Opinion: Twitter is in a big mess now that Elon Musk is in charge

Selling off its checkmark has does more harm than good for the social media company


Kennedy Tetour / Xinhua / Zuma Press / TNS

When Elon Musk took over Twitter in October, he instituted a new subscription that allowed users to buy a verified “blue check.” But Musk’s attempts at champion “free speech” on the platform have only made a bigger mess.

Claire Guzman, Staff Writer

Twitter has been one of the biggest social media platforms in the world for the past 15 years. Now that Elon Musk is taking control, a lot seems to be changing. Twitter used to be a platform on which every user could speak freely about anything they wanted; now it’s used for ad revenue and political conflict. Elon Musk’s censorship decisions, the verification checkmark, and the way he runs it overall appears to be worse than how Twitter originally was.

Recently, Twitter has undergone changes with the recent switch of ownership. The verification checkmark, which previously verified the authenticity of users with large platforms, is now available for purchase. Users used to have to meet a series of qualifications to even be considered for the checkmark. Now, Elon Musk states that users can buy the checkmark for $8 per month.

When the checkmark became available for purchase, it immediately caused issues with random users creating fake accounts. Twitter users were impersonating companies and celebrities, trying to make them look bad or display other motives. A fake account of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly tweeted, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now,” which gained many people’s attention. The real Eli Lilly saw the many impersonators of their brand growing and demanded Twitter delete all of the false accounts, saying how they don’t wish for false claims to ruin their reputation and customer loyalty. Twitter staff didn’t react for hours and caused the company to drop 4% in their share price and in health care stocks, causing them to lose a lot of money.

The slow reaction of the Twitter staff was caused by the lack of staff. Musk recently fired dozens of employees who criticized or mocked him in tweets and internal messages. He proceeded to set a deadline for the rest of the employees to fill out a Google form responding to a poll with “yes”  if they wanted to stay for “Twitter 2.0,” otherwise it would be their last day with a job. About half of the staff left that day, and now the rest of the employees are struggling to keep up with the additional work put onto them. Not only did a large number of people lose their jobs, but the ones that stayed are under pressure with the new “Hardcore Twitter” and the fewer staff members.

When almost half the staff left, Twitter spiraled into chaos for the offices. Musk was worried that disgruntled employees could wreak havoc while leaving, so he closed the offices. After hearing about this, Twitter users started to panic that Twitter might shut down for good. With the lack of workers, it wouldn’t be enough to support the platform long term, so hashtags started trending like #RIPTwitter amongst others. This made some Twitter users retreat to other platforms like Tumbler, Instagram, or new apps like Hive and Mastodon. With less people using the app, companies would also lose ad revenue and publicity.

Luckily, there has been a relaunch program planned to help sort out all the mess that has happened over the past few weeks. It will be color coded for different users, like companies, government officials, and regular users. The verification process would help take away false impersonators and suspend their account if they try to deceive others with fake tweets. Though they can’t for sure say it will work, with the fewer people working for Twitter, it might help solve the problems regarding the loss of money and fake accounts.

Each time, the problem is either resolved or forgotten and put aside. The future of this major social media platform is now in the hands of Musk, and people are on edge about it. Whether this new problem will be resolved or not is up to him, and all everyone can do for now is wait and see if this will be an improvement or a mistake.