In October 2022, Elon Musk became the owner and CEO of Twitter after acquiring the social media company for $44 billion. Prior to the acquisition, Musk had been openly critical of Twitter, polling his followers on whether they believe the company adheres to the principle of free speech.
A securities filing revealed that Musk was Twitter’s largest shareholder, with a 9% stake in the company. He was invited to join Twitter’s board of directors.
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter made a number of changes, including increasing its character limit from 140 to 280 and allowing users to edit their tweets.
On April 4, 2022, Elon Musk tweeted "Oh hi lol." On April 10, former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced that Musk had declined an invitation to join Twitter's board of directors. On April 14, Musk made an offer to purchase Twitter for $43 billion, or $54.20 per share. In a tweet, he said "Taking Twitter private at $54.20 should be up to shareholders, not the board."
On April 25, 2022, a filing with the United States Security and Exchange Commission revealed that Twitter's board had accepted Elon Musk's buyout offer. In a tweet on the same day, Musk said that he hoped even his worst critics would remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.
However, on May 13, 2022, Musk put the buyout deal on hold following reports that 5% of Twitter's daily active users are spam accounts. In a tweet on May 14, 2022, Musk said that his team would do a random sample of 100 followers of @twitter to find out how many spam accounts there are. He also invited others to repeat the same process.
On June 6, 2022, in a letter from Musk's attorney sent to Twitter, Musk threatened to terminate his agreement. Musk alleged that Twitter was refusing to comply with requests for data on the number of spam accounts.
On June 8, 2022, The Washington Post reported that Twitter's board had agreed to provide Elon Musk with a "firehose" data stream of tweets.
On July 8, 2022, Musk announced his intention to terminate the Twitter acquisition, claiming in a filing with the SEC that Twitter still refuses to comply with requests for data on bot accounts.
Twitter's chairman, Bret Taylor, said in response that the board plans to pursue legal action to enforce the agreement.
On July 12, 2022, Twitter formally filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk in response to his backing out of an acquisition deal. In a tweet, Musk joked about the irony of the situation.
On August 6, 2022, Musk challenged former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to a public debate about spam accounts and polls followers on whether they believe less than 5% of Twitter’s daily active users are fake.
On October 4, 2022, Elon Musk tweeted that he was considering acquiring Twitter. He proposed that the acquisition happen at the original agreed-upon price of $44 billion, but only if Twitter dropped its lawsuit against him.
Musk said that acquiring Twitter would be part of a larger goal to create an “everything” app called “X.” On October 20, 2022, The Washington Post reported that Musk planned to terminate nearly 75% of Twitter’s staff if the acquisition went through.
On October 26, 2022, Musk tweeted a video of him carrying a kitchen sink into Twitter headquarters and changed his Twitter bio to “Chief Twit.” This signaled that the buyout was near completion.
On October 26, 2022, Elon Musk tweeted that he would be visiting Twitter headquarters. This visit comes after reports that Musk plans to layoff 75% of Twitter's staff.
Musk reportedly tells Twitter employees during his visit that layoffs will happen, though not at the previously reported scale. On October 27, Musk and Twitter close the deal, making Musk the new owner. Musk immediately fires Agrawal, chief financial officer (CFO) Ned Segal, Gadde, and general counsel Sean Edgett.
Musk tweetd on October 28: "the bird is freed." On October 30, Musk reveals plans to revamp Twitter’s verification system, tweeting: "The whole verification process is being revamped right now."
A report begins to surface that Musk is considering charging users to pay to remain verified. A separate report says Musk plans to offer verification checkmarks through Twitter Blue and increase the price to $19.99 per month.
In an exchange on Twitter with Stephen King, Musk confirms plans to charge for verification, though at a reduced price of $8 per month. In a follow-up tweet, Musk adds that he will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented, and that it is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.
Musk reportedly orders Twitter staff to work 12-hour shifts to accomplish his goal of launching the new verification system within a week.
On November 4, 2022, Elon Musk announced that he was laying off half of Twitter's employees in an effort to cut costs. In a series of tweets, Musk explained that the decision was due to a significant drop in Twitter's revenue, which he blamed on activist groups pressuring advertisers. Musk claimed that the layoffs were necessary to keep the company afloat, and that all affected employees would be given three months of severance pay - 50% more than what is legally required.
The news of the layoffs sparked immediate backlash on social media, with many users accusing Musk of 'destroying free speech in America'. Some also pointed out that Twitter has been struggling with its finances for years, long before Musk took over as CEO.
On November 9, 2022, Twitter launched a new verification system, with all users receiving a blue checkmark by purchasing Twitter Blue. However, just one day later, in Musk’s first address to Twitter staff since taking ownership of the company, he warned about a dire finical situation and reportedly said that bankruptcy was possible. As a result of this news, Musk paused Twitter Blue subscriptions the next day. In a tweet, he explained that the pause was due to accounts abusing the verification checkmark by impersonating brands and public figures. Finally, on November 11, more senior executives resigned from their positions at Twitter.
Then, on November 14, Musk announces that Twitter will be "turning off" microservices, which he claims isn't necessary for the site to work. He tweets:
Part of today will be turning off the “microservices” bloatware. Less than 20% are actually needed for Twitter to work!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 14, 2022
Twitter has officially fired Yao Yue, the former Principal Software Engineer, after 12 years with the company. Yue shared the news on Twitter, expressing relief and saying that he has "a lot of stories to tell."
This comes as the legal battle between Twitter and Musk ends, with the judge dismissing the lawsuit. Musk then announces a new "Blue Verified" program that will launch on November 29.
A new study has found that Twitter may not be as effective for promoting news stories as previously thought.
The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found that only 6% of U.S. adults who use Twitter say they often learn about breaking news from the platform.
This is compared to the 20% of U.S. adults who say they often learn about breaking news from television and the 18% who say they often learn about it from radio.
The study also found that Twitter is more likely to be used by those who are younger, more educated, and more politically active than the general population.
These findings suggest that while Twitter may be a useful tool for journalists and news organizations, it is not necessarily an effective way to reach a wider audience with breaking news stories.