Twitter is the place you want to go for news, witness politicians go batshit crazy, see crypto shills talking like godsend messiahs of humanity, LOL at trolls in action, or just hate on others. But under the leadership of its new chief twit — Elon Musk, the billionaire with a lot of kids and serious online manchild problems, the good ol' blue app looks royally screwed.
Let's start from the start. Our guy apparently decided to buy Twitter based on the sentiments of his 127+ million followers, of which nearly half are probably bots. If life has taught me one profound lesson, it is "never go to Twitter for an honest poll."
Fast forward a few months later, Musk decided to buy Twitter for $44 billion, valuing the shares at $54.20 a pop. See the $420 joke there? Our guy loves them, even though he tells the court that his recurring love for "420" is no joke.
By the way, a ton of real market experts called it way, way overpriced. After all, Twitter has only returned a profit only a few times in its entire history. Lord Musk apparently realized it a bit late, started shouting that Twitter lied to him about the real number of bot accounts on the platform, and wanted to chicken out of the deal.
The drama went to court, but after reading a bajillion notes from actual experts about his slim chances, Musk signed the acquisition papers at the last moment. Soon after, he entered the Twitter headquarters carrying a sink in his hands. Let that sink in?(!)
The new CEO then started firing folks left, right, and center. From top minds in critical roles to the entire board, Musk only spared one-third of the original workforce. Twitter India fired over 90% of its staff, by the way.
Then started the daydreams and the galactic product botches. All of a sudden, the platform witnessed a spike in the rate of abusive content, even though Twitter denied it. But that was just the start of how ugly things are going to get for the average user like you or me.
In the name of his free speech absolutism, Musk decided to bring back all the accounts that were handed a permanent ban for raising some serious hell. While Donald Trump and Kanye West were the famous names on the list, Musk brought back some real pieces of shit that did nothing but spread hoaxes, hate, and conspiracy theories.
As many had warned, the move would bite Musk on his rich arse, sooner or later. Like clockwork, Kanye went on an anti-semitic rant and soon tweeted a meme-worthy picture of shirtless Musk to roast his billionaire buddy. Musk got the message and again condemned Ye to a suspension hell with a message: FAFO! For the innocent folks out there, it means, "Fuck Around, Find Out!"
Next was Twitter Blue, an $8 per month service that gives you a blue check. In the pre-Musk era, Twitter only bestowed the verified checkmark on accounts that were either important, or influential enough, that an impersonator account could do some damage to.
Twitter used to perform rigorous identity checks, but Musk said that wouldn't be necessary if you pay him eight dollars each month. Talk about bending the rules with a few Benjamins in your pocket.
For Musk, that old strategy, which had been abused only in the case of rare hacks, wasn't working. It was a "lords and peasants" system. For a fixed payment, Musk wanted to solve the problem of equal status on Twitter. It was a utopian goal, and again, it backfired royally.
Soon, bad actors started purchasing a blue check mark to impersonate companies and personalities. And it raised quite some hell on the platform in just a couple of days. Some online Robin Hood got himself a verified account impersonating the pharma company Eli Lilly, tweeted something about "Free Insulin," and set the internet on fire.
Eli Lilly reportedly sustained a loss of around $15 billion in its market value, all because Musk allowed some Satan-mentored human to purchase a verified checkmark, which is seen as a sign of trust by the rest of non-important Twitter users to get credible information.
Imagine if someone tried to impersonate a local police or disaster alert body with a lookalike username and a frikkin checkmark. Yeah, it would cause some commotion. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet, because there is still some humanity left inside the billions of internet users out there.
Thank you, human beings!
Musk canceled the rollout of Twitter Blue in the wake of the fiasco, added an identity verification protocol, and re-launched it. But all was not fixed. Twitter soon added a view counter, because apparently, the number of likes wasn't already enough to give us anxiety about our online popularity.
In an era where Instagram is letting users hide the like counter for the sake of their mental health, Twitter is giving you more reason to overthink about your social acceptance with a view counter. Good job there, Ser Musk! NOT!
Also, that view counter has made the UI even more crowded, and it looks plain terrible. However, the Twitter Blue shitshow is not stopping there. Twitter has started giving a grey check to government institutions and personalities, while private brands and companies will get a gold checkmark.
Now, Musk wants to milk more money from businesses to let them have a gold checkmark, which they have to pay for, because some bad actor might impersonate them and cause some real financial damage. But the amount Musk plans to charge is a little too high.
The Information reports that Twitter has started emailing businesses, selling them gold checkmarks for a sweet, sweet price of just $1,000 per month. Plus, if you want one of your employees to show their affiliation, Twitter needs an additional $50 per account each month.
For context, when Twitter Blue first started rolling out, an early survey revealed that a lot of news outlets weren't willing to pay the subscription fee for their journalists. So, it's up to the journalists to pay from their pockets to keep their verified checkmark or risk someone else impersonating them with a verified profile and spreading fake news.
In either case, Twitter wins financially at the cost of reputation loss by journalists and media institutions while turning the platform itself into a cesspool of misinformation.
And it's already happening. Just peep into the comments section of a Musk tweet, and you'll now find hundreds of verified accounts. You'd think that all of these verified accounts belong to someone important, like a journalist, market watcher, or a brown-suit-wearing academic fella.
But you no longer have that trust cushion. Why? Because you now have to click on each blue checkmark to see if it was verified in the pre-Musk era for its importance, or if it's just a random bloke who gave $8 to Musk in order to get that vanity checkmark.
Something even worse will happen in the coming months. Musk says all the legacy verified accounts will lose their checkmarks in the coming months. And unless they pay for a Twitter Blue subscription, they will just be left with a Twitter profile that looks like the rest of us mortals on that damned platform.
Of course, the risk of misinformation is again extremely high! Yet, there's more to the hell that awaits all of us. There's no doubt that the official Twitter mobile app — and even the web version on desktop — absolutely suck.
That's also the reason why there were so many third-party apps that made handling Twitter easier for both — personal and business use. I've personally used Tweetdeck for years — without paying a dime. But that glorious era is over, because Musk wants more money.
After secretly blocking all third-party Twitter clients, the company sneakily updated its policy page, telling the world that all unofficial Twitter apps are hereby banned. So desperate is Musk that Twitter abruptly banned all links that directed users to other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and, more importantly, Mastodon, which is being seen as a potent rival to Twitter in the near future. Musk reasoned that he wouldn't allow the free promotion of rivals on his turf.
Twitter even suspended the official Mastodon account because, well, who wants a rival to blow their horn in your backyard? By the way, no other major social media platform does that. That policy was silently lifted a few days later. Twitter even secretly banned a healthy bunch of journalist accounts without any warning because that doesn't classify as free speech in the eyes of Musk.
Next, Musk went after APIs, the secret code sauce that allows the development of third-party clients. By the way, all those cool Twitter bots that allow everything from creating a human-readable format of words instead of reading long-ass threads to allowing easy download of videos are created using the Twitter APIs.
Musk declared that starting February this year, the Twitter API will no longer be a free-for-all lunch. So, if you're a benevolent developer planning to build a Twitter bot, you will now have to pay a fat fee to act as a genuine online Robin Hood. Fuck philanthropy!
By the way, it would also make life difficult for students as well as research brains because these APIs are what allowed them access to a vast cache of Twitter data to study trends and do actual online research. Musk, on the other hand, reasons that these APIs are being abused big time!
The solution? Pay around $100 per month to get access to APIs. But depending on the level of Twitter data you want to access, you may have to pay more. I'm wondering if the creators behind all those wonderful bots would be willing to pay up for API access in their quest to spread some free joy on the hellscape that is Twitter.
Next, we have Musk's dream of turning Twitter into a serious content creation platform, one that competes against YouTube and Instagram. Musk is even willing to pay a larger sum to creators, something even Mr. Beast — the Lord of YouTube creators — thinks would be impossible.
Musk is reportedly cooking up a paywalled video feature, which basically turns Twitter into a less-sinful OnlyFans parody. Creators will be able to put a price on their content, and only those who pay will see them.
Personally, for me, there is no person walking on this planet who can convince me to pay every time an individual shares a video or photo. None of the people I know are willing to pay real money for virtual satisfaction on Twitter.
Oh, by the way, dear 'ol generous Musk will let creators earn money from all the ads that appear in the reply section of their tweets. However, they will only get a share of the ad revenue if they are subscribed to Twitter Blue in the first place.
So, at this stage, you'll have to pay $8 per month, and that's certain. But nobody knows how much you will earn from the revenue-sharing plan. But if you read between the lines, you will find a scammy ad problem waiting to explode.
Instead of the cool replies you would hope to find in the comments section, you will now see a heck ton of ads. Talk about ruining the experience right from the top. Under Musk, nothing seems to be going in a direction where users can say their Twitter experience is going to get better.
That's quite a shame for the public town square, in Musk's own words!