The Tesla and SpaceX CEO first announced his bid to buy Twitter in April 2022, zealously driven to rid the platform of spam bots and protect free speech.
“This is just my strong, intuitive sense that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” Musk said at a TED conference on the day he made his offer. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”
Even for one of the richest men in the world, $44 billion is a lot of money to cough up to buy a middling social platform. Despite his fervent declarations about expanding “the scope and scale of consciousness” through public discourse, the billionaire got cold feet. A month later in May, he tried to kill the deal, claiming that Twitter had more bots than its public filings let on. After a truly chaotic legal discovery process, which even included some embarrassing texts, Musk was forced to seal the deal. By October, the platform was his.
Since Musk bought Twitter and took the company private, the news around the microblogging platform has been a whirlwind, rife with verification chaos, API access shakeups, ban reversals and staggering layoffs. If you’re just catching up, here’s a complete timeline of what’s going down at the bird app.
Here’s an ongoing timeline of the notable Twitter updates and changes since Musk’s takeover, starting with the most recent news:
Musk had claimed that starting on April 1, blue checkmarks that previously indicated that an account was legitimate, verified and notable would be maintained only for those who have a subscription to Twitter Blue. The change would be part of a wider push for Twitter to gate previously free features, and bundle together new ones, under the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription, which costs $11 on iOS and Android devices.
As numerous celebrities and businesses spoke out to say they wouldn’t pay the $8 fee, it appeared that removing so many blue checks would be easier said than done. Instead, Twitter merely updated the text accompanying a blue check to make it unclear whether someone was verified for being notable, or for paying for Twitter Blue. In an ultimate act of pettiness, Twitter removed the New York Times’ verification check when the news giant said it wouldn’t pay for verification.
Based on early returns, the revamped Twitter Blue has yet to contribute significantly to Twitter’s bottom line, with just $11 million generated from mobile signups in its first three months.
The three API tiers include a free level meant for content posting bots, a $100/month basic level and a costly enterprise level. Subscribing to any level gets access to the Ads API at no additional cost.
Twitter mentioned that over the next 30 days, the company will discontinue old access levels, including Standard (for v1.1), Essential and Elevated (for v2), and Premium.
Developers remain unhappy with Twitter’s new API structure.
Introducing a new form of Free (v2) access for write-only use cases and those testing the Twitter API with 1,500 Tweets/month at the app level, media upload endpoints, and Login with Twitter.
Get started: https://t.co/CqCRD3vbE5
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) March 29, 2023
Musk justified the move by saying this was the “only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over.”
Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.
The is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.
Voting in polls will require verification for same reason.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2023
Twitter extends the wait to purchase Twitter Blue for newly created Twitter accounts from 90 days to 30 days.
“New subscriptions to Twitter Blue are available globally on web, iOS, or Android. Not all features are available on all platforms. Newly created Twitter accounts will not be able to subscribe to Twitter Blue for 30 days. We may also impose waiting periods for new accounts in the future at our discretion, and without notice,” the Twitter Blue page reads.
Twitter announced that the removal of legacy blue checkmarks will begin April 1 for users that are not subscribed to Twitter Blue.
Elon tweeted back in December that the company will remove legacy checkmarks “in a few months.” After that, users with legacy blue checks had been seeing a pop-up when they clicked on their checkmark, which read, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.” But once Twitter botched this removal of checkmarks, they changed the copy again – as of now, users cannot distinguish whether someone has a checkmark because they paid, or because they were deemed notable.
On April 1st, we will begin winding down our legacy verified program and removing legacy verified checkmarks. To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue here: https://t.co/gzpCcwOpLp
Organizations can sign up for https://t.co/RlN5BbuGA3…
— Twitter Verified (@verified) March 23, 2023
Twitter’s Tor service, a version of the site that could be accessed even in countries where the social network is banned, has gone dark after the company failed to renew its certificate which expired on March 6.
Pavel Zoneff, director of strategic communications at the Tor Project, told TechCrunch that the site “is no longer available seemingly with no plans to renew.”
This expansion makes the social network’s subscription service available in more than 35 countries across the world.
These countries include Netherlands, Poland, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Czech Republic, Finland, Denmark, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Croatia, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus.
Twitter laid off more than 200 employees in its fourth round of cuts, including loyalist Esther Crawford—the chief executive of Twitter payments who oversaw the company’s Twitter Blue verification subscription.
Twitter’s staff is down from about 7,500 employees to less than 2,000 since Musk.
Lots of speculation among ex employees that Musk must be about to install a whole new regime and that’s why he is cleaning house. Otherwise the cuts don’t make sense. “Hard to keep the lights on with the people who are still left,” one ex manager told me.
— Alex Heath (@alexeheath) February 26, 2023
One of the numerous rounds of cuts eliminated the platform’s entire accessibility team. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) called on Elon Musk to bring the accessibility team back in an open letter. Markey requested a response by March 17.
After updating its ad policy on February 15, Twitter became the first social media app in the U.S. to allow cannabis advertising. Cannabis ads will run on Twitter in U.S. states where cannabis is legal and in Canada.
The initial date set to cut free access to Twitter’s API was February 9, which was then extended to February 13. Now, the social network has delayed the shutdown again, this time with no date set.
There has been an immense amount of enthusiasm for the upcoming changes with Twitter API. As part of our efforts to create an optimal experience for the developer community, we will be delaying the launch of our new API platform by a few more days.
More information to follow…
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 13, 2023
The delay jeopardizes the plans of developers and startups building tools around the Twitter API as they wouldn’t have any clarity on future spending and budget allocation on the developer platform.
The company originally planned to shut down free access to its API on February 9. Now it has extended this deadline to February 13. Twitter said that it will charge $100 per month for the basic tier of API. This will get developers access to a “low level of API usage”, as well as the Ads API.
We have been busy with some updates to the Twitter API so you can continue to build and innovate with us.
We’re excited to announce an extension of the current free Twitter API access through February 13. Here’s what we’re shipping then
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 8, 2023
When developers trying to seek clarity around the new API rules went to the developer forum website, they found that the site had been put behind a login. The forum was finally accessible four days later on February 13.
Twitter announced the ability to post longer tweets for paid users on February 8. Instead of being limited to 280 characters, paying Blue subscribers can post tweets that are up to 4,000 characters long.
While only Twitter Blue subscribers can post long tweets, all users will be able to read them. You will see only the first 280 characters on the timeline, and if you want to read more, you can click on “Show more.”
need more than 280 characters to express yourself?
we know that lots of you do… and while we love a good thread, sometimes you just want to Tweet everything all at once. we get that.
so we’re introducing longer Tweets! you’re gonna want to check this out. tap this …
— Twitter Blue (@TwitterBlue) February 8, 2023
Elon Musk announced in a tweet on February 3 that the company would soon begin sharing advertising revenue with creators on the platform for the first time. He follows up the announcement with a catch: Eligible users must be signed up for Twitter Blue.
Payouts have yet to reach creators’ wallets.
Twitter Blue subscriptions are now available in Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, making it 12 regions in total to which users can subscribe to it as of February 2. On February 8, Twitter Blue extended services further to India, Indonesia and Brazil.
Twitter also announced launching a new Spaces tab with curated stations for live and recorded spaces along with podcasts. The social network is making podcasts available only to Blue subscribers and “some people on Twitter for iOS and Twitter for Android apps.”
Twitter will discontinue offering free access to the Twitter API starting February 9 and will launch a paid version, Twitter said as it looks for more avenues to monetize the platform.
Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 2, 2023
A week later and days before the February 9 deadline, Elon Musk said that after getting feedback from developers, Twitter will provide a write-only API for “bots providing good content that is free.”
Twitter announced February 1 that it is discontinuing CoTweeting, a feature that allowed two users co-author a tweet. Users will be able to view the set of co-tweets for a month. After that, they will be automatically converted to retweets on the co-author’s profile.
Due to declining ad revenue and advertiser exits, Twitter announced on January 25 that it has teamed up with adtech companies DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) to tell advertisers if their ad is placed around inappropriate content. The program, available first for U.S.-based advertising campaigns, allows brands to analyze the content adjacent to — primarily tweets above and below the ad — all types of ads, including promoted tweets.
The new design displays the bookmark button under the expanded tweet view. Making it easier to add a post to your bookmarks.
Before the change, you had to tap on the share button to open the sharing card and then tap on the bookmark option to save a tweet. In addition to the new button, as soon as you tap on the button, you will see a banner at the top of the screen that says “Show all bookmarks.”
The option is currently visible only on the iOS app, but we can expect that Twitter will roll this out to Android and the web soon.
The “restrictions” section of Twitter’s developer agreement was updated with a clause prohibiting “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.” Earlier in the week, Twitter said that it was “enforcing long-standing API rules” in disallowing clients access to its platform but didn’t cite which specific rules developers were violating.
As a result, third-party Twitter clients began offloading their apps from App Stores.
Users now have a chance to get a discount for $84/year if they purchase an annual Blue subscription on the web.
Twitter Blue, including the new annual plan, is currently available in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
In a strange attempt to make money, Twitter is auctioning off surplus office furniture (auction is now closed) that it doesn’t need anymore, now that thousands of employees have either left the company or been laid off. When you’re rapidly losing advertisers and apparently not paying your rent, why not go for the hail mary?
What’s different this time? The Elon Musk-led company is now showing both algorithmic and chronological feeds side-by-side. Users can switch between them by swiping on their phone screens. Until now, users had to tap on the sparkle icon in the top-right corner to switch between the “Home” and “Latest” timelines. Twitter is justifying its latest change by saying that users can now easily swipe between the renamed “For You” and “Following” timelines.
- January 13: Twitter rolled out the dual-timeline update to the web but at that time the social network used to remember your choice.
- January 20: The company made the “For You” feed default on the web when users first opened Twitter in a tab or refreshed the page.
- January 24: Now, Twitter remembers your choices again.
- February 7: Twitter remembers your choices again on iOS and Andorid, too.
You can now easily switch between “For you” and “Following” on web. Android coming soon
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 13, 2023
According to social media analyst Matt Navarra, Twitter’s advanced search filters for mobile are coming soon.
Here’s what it looks like:
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) January 4, 2023
The company originally enforced the ban back in 2019. At that time, it said that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.” Twitter charted a different path from other social networks like Facebook and Instagram, which allowed political ads.
Twitter’s announcement to lift the political ad ban comes at a time when advertisers have been pulling back spending on the platform, and the company has been cutting down its internal revenue projections.
On December 23, Twitter updated the Twitter Blue page declaring that subscribers can now upload 60-minute videos from the web at 1080p resolution and 2GB in file size.
Twitter also laid off some engineers in infrastructure via email on December 16. Across all of Twitter, it’s estimated that about 75% of employees have either chosen to leave or have been laid off since Elon Musk took ownership of the company in October.
To access the new feature, users have to just type the dollar symbol followed by the relevant ticker symbol, e.g. “$GOOG” or “$ETH” (minus the quote marks), in the search bar and Twitter will display the current price. This also works without using the $ symbol in some instances, but it’s less consistent and doesn’t always return the stock or crypto prices as requested.
If someone wants to know more details about a stock or cryptocurrency, they can hit the “View on Robinhood” button.
$Cashtags, now with data
— Twitter Business (@TwitterBusiness) December 21, 2022
A tweet’s View Count will be visible to everyone, not just the owner of the account.
“Twitter is rolling out View Count, so you can see how many times a tweet has been seen! This is normal for video,” Elon Musk wrote in a tweet. “Shows how much more alive Twitter is than it may seem, as over 90% of Twitter users read, but don’t tweet, reply or like, as those are public actions.”
Twitter’s product manager Esther Crawford said the social media platform is launching a pilot program for Blue for Business with select businesses. The company plans to expand this to more organizations next year.
We’re launching the pilot of Blue for Business so beginning today you’ll start seeing company badges on select profiles. We’ll soon be expanding the program and look forward to having more businesses added in the new year! https://t.co/ytnMRO5rcE
— Esther Crawford (@esthercrawford) December 19, 2022
Within the same day, Twitter suspended a number of prominent journalists on the platform without warning. “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” Elon Musk tweeted in a reply about the journalists’ suspensions.
Twitter seemingly had a glitch that allowed banned users to still participate in Twitter Spaces. A group of the banned journalists started a group conversation on Spaces where Musk himself joined in. Shortly after, Twitter pulled its Spaces group audio feature temporarily.
Revue, the newsletter platform acquired by Twitter in January 2021, sent a message to newsletter writers on December 14 declaring, “We’ve made the difficult decision to shut down Revue.” Writers have until January 18, 2023 to retrieve their data before everything is deleted.
Twitter dispersed the advisory group consisting of roughly 100 independent researchers and human rights activists from around the world. The council members received an email on Monday, December 12 from Twitter saying that the Trust & Safety Council is “not the best structure” to get external insights into the company product and policy strategy.
Twitter will remove all legacy blue checkmarks “in a few months,” Elon Musk tweeted on December 12. Before Musk bought Twitter, checkmarks were used to verify individuals and entities as active, authentic and notable accounts of interest.
This past week, many blue checkmark holders have been seeing a pop-up when they click on their blue checkmark that reads, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”
Twitter is officially bringing back the Twitter Blue subscription on December 12, starting in five countries before rapidly expanding to others. Twitter updated its terms to specify that users will need to verify their phone numbers before purchasing the Twitter Blue subscription.
Web sign-ups will cost $8 per month and iOS sign ups will cost $11 per month for “access to subscriber-only features, including the blue checkmark,” per a tweet from the company account. Twitter Blue became available on Android at the same price as iOS in January 2023.
In addition to the relaunch of Twitter Blue, the company also began rolling out a new offering called Blue for Business that adds a gold checkmark to company accounts.
Twitter announced Community Notes, previously known as Birdwatch, are now visible around the world. Community Notes is the social media giant’s crowdsourced fact-checking system.
Moderators who are part of the program can add notes to tweets to add context and users can then vote if they determine the context to be helpful. Prior to this global expansion, Community Notes were only visible to users in the U.S. Twitter added moderators from the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in January 2023.
When Twitter launched its new subscription plan with a verification mark on November 9, it charged users $7.99 per month. In an attempt to offset App Store fees, Twitter is charging iOS users $11 for the new subscription plan—though the Twitter Blue plan is on halt.
The platform’s crowdsourced fact-checking system, Community Notes, are notes written by Twitter users that are appended to tweets to provide further clarification and context.
The Community Notes algorithm change involves scoring notes where contributors explain why a tweet shouldn’t be deemed misleading.
Elon Musk announces that Twitter will tentatively roll out a new multicolored verification system where companies will get a gold checkmark, government officials will get a grey checkmark, and the blue checkmark will be dedicated to individuals even if they are not celebrities. That means the blue checkmark will be used with legacy verified accounts and folks who buy Twitter’s proposed $8 per month paid plan.
If you’re confused about all the checkmarks, you’re not alone. Here’s a quick guide on what each checkmark and badge means on Twitter.
On November 9, Twitter CEO Elon Musk floated changes to Twitter’s system for verifying user accounts, including charging $8 per month for it. The social media company seemingly began rolling out a new tier of Twitter Blue, its premium subscription service. According to a tweet by Esther Crawford, a former product lead at Twitter, the new Twitter Blue plan wasn’t yet live, but some users saw notifications as part of a live test.
The new Blue isn’t live yet — the sprint to our launch continues but some folks may see us making updates because we are testing and pushing changes in real-time. The Twitter team is legendary. New Blue… coming soon! https://t.co/ewTSTjx3t7
— Esther Crawford (@esthercrawford) November 5, 2022
Twitter also launched grey-colored official checkmarks for notable accounts such as companies and politicians. But within hours of the launch, Elon Musk killed it. Crawford clarified that the grey “Official” labels are still going out as part of the new Twitter Blue product.
The new $8 Twitter Blue plan began rolling out to iOS users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K with the only feature available at the time being the blue ‘verified’ checkmark. This caused a number of fake accounts pretending to be celebrities, brands, and otherwise influential people to create accounts and spread misinformation.
Elon Musk laid off 3,700 people from Twitter on November 3, almost half its staff, shortly after completing the acquisition. Twitter was sued in a class action lawsuit in response to not giving employees advance notice of a mass layoff, alleging Twitter violated worker protection laws.
A week later, Twitter reached out to some former employees to return as they were laid off “by mistake.”
In addition to layoffs, a round of executive departures also swept through the company. In Musk’s first email to his new staff, he talked about ending remote work and making the fight against spam a priority.
Twitter begins overhauling a new and more expensive version of Twitter Blue, the platform’s paid plan, that will reportedly cost $19.99 per month and give users a verified badge. At the time, Twitter Blue cost $4.99 per month in the U.S.
According to a report from The Verge, Twitter plans to remove verification badges from current holders if they don’t pay for Twitter Blue within 90 days of launching the new verification system.
Elon Musk closed on his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on October 27, 2022. The deal came after months of legal drama, bad memes and will-they-or-won’t-they-chaos. After sealing the deal, Musk took Twitter private and began clearing house. On day one, he fired former CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, General Counsel Sean Edgett and Head of Legal, Trust and Safety Vijaya Gadde.
Elon Musk’s Twitter: Everything you need to know, from layoffs to verification by Amanda Silberling originally published on TechCrunch
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Photo and Author: Amanda Silberling