Takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk: can the social network really stop?

Takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk: can the social network really stop?

the essential
The takeover of Twitter by multi-billionaire Elon Musk has many users fearing the end of the social network. This Friday, November 18, the hashtag #RIPTwitter has been retweeted tens of thousands of times.

Twitter’s future looked uncertain on Friday, after many of the influential social network’s engineers took Elon Musk at his word and announced they were leaving rather than staying to give their all “unconditionally.” According to former employees and several American media, hundreds of employees answered “no” to the ultimatum of the new owner and boss, who had given them the choice between working tirelessly “to build a revolutionary Twitter 2.0” or leaving. with three months salary.

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Half of the 7,500 employees of the Californian group were already laid off two weeks ago by the multi-billionaire, and some 700 employees had already resigned during the summer, even before being sure that the acquisition would take place.

“Vision is blurred”

“My friends are gone, the vision is blurred, a storm is coming and there is no financial incentive. What would you do? Would you sacrifice your time with your children during the holidays for vague promises and (to) make a rich person even richer?”, summarized Peter Clowes, computer engineer and director at Twitter and “survivor of layoffs”, according to his Linkedin profile.

To be clear I love hard work, I do well with chaos, but I like doing it with people I like, for a mission I care about and ideally with significant upside potential (financial or otherwise) to balance downside risk.

— Peter Clowes (@peterclowes) November 18, 2022

Like many other employees of the Californian group, he detailed his hesitations and the reasons for his choice, explaining that he did not “hate Elon Musk”, that he understood some of the boss’s decisions and wanted to “see Twitter succeed”. But according to him, there are only “three engineers out of the 75” on his team. “If I had stayed, I would have been on duty almost constantly, with very little indefinite support on complex computer systems in which I have no experience,” he notes.

In addition, “no vision has been shared with us. No five-year plan like at Tesla. (…) It’s a pure test of loyalty”, he explains.

“Offices closed”

“What should Twitter do now?” Elon Musk tweeted on Friday. The boss of Tesla wanted to buy the Californian company in the spring, then he no longer wanted it in the summer, and was forced to acquire it at the end of October for 44 billion dollars, to avoid a lawsuit, in l heavily in debt.

Since the takeover, he has mobilized teams day and night on controversial projects, which have had to be postponed. He launched a massive social plan before having to recall essential people and he made promises to advertisers while threatening them. Many users of the social network, including ex-collaborators, journalists and analysts, wonder if the end of Twitter is not near. “And… we just hit a new peak in Twitter usage, lol,” Elon Musk quipped Thursday night.

And … we just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage lol

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022

He also tweeted a skull and crossbones pirate flag and a meme (parody image), showing a man with a blue bird face, posing in front of a tomb also masked with a blue bird, as if Twitter was hilariously witnessing his own funeral.

On Thursday afternoon, Twitter warned all employees that the company’s buildings were temporarily closed and inaccessible, even with a badge, according to an internal letter published by several American media.

“Onward to Bankruptcy”

Thursday evening, anti-Elon Musk messages were projected on the facade of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, right next to the logo, including “Elon Musk, shut up”, “Stop toxic Twitter” or “En before going bankrupt,” according to photos by Gia Vang, a reporter for local NBC.

Dozens of current and especially past employees met Thursday evening in a “Spaces”, the platform’s audio lounges, to support each other and recount memories. Employees who chose to stay spoke of their unwavering attachment to the social network and their desire to see it survive and even be reborn. “Bravo to all Twitter workers. You have built a vital place of connection and you deserved so much better. (…) Thank you”, tweeted the elected Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while indicating where the find on other platforms, if ever that was the end of the tweeting network.

Shout out to all the workers at Twitter. You all built a vital place for connection and deserved so much better.

Millions of people appreciate the space you built and the hard work that went into it. Thank you ud83dudc99

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 18, 2022

Other elected officials and regulators have reacted, worried in particular about the idea that the service’s ability to moderate content is compromised. US senators have warned that Elon Musk’s plans “undermine the integrity and security of the platform”. The multi-billionaire “will not be able to do what he wants” in Europe, hammered Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, on franceinfo on Friday. “He knows what the conditions are for continuing to operate Twitter in Europe,” he added, insisting on the need to recruit more moderators instead of firing them.