We’ve decoded Twitter, so you don’t have to

When it comes to Twitter and a certain *ahem* Elon Musk, the mind boggles. It’s been a long and arduous few months of waiting to learn the fate of the platform; the fate of all of our accounts and communities. We totally get how seeing sporadic news stories is hardly a holistic view of what’s going on. So we wanted to help our fellow tweeters out by sharing a definitive guide on everything that’s happened. SO FAR (cue eye roll).

A sinking feeling

The day that Mr Musk, or how he now prefers to be called, ‘Chief Twit’, officially took over Twitter. Our feeds were full of sink memes – whilst Twitter’s staff were full of sinking feelings at what this would mean for their job security. All we could do was speculate about what was to come.

 We’ve decoded Twitter, so you don’t have to

The profitability agenda

Immediately upon his arrival into the company, Musk fired over 50% of the global workforce to increase profit margins. According to tweets by employees that were let go, the teams impacted were: product trust and safety, policy, communications, tweet curation, ethical AI, data science, research, machine learning, social good, accessibility, and even some of those in core engineering roles. He locked EVERYONE out of their computers, emails and offices while they awaited their fate. This immediately raises questions as to the future performance capabilities of the platform (e.g. keeping people safe online). There’s physically not enough staff to provide the full, previous level of service and functionality. Even now, he’s still going with his culling of staff – having recently cut another 200 people from the remaining workforce.

Gold, grey and blue

In his quest to make Twitter more profitable, Musk wanted users to pay for their blue verification tick, rather than earning them. Something that once served a purpose of authentication was now rendered redundant. I’m sure you can guess what happened next – lots of spam accounts claiming to be celebrities and businesses. Due to this mishap, grey and gold ticks were introduced to clear up any confusion. So, whenever you see the gold and grey ticks, they now mean the real deal, blue does not. I’ll take a green if it’s going?

Users and advertisers take caution

There are some pretty serious changes that have been implemented. BUT FIRST, who else gets a tweet on their phone every day from Elon Musk, despite not following him? Yep, he did that. He changed the algorithm to increase his organic engagement.

God complex aside, there are a number of changes that we need to be aware of:

  1. You can no longer link to other social media platforms such as Instagram or LinkedIn in your posts
  2. Third party apps aren’t compatible with Twitter, such as Tweetbot and Birdie
  3. They changed the algorithm so you see your friends less, and their Twitter recommendations more
  4. He VERY controversially gave some *naughty* people their accounts back – which implies wide-ranging implications for the views circulating on Twitter, particularly those that divide society
  5. It’s not happened YET, but Musk has also decided to change the character limit from 280 to 10,000… so I might tweet this blog
  6. If you pay, you are promised new features such as an edit button (although this hasn’t happened yet) – and your posts are prioritised in the feed

Free speech is a MUSK

… until it isn’t. Last week, Musk caused a rightful uproar after labelling a disabled Twitter employee ‘the worst’. It came after an exchange between the two, when employee Halli Thorleifsson claimed that Twitter’s own HR team could not confirm whether he was even employed by them anymore. Yikes. Musk was later forced to apologise for his wrongdoing. Free speech has long been Elon Musk’s fantasy for Twitter. He proclaimed that it was too left-leaning, which is what encouraged the reinstating of certain accounts. This has brought up questions around the definition of free speech among Twitter theorists. If his platform is being paid for by people who want to spread toxicity and ultimately drive different viewpoints away from Twitter, will it ever truly be a platform for free speech? Something Elon might want to think about over his next coffee.

Right, I think we’ve made it through! Thanks for sticking with me.

SO, what does this mean for us as communicators and advertisers? The main thing that concerns me as an advertiser, and brand protector for my client partners, is the lack of Twitter resources involved in monitoring and moderating content. That raises alarm bells, because a company can easily be associated with something that does not align with their brand values – and that could be detrimental to their brand reputation.

My recommendation is to stay at arm’s length, keep your money in your pocket and be extra vigilant when you are posting (organically!) on the platform.

Want some advice? DM me on social or email me!