'Golden parachutes' for 3 fired Twitter executives worth $122 mln -Equilar


Hours after taking over Twitter, Elon Musk started cleaning the house.

Many conservatives have bristled at a social media company deciding what is and isn't language and ideas that deserve public distribution, and Musk has said Twitter should be what he calls an "inclusive arena for free speech."

"We want to be just very reluctant to delete things, just be very cautious with permanent bans," Musk said. "Time outs, I think, are better."

Areva Martin is an attorney and author. She told Newsy Musk's takeover raises red flags for marginalized and minority communities. 

"There's fear of intimidation, there's fear of disinformation, there's fear of racial bullying," Martin said. "I question whether the owners of these sites really want free speech. They want to spread the messages that they want people to listen to and adhere to. I don't know if we're going to get there, although I think there is a need for some kind of government intervention."

Musk's takeover highlights the role gatekeepers on social media sites have played in social discourse and civility.

Now it's in question at one of the biggest social platforms on the planet.

"Although he's talked about getting rid of large swathes of his workforce, large swathes of that workforce are keeping the platform from descending into absolute chaos, anarchy, pornography, pedophilia, God knows what," said Mike Butcher, editor-at-large of TechCrunch. "Content moderation on social networks is an enormous, enormous issue."

The change comes as Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, tries to purchase the conservative social media app Parler amid intense backlash for his antisemitic comments.

It's a startling move into social media, but it might not amount to much.

The app has struggled to recover since its major hosts pulled their services after reports many participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection relied on it.

Still, a mainstream figure is attempting to take over a space where hate speech could run rampant.

"Then Donald Trump with his social media platform, you're talking about three potentially very dangerous echo chambers where conservative viewpoints, and not just conservative viewpoints but extremist conservative viewpoints, will be amplified," Martin said.

Taken together, the moves paint a picture of the First Amendment under a stress test.

"We should watch to see what happens," Martin said. "There's been, again, a lot of folks — particularly people of color, a lot of women, a lot of strong voices on Twitter — who now are saying they're looking for a new home. It will have huge implications for not only the midterm elections coming up but for the future of our democracy and our politics as we know them."

After months of uncertainty, Tesla CEO Elon Musk now officially owns Twitter.

In a tweet, Musk said Thursday he bought the site because "it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence."

Reaction to the purchase, which is valued at $44 billion, was immediate, and now people want to see some new features.

The presence of bots is a big concern

Previously, Musk said one of the reasons he no longer wanted to buy Twitter was because there are so many bots, and users are asking him to fix them.

"Elon, next step is the bots. Please. We are begging you," one user tweeted.

"All user accounts need a verified human behind it, can be anonymous to the public but required and verified by twitter behind the curtain," someone else said. "Rid this world of Bots and trolls!"

"I am looking forward to tweeting and not having 50 bot replies within the first 10 seconds," another user said.

Some would like to see tweets be monetized

Many social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok allow users to make money from their posts. Twitter has not joined the camp yet.

"Also, Twitter should find a way to compensate/monetization partners with its top creators. Like every other social media app," one user said.

"Elon my tweets are fuego let me monetize them," one person said.

Others, though, think that move would contradict Musk's vision of bringing people together.

"I disagree with paying creators on this platform," another user said. "If this is truly going to be a free speech town square then we should not give people different height soap boxes. Draw people to the town square for the same reasons they went to the real ones."

A few more things

The public has other suggestions, as well.

"Also, if you pay for Twitter Blue, ads should be removed," someone said.

"Just one thing, give us the option to save video directly like we save pictures," another said.

"Give 18+ accounts the ability to be hidden from accounts belonging to users 17 and under please," one user tweeted. "This is a feature that exists for advertisers that sell or market products, not for specific ages (i.e. alcohol to those under 21). This would combat a lot of toxicity and help..."

One person has a very simple request: "Please provide Dislike Button."

And as always, there's high demand for an edit button.

GM suspends advertising on Twitter so it can ‘understand’ the service’s direction under new owner Elon Musk.

The world shifted last night as Elon Musk completed his takeover of Twitter.

One of the most influential communication platforms is now in the hands of an unpredictable leader.

The nearly eight-month saga ended Thursday night, a day before today’s court-ordered deadline.

  • Musk had met briefly with a handful of employees at Twitter’s headquarters on Wednesday, after notably bringing a sink into the lobby.
  • On Thursday night, Twitter staffers began to hear details, through media reports and posts on Twitter, that the deal had closed and top executives had been fired.
  • That includes news about the firing of CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett and Vijaya Gadde — the company’s head of legal, policy, and trust who was involved in banning former President Trump. 

 Despite shrugging off the idea in the past, Musk has reportedly appointed himself CEO of Twitter, for now, and he's expected to make swift decisions

  • His handling of account suspensions is the most anticipated.
  • Musk has said he intends to limit permanent bans and believes in making Twitter a free-speech haven, raising concerns over increased hate speech and divisiveness.
  • Musk also announced today that Twitter will form a content moderation council and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements” will happen before it convenes, before also tweeting, “Anyone suspended for minor & dubious reasons will be freed from Twitter jail.”

Advertising makes up nearly all of Twitter's revenue, and advertisers are watching closely for Musk's next moves.

  • General Motors on Friday told CNBC it's temporarily suspending paid ads on Twitter while it gets a feel for "the direction of the platform under their new ownership."
  • Musk has been conscious of this kind of risk, and wrote to advertisers on Thursday that "Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape."

 Musk is essentially fulfilling the role of a private equity company, Bloomberg corporate credit reporter Paula Seligson noted this morning during a Twitter Spaces conversation.

  • If he acts like one, he'll have to significantly cut costs and grow revenue, she noted.
  • Twitter's debt load has grown from about $2 billion to more than $13 billion, with an annual interest expense of $1.2 billion going forward, more than 12x what it is now, according to Seligson.

In order for Musk to make Twitter successful, and to grow its value in order to one day sell it again back to public investors — it’s in his interest to keep content “brand safe” for advertisers.

  • It is vital they stick around to fund his vision for Twitter, which could be a form of a super app.

 Shortly after Elon Musk took control of Twitter, some conservative personalities wasted no time jumping on the platform and recirculating long-debunked conspiracy theories in a tongue-in-cheek attempt to “test” whether Twitter’s policies on misinformation were still being enforced.

Twitter has made no announcements of any immediate policy changes and in a tweet posted on Friday afternoon, Musk said Twitter will be forming a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” and “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”

But that didn’t stop users from cheering — or criticizing — what they expected to be a quick embrace of Musk’s previous pledges to cut back on moderation in the name of promoting free speech. Some were all too eager to see what they could get away with under the new regime.

Popular right-wing pundits tweeted buzzwords such as “ivermectin,” and “Trump won” to see whether they’d be penalized for the content they suggested would previously have been flagged. Ivermectin, a cheap drug that kills parasites in humans and animals, has been promoted by some Republican lawmakers and conservative talk show hosts as an effective way to treat COVID-19. But health experts have been pushing back, warning there’s scant evidence to support the belief that it works.

“Ok, @elonmusk, is this thing on..?” Steve Cortes, a former commentator for the conservative TV network Newsmax and adviser to former President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet, where he included a microphone emoji. “THERE ARE TWO SEXES TRUMP WON IVERMECTIN ROCKS.”

In a letter aimed to soothe the fears of advertisers, Musk vowed Thursday that Twitter won’t be a “free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”

But the jury is still out on what will become of the social media platform — and what it will tolerate. Observers are eyeing who stays, who goes, and who might potentially come back from the list of people the platform has banned over the years. They range from Trump to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — none of whom have returned to the platform so far.

The Associated Press checked at least a dozen other Twitter accounts that were suspended by the platform — including those used by right-wing activist James O’Keefe and MyPillow Chief Executive Mike Lindell — and each turned up an “account suspended” message as of Friday afternoon.

At least one still found a way to get his message out.

“I am very happy that Twitter is now in safe hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country,” Trump said Friday morning in a post on his social media platform Truth Social, leaving no indication of whether he’d return to the platform or not even though Musk has said he would allow it.

“I LOVE TRUTH!,” he said, adding Twitter will be “better” if it works to get rid of bots and fake accounts “that have hurt it so badly.”

Earlier in the day, news outlets reported Kanye West, the rapper legally known as Ye, appeared to be back on Twitter after being locked out of his account earlier this month over his antisemitic posts on the social media platform.

But there was no evidence to suggest the status of his account had changed or that Musk played a role, and there was no sign of recent activity. Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment on whether Ye was back on the platform. The rapper and fashion designer had also been suspended from Instagram, where his account there was recently reinstated.

Meanwhile, dozens of extremist profiles — some newly created — circulated racial slurs and Nazi imagery while expressing gratitude to Musk for his new leadership. One such post shared a breaking news update about Musk taking over the company, tweeting a racial slur and the message, “thank you Elon.” Another anonymous account tweeted, “Elon now controls Twitter, unleash the racial slurs,” along with several derogatory comments.

“His acquisition of Twitter has opened Pandora’s box,” the advocacy group Ultraviolet said in a prepared statement on Friday, while also urging Musk, Twitter executives, and the company’s board of directors to continue to enforce the ban on Trump “as well as violent right-wing extremists and white supremacists.”

Some users reacted to the news by threatening to quit, and others made fun of them for doing so. The terms “Elon,” and “deleting,” appeared in Twitter’s top trends Friday as users discussed the fallout. Speculation also permeated the platform. Some worried the number of their Twitter followers was plunging, theorizing that Twitter may be cleaning up bots. Other users posted unverified reports that their “like” counts were dwindling.

“Elon Musk bought a platform, he didn’t buy people,” said Jennifer Grygiel, a social media expert, and professor at Syracuse University. “And we still have a choice in how we get our news, our information, and how we communicate.”

Grygiel said there will be a flight to quality if Twitter descends into further chaos under Musk, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing as the platform has increasingly come to serve corporate and state media interests.

And as always, users were quick to crack jokes — aiming to cut through the disorder in more comical ways.

“In honor of Elon now owning this site, I’d like to start utter chaos,” CNN commentator Bakari Sellers wrote in a Tweet on Friday morning. “Which is better Popeyes or Bojangles and why?”

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