Social media giant Twitter has been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after Elon Musk took the company private. Under Musk’s ownership, the company has introduced new changes, including a plan to charge nearly $8 for the blue checkmark that’s been put on hold until after the midterm elections. All the drama has led some users to leave the platform in favor of alternatives, such as Mastodon.
Musk must negotiate between retaining advertisers and making Twitter a place for his free speech absolutist beliefs, says Shirin Ghaffary, senior correspondent for Recode by Vox.
“He has to keep advertisers happy if he wants to continue growing revenue on the platform, but he also has this idea around making Twitter a place for more open speech. And that scares advertisers. Because if you take away the rules around hate speech and saying something like a racial slur, big brands don't want to be associated [with] that kind of content,” Ghaffary explains.
Since officially acquiring Twitter, Musk has also laid off more than 3500 employees. But Ghaffary says the company is asking dozens of former workers to come back, including engineers who have worked with critical parts of the platform’s code.
“We're definitely seeing cuts to a lot of the teams. The entire human rights team was reportedly cut. Twitter's health team, which works on trying to help people have friendlier conversations, less toxic conversations on the platform [was] almost entirely gutted.”
However, Ghaffary points out that there were less staffing cuts than initially reported.
“Twitter still does have a central team called Trust and Safety, which deals with a lot of content moderation day to day. And the company's head of that department has said that there were fewer cuts in that department than others,” she says. “What we do know though, is at the end of the day, there are definitely fewer boots on the ground here. And how much that's going to impact something, like this midterm election today, is still very much a big concern.”
Regardless, Ghaffary says Musk now has a fiduciary responsibility to run Twitter profitably. She says that could be why he’s floating new ways to run the site, such as charging users for verification, direct message capabilities, and even to use the site overall.