th.

Taibbi provides internal Twitter messages indicating that as the election approached, senior executives – perhaps under pressure from federal agencies, with whom they met more as time progressed – increasingly struggled with Twitter’s rules, and began to speak of “vios” (violations) as pretexts to do what they’d likely have done anyway.

As described in Twitter Files 2, a core group, working above and outside of Twitter’s standard content moderation rules, would make ad hoc decisions on VITs (Very Important Tweeters).

Messages from Yoel Roth (Head of Trust & Safety) show he met weekly with the FBI, DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Regarding the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story ban, Roth told those agencies:

We blocked the NYP story, then unblocked it (but said the opposite)… comms is angry, reporters think we’re idiots… in short, FML (f*ck my life).

Based on alerts sent by the FBI, Roth flagged tweets with warning labels. Taibbi says he could not find any such requests from Trump’s team or Republicans:

Examining the entire election enforcement Slack, we didn’t see one reference to moderation requests from the Trump campaign, the Trump White House, or Republicans generally. We looked. They may exist: we were told they do. However, they were absent here.

In addition to issues with Trump, Taibbi also recounts a long discussion about a joke made by Mike Huckabee about mailing in fake ballots and conversations promising to hit the actor James Woods “hard” in future, even though he had not violated any rules. Meanwhile, disputed pro-Biden tweets were approved.

Regarding Trump, Taibbi says that Twitter attached automated control “bots” to his account, which triggered automated moderation actions. Taibi says that all these bots and rules were abandoned on January 6.

The firm’s executives on day 1 of the January 6th crisis at least tried to pay lip service to its dizzying array of rules. By day 2, they began wavering. By day 3, a million rules were reduced to one: what we say, goes

Around 3:30 PST on Jan 6, Roth “bounced” (put in a 12 hr timeout) three of Trump’s tweets. A company-wide email was sent by Gadde explaining that future violations would result in a permanent suspension.

After Trump tweeted “Go home with love & in peace” mid-riot, Twitter staff wrote:

What the actual f*uck? Sorry, I actually got emotionally angry seeing that. Turns out I’m not a full robot. Who knew?

Taibbi concludes:

By the end of the first day, the top execs are still trying to apply rules. By the next day, they will contemplate a major change in approach.

Taibi says more files will be released over the coming days.

9 Dec, 2022

Elton John quits Twitter, Musk responds

Quits social media0 Comments

John says he is leaving Twitter:

All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world.   I’ve decided to no longer use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.

Musk responds:

I love your music. Hope you come back. Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?

6 Dec, 2022

Musk rejects Twitter HQ bed complaint

Makes Statement0 Comments

Musk criticises San Francisco Mayor Breed over an investigation by the city’s Department of Building Inspections into offices turned into bedrooms at Twitter’s headquarters, which officials say potentially violate the building code. Musk says that, instead of attacking him, the city should prioritise protecting children from the consequences of opioid drug misuse.

So city of SF attacks companies providing beds for tired employees instead of making sure kids are safe from fentanyl. Where are your priorities @LondonBreed!?

3 Dec, 2022

The Twitter Files 1: How and why Twitter blocked the Hunter Biden laptop story

Makes Statement0 Comments

Musk releases The Twitter Files, Part One: How and Why Twitter Blocked the Hunter Biden Laptop Story, though journalist Matt Taibbi. In a 30-plus post thread, Taibbi relates how Twitter executives blocked the New York Post’s October 14, 2020, Hunter Biden laptop story, using the excuse that it was ‘hacked’, despite having received no notification or confirmation from law enforcement that the laptop actually was hacked. The posts were given warnings and were blocked from being to be shared on Twitter’s direct message system. Taibbi says that executives did this without CEO Dorsey’s knowledge.

The posts details how political parties were able to contact Twitter executives to censor stories, and show communications between ex-staff, including Gadde, Roth, discussing the block.

2 Dec, 2022

Musk bans West from Twitter: ‘I tried my best’

Social media ban0 Comments

After West posts an image of a swastika inside a Star of David…

…and an image of Musk half- naked, Musk says that the latter is fine, but the swastika/star ‘is not’ and that West will be suspended for ‘incitement to violence’

I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.

West then posted a screenshot of his Twitter ban message on TruthSocial. Musk appeared to comment on the ban by later posting:

FAFO [F*ck around, find out]

30 Nov, 2022

Musk: Twitter feud with Apple ‘resolved’

0 Comments

Musk says that, after a walk around Apple’s HQ with Cook, that the ‘misunderstanding’ that Twitter would be removed form the App Store has been ‘resolved’

Good conversation. Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so.

Musk did not say if Apple’s advertising was discussed at the meeting.

Roth: Musk running Twitter ‘like a dictator’

Makes Statement0 Comments

Speaking at an event hosted by the Knight Foundation, Roth, the former head of Trust and Saftey at Twitter, says the social networking site had started to stray from adhering to publicly available policies towards decisions made by Musk alone.