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  • Lisa Gormley

What’s going on with Elon? Twitter news and updates from Hydrogen

The saga began 27 October 2022 - the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, took to the helm of Twitter HQ after the much anticipated $44billion deal finally went through.

It’s not personal, it’s business

As soon as Elon arrived he made it clear that Twitter was to go through major changes, and was no longer to be a platform primarily for short form communication. Musk will be focusing on monetisation and has aspirations for Twitter to become “the most respected advertising platform in the world.

Verification Compensation

First item on the agenda - verification. People love a blue tick, right? They’re sought after, cool, useful, prestigious, rare. Sounds like something you’d pay good money for doesn’t it? Elon thought so too and announced plans to charge a monthly subscription of $20 to sport your blue tick.

After a Twitter exchange with author Stephen King, Elon bartered the Twitter Blue price down to $8 a month and opened it to all.

Tweet series. Stephen King says "$20 a month to keep my blue check? F that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron." Elon Musk replies "We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?" He then tweets "I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls."

So once a Chanel bag, now a high street designer dupe, the mayhem began.

Brand Safety

A tweet from a fake - but verified account @TeslaReal saying "BREAKING: A second Tesla has his the World Trade Centre"

This move opened the floodgates for parody accounts, with major brands such as Tesla, Nintendo, Chiquita and even Sandra Bullock, with some pretty real life consequences, most notably a 4.37% stock dip for pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly.

Tweet from a fake - but verified - Eli Lilly account reads "We are excited to announce insulin is free now."

Twitter swiftly announced they were adding the word “official” to some accounts.

First Amendment

In related news, Elon’s free speech policy unsurprisingly led to a rise in hate speech across the platform. Elon tweeted that he would create a content moderation council to evaluate content, and also decide whether controversial figures would be reinstated to the platform.

Unsurprisingly, global ad buyers such as IPG Media and Omnicom advised a pause in Twitter ad spending to protect their clients' brands.

Some major brands - including Eli Lilly - have announced that they plan to pause Twitter ads for the time being.

Should I stay or should I go?

Amidst the wild west like antics online, in real life Twitter HQ has experienced major staffing changes, with Elon eliminating half the workforce (only to hire some back the next day!) and some senior leaders of the business choosing to walk. Around 3,700 jobs were lost.

This goes a long way to explaining Elon’s latest HR move in the form of an email ultimatum. Musk has asked staff to work at “high intensity” or leave. Staff are expected to work a minimum of 40 hours a week, but he himself alluded to working 100+ hours a week in the past and even sleeping in the office.

Staff have been sent a form that had to be completed by 5pm ET (10pm GMT) Thursday 17 November in order to pledge their willingness to be part of Twitter 2.0.

At the time of writing, it has been rumours that 'hundred of employees' have refused to sign the form, however, there have been no official announcements. Elon Musk tweeted saying "The best people are staying, so I'm not super worried."

What next?

We will be adding to this page as major updates occur, so follow our socials to be kept in the loop. For now we think brands should keep calm and carry on, whilst keeping a close eye on ad spend and their social listening.


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