Staff Posts

Twitter in Turmoil

As Elon Musk tries to woo back advertisers, troubling developments continue to make Twitter a risk for brands and an increasingly lower-quality, toxic platform for users.

Kaili Lambe
Kaili Lambe,
Apr 18, 2023

Capping off a round of media appearances in an attempt to win back advertisers, Elon Musk spoke Tuesday at the POSSIBLE advertising conference in Miami Beach, where a plane flew overhead as part of the #StopToxicTwitter campaign launched by Accountable Tech, Free Press and Media Matters for America to remind advertisers that brands should stay far away from the mess Musk has made of Twitter.

Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Media Matters for America
Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Media Matters for America
Amadou Cisse for Free Press
Amadou Cisse for Free Press

Accountable Tech has long sounded the alarm on Musk’s takeover of Twitter, but with this week’s renewed – and well deserved – scrutiny of the platform, we compiled some of the latest worrying headlines about the platform:

Hateful, extreme content is on the rise on Twitter – and the platform is changing the rules to allow it.

  • New research from GLAAD: “Twitter quietly removes policy against misgendering trans people” (TechCrunch)
  • Monetizing hate’: Unease as misinformation swirls on Twitter (France 24)
  • Twitter’s algorithm is spoon-feeding hate speech and extremist content. (Washington Post)
  • New research finds that tweets promoting false narratives and conspiracies about the LGBTQ+ community grooming children have increased 119% since Musk bought the platform. (Center for Countering Digital Hate)
  • New research shows a 106% increase in antisemitic posts on Twitter since Musk’s takeover. (CASM Technology and Institute for Strategic Dialogue)
  • Elon Musk’s Twitter makes millions off anti-LGBT ‘groomer’ tweets (Daily Beast)
  • Elon Musk’s Twitter hit with Holocaust denial hate speech lawsuit in Germany (TechCrunch)
  • Concerned about fake news and hate speech, Sweden’s public radio closes Twitter accounts (Euronews)
  • Even top advertisers executives themselves are discussing the risk of association with Elon Musk’s brand of racism. (Semafor

Despite being a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” Musk is using Twitter to engage his personal grudges and carry out his own ego-driven ambitions.

  • “At Elon Musk’s Twitter, speech is anything but free…from its shift to pay-for-play to impulsive policy changes made by Musk, the site more resembles an intrigue-filled palace than the town square that Musk says he seeks to protect.” (Axios)
  • “Twitter’s algorithm specifically tracks how Elon Musk’s tweets are doing” and identifies accounts based on their political party. (Mashable)
  • Dogecoin jumps after Elon Musk replaces Twitter bird with Shiba Inu (CNN)
  • Twitter now auto-replies to press emails with a poop emoji (NPR

Twitter is giving authoritarian regimes credibility while undermining independent news sources:

  • Twitter’s labeling of NPR a boon for foreign propagandists, critics say (Washington Post)
  • Twitter is no longer policing Russian and Chinese state-backed media (Semafor)
  • Pro-Russia Accounts Used Twitter Blue to Push Ohio Train Derailment Misinfo (Daily Beast)
  • Twitter hasn’t removed verified check marks — except from The New York Times (NBC News)
  • CBC ‘pausing’ use of Twitter after ‘government-funded media’ label (PBS)

Twitter’s IP and user data have been exposed to massive security breaches, while researchers’ access to the platform is blocked.

  • A significant portion of Twitter’s source code was leaked by an unknown source, exposing users to hackers who could exploit security weaknesses to gain access to sensitive data. (New York Times)
  • Twitter “goes to war” with researchers, leaving most researchers unable to monitor and sound the alarm over the platform’s rapid spread of misinformation. (Politico EU
  • “Twitter’s $42k per month API prices out nearly everyone: Tiers will start at $500,000 a year for access to 0.3% of the company’s tweets. Researchers say that’s too much for too little data.” (Wired

Advertisers are fleeing the platform as users’ ad experience worsens.

  • More than half of Twitter’s advertisers have fled the platform in droves, reducing the company’s ad revenue by 40%. (Vox)
  • As the user-advertising experience becomes clunkier, Twitter is courting lesser-known companies who use aggressive advertising tactics in an attempt to stop the revenue freefall. (Wall Street Journal
  • More than half of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers stopped spending on the platform, data shows (CNN)
  • Twitter ad revenue plunges 89% since Musk takeover as major brands stay away (The Wrap)
  • Twitter Outages Are on the Rise Amid Elon Musk’s Job Cuts (NYT)
  • Even Twitter employees admit the platform experience “sucks” (NYT)

Twitter is losing money and facing legal battles as he has merged Twitter with his shell company, X Corp.

  • Is Twitter finally dying? (Vox)
  • Musk’s recent stock grants to Twitter employees valued the company at $20 billion — less than half the price the billionaire paid for it in October. (The Information)
  • Twitter faces lawsuit alleging millions in unpaid expenses (CBS News
  • Elon Musk’s Twitter accused of unlawful staff firings in UK (CNN
  • A new group of Twitter vendors is suing the company for alleged unpaid bills (CNN)

Elon’s speech in Miami Beach today should do little to sweep away the alarming truth: Since he took the helm, Twitter has lost basic functionality, suffered serious security breaches, and has supercharged hate speech and misinformation. As Media Matters for America sums it up: “Regardless of what Musk may say on April 18, advertisers should beware that their ads could be shown next to misinformation, extremism, conspiracy theories, and bigotry that Musk has allowed — and even contributed to — since taking over Twitter.”

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