It’s no news for a business person who doubled their fortune to buy TV channels, newspapers, magazines or media firms. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff bought Time in 2018. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013 and finally Twitter became Elon Musk’s own newspaper & television.
I started writing this article a week ago, but I have been unable to finish until today. The future of Twitter has never been so talked about on Twitter, and it has never been such a hot topic in itself. The topic has expanded to the blue checkmark, the decision of Twitter Blue from $20 to $8, politics, Senate members, China, Taiwan, unfair dismissals, national security risk and much more.
In the words of one of my friends with whom I chatted about the subject, Elon was responding to people 24 hours a day, like the guys in internet cafes, and the level of disregard for rules and courtesy was increasing every second. Musk had changed his status on the platform as Chief Tweet & Tweet Head, but as I was finishing this article, he updated it to Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator. In the end, the subject came to the decision of the American government to investigate the new owners of Twitter due to the national security risk.
So how did it get to this point?
Let’s rewind a little. My aim is to draw attention to how and why Elon Musk uses Twitter as a user himself. Since 2019, Elon Musk has been an active user who has caused both positive and negative changes for the masses and some platforms, even cryptocurrencies, and of course, his own companies. He has 114 million followers. He has used Twitter extensively to market all his brands for almost free, with his faults and merits as a CEO.
Twitter is a very important channel for brands to create fans. Twitter is consumed from every corner of the world, maybe not every country or company. It is also the news platform of choice for most founders, executives and journalists who have the power to influence news. Owning Twitter also means that Musk, with 114 million followers, will always check these areas. In a week, Elon’s number of followers increased by 2 million.
Elon, who trolled Twitter before he bought it, now both controls and trolls it. He applies marketing tactics that are off-balance sheet for Tesla, SpaceX and all the other companies he founded. Automakers like TESLA usually spend 2-3% of their revenue on marketing. TESLA has no marketing or advertising expenses. Let’s draw attention here again by saying that Ford, Kia, GM, Hyundai, Subaru and Ferrari spent a total of $10 billion on advertising in 2021.
On the other hand, every major media firm and social network can, and does, eventually make editorial decisions. And influencing a social media product’s algorithm is nothing new. TikTok is known to prioritize certain content and accounts in its algorithm, and so does Instagram. What about Twitter?
Elon is perhaps the most important person on Twitter…
I just wrote that in just one week, the number of Elon’s followers increased by 2 million. Elon Musk can get all the new users on Twitter to follow him and use his power to influence the masses. In addition, he can arbitrarily interfere with the algorithm so that he and his companies or the people he supports will stand out.
Buying a social media giant is about more than making it better, especially with Musk, who does not hide his closeness with right wing, conservative Republicans in the US. He is clearly in favor of China in the complex trade relations between China, Taiwan and USA. His moves that surprised everyone in the Russia-Ukraine war shows that there is much more to it making Twitter a place with more freedom of speech. It puts the stench up to our noses.
Could Twitter be a Super App for Users?
The evolution of other social media products is one of the biggest opportunities for Elon Musk and Twitter. In his tweets, we understand that he will bring the Vine platform back. Twitter will also make a change in video revenues based on the Youtube revenue model. While Instagram, Facebook and Youtube have undergone many structural changes over the years for both its users and advertisers, the basic consumer-oriented side of Twitter has not undergone any updates in ten years.
We clearly see that Elon plans to change that. As a first step, it enabled non-Twitter users to access the content flow as soon as they entered the page. TikTok similarly opens directly to the content stream and never requires a login. Vine, which was ostensibly TikTok before TikTok existed, was acquired by Twitter in 2012 and then shut down in 2016. We understand that Elon will bring Vine back, but we do not know whether he will do it in this medium or on a separate platform. It seems that there will be a single Twitter that will cover many things, because it will have an app for everything. This includes payments made via Twitter.
I am 100% confident that we will see Crypto payment on Twitter, which is almost the main channel of the Web3 world, its people, companies, start-ups, media firms, large and small influencers. I look forward to seeing who Elon will collaborate with on this space. Instead of Metamask, Twitter can even issue a crypto wallet. We are talking about a billion-dollar market where brand-influencer marketing expenditures are returned through DMs. Wallet addresses are shared by DMs. Detecting this should not be difficult for Twitter, or rather for Tesla engineers, who are assigned to review the codes. At this point, I don’t think it’s possible for Twitter to remain just a “postman” with Elon’s new management approach.
In addition, Elon, one of the most influential social media users in the world, is constantly scratching other power users about what he expects from the product. He is, for example, already forming a coalition with Mr. Beast, the world’s largest Youtube content producer.
I’ve already said that owning Twitter gives Elon’s other companies a clear marketing advantage, and I will add more. Twitter’s structure will serve as a funnel for Elon to build other consumer products over time. We’ll see if Elon makes it one of the biggest social platforms to not only keep people in touch with their friends and entertain them with videos, but also mediate hundreds of billions of dollars in payments, food delivery, travel reservations, and e-commerce transactions.
I would like to touch on the slightly worse smelling parts of this deal. Social media platforms with global reach pose more and more serious risks. Moreover, these risks are not the socks that technology has knitted on us, but are entirely due to human decisions and coordination errors. Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook? We’re in a time where we wouldn’t be surprised if some countries ban or misuse Twitter to control hate speech and misinformation efforts.
Three to four days before Musk turns on non-authentication verification to his entire website prior to the national election, Twitter fires half its staff, including a large part of its content moderation team. There are millions in America right now who think that this is not a coincidence. Again, while I was trying to complete this article, a new piece of news is that some employees who were fired from Twitter on Friday morning have been recalled.
NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins commented on all these crazy developments and tweeted about Elon Musk: “Cosmically stupid or historically malicious? The unanswered, repetitive question of our time.”
As much as Musk’s actions have controversial aspects from a commercial point of view, it is now clear that it is about politics for him, especially his effort to endear himself to the American right and Beijing.
As tensions between China and Taiwan simmer at the highest point in decades, it was again Musk who set them against each other. Stop getting involved in people’s businesses, I think you said. Of course, he does not stir things just for pleasure. TESLA Giga factory is the biggest factor affecting Musk and China relations. He has to be on good terms with China. China’s Ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, thanked him for his proposal in a tweet on Saturday, calling for “peaceful unity, one country, two systems.”
Taiwan’s US representative, Bi-khim Hsiao, on the other hand, remained unresponsive in the face of these strange developments. He wrote: “Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale.”
“Which Elon Musk do you like more?” President of Ukraine Zelensky asked two-choice questions with a survey he organized to his Twitter followers.
“Elon Musk supporting Ukraine” or “Elon Musk supporting Russia”
A recent report in the Washington Post raised the suspicion of a national security risk beyond political, consumer or commercial risks.
The US government is investigating whether Elon Musk has the legal authority to review the terms of the Twitter acquisition agreement. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News)
Sources close to this subject told the Washington Post that US officials are considering whether to open an official investigation into Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, sharing that they are skeptical about the privileges granted to large foreign investors under the deal.
These foreign investors include a Saudi prince’s holding company, a subsidiary of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, and Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange founded in China that is relocating its operations.
Experts on the foreign investor review process say it’s likely to be particularly risky if any of Musk’s foreign investors have special privileges to access personal data about Twitter users. Those who invest $250 million or more in Musk’s acquisition of Twitter have access to information beyond what a lower-level investor can get. Saudi, Qatari funds and Binance have invested over $250 million, but what this additional access entails for them is currently unknown. If an investigation is opened, we will find out together.
The statement from the National Security Agency is pretty clear on this:
“We should be concerned that the Saudis, who have a clear interest in suppressing political speech and influencing US politics, are now the second largest owner of a major social media platform.”
In other words, as a result of high-level developments in every field, Musk stood up for everyone at once. Right now, US politicians, FBI, users, journalists, right-wingers, leftists, Republicans, liberals, artists (I recommend you to also take a look at Tweets from Keanu Reeves and Stephen King), company owners, Twitter employees who were fired or not fired- everyone, I mean absolutely everyone expresses their opinion, some are blocked, some people’s accounts are subject to suspension.
Musk and his lawyer, Alex Spiro, did not immediately respond to the government’s national risk assessment. Aside from that, I can’t help but think that being the lawyer of Mr. Musk, who has been making rude answers to everyone, including the US president, jokingly, must have been hell for the last 2 weeks or vice versa. As someone who has observed this democratic environment in America, it is a fact that some things are very easy here and not so much cared about. The balance between these difficult things and these easy and not-so-much-cared-about things is very volatile. That’s why, when talking to each other, I’m talking about a social structure that has held the balance between being rude and being judgmental with a perfect falsehood-sincerity contradiction. Elon has learned this very well over the years. We can say “He is real American”.
Latest news : A class action lawsuit has been filed against Twitter against mass layoffs
Last week was his first full week as Twitter’s boss after Elon’s $44 billion acquisition. There were rumors that massive layoffs were on the way. It turned out to be true. Warning emails, unsigned by anyone, were sent to staff to be fired last Thursday night. When people woke up, they found that their access was revoked. A class action lawsuit was filed alleging that Twitter did not follow appropriate legal processes at this stage.
In addition, news of layoffs continued to pour in in the tech industry due to the signals of an approaching recession in the United States. It is not a coincidence that it coincides with the same timeline. In short, Lyft removed 13% of its employees and Stripe 14%. Recruitment freezes have also been reported at Apple and Amazon.
Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey has finally broken his silence on these issues, placing himself responsible for the Twitter employees being in this situation.
In the tweet he shared on Saturday morning, he wrote exactly: “I am aware that many of the Twitter staff are angry with me. It’s my responsibility that everyone is in this situation: I’ve grown the company so fast. I’m sorry for that.”
In the past, Dorsey has pointed to Musk as the only solution he sees for Twitter.
I interpret this cliché that we grew this company too quickly as supporting Elon Musk as the new CEO.
Elon Musk said in a statement after the dismissals;
“As the company is losing more than $4 million a day, unfortunately, there is no other option. Everyone who debuted was offered 3 months severance pay, 50% more than legally required.”
It was also in the news today that some of the employees who gave the blue click refused the requests, but later sold the blue click feature for $ 15,000, but there is no evidence yet.
How will all these crazy and trust-breaking developments affect us as users, or even a tech worker or a citizen who just doesn’t use Twitter? Will people know what happened to them is because of a social media platform they don’t even use? How will politics, economy, Bitcoin, DogeCoin, Web3 economy, elections, national security, world trade and politics be affected? Having the answers to all these important questions in the hands of one person is unfair and not very nice. If you’re on the side that says “Facebook has come this far, so nothing will happen”, you may want to reconsider. It was extremely exciting and difficult to follow these complex relationships and controversial issues in a week and edit them constantly. I’ve never been able to get into the blue click issue, but that topic seems light compared to other issues.
We’ll see together whether BlueSky, which Dorsey is working on and which is claimed to be the new generation social platform, is the next generation Twitter that will solve these problems and offer us the opportunity to intervene as users.