Elon Musk “doesn’t know what he’s doing” with Twitter and “makes everyone alarmed”, a former executive has said, after major brands suspended ad spending on the platform and the company laid off employees. thousands of employees.
Bruce Daisley, Twitter’s vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa from 2015 to 2020, said he was devastated by the anti-democratic changes on Twitter and would leave the platform “without hesitation” if there were any a good alternative.
“I think Elon thought he was going to come in and figure it all out and very quickly he’s going to figure out it’s a lot more complicated,” he told the podcast. News agencies This weekend. “It’s pretty obvious with every public action he’s taken with this whole acquisition: he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Daisley, who was Twitter’s most senior executive in London, also criticized Musk’s plan to charge users $8 a month for a “blue tick” verification symbol. He told the Observer Musk was trading the “legitimacy of verified sources” for “pocket money”. “The fact that we have no recourse on this is undemocratic,” he said.
And he tweeted in support of a Twitter employee who was sacked amid mass layoffs on Friday, who he described as having “helped crack down on abusive tweets against high profile Twitter users”. Daisley wrote: “Four weeks from now, when there’s a racist World Cup tweet on the front pages, remember Musk chose to let this happen.”
The fierce criticism comes after Musk implemented a series of changes to Twitter that raised concerns about his approach to misinformation and hate speech.
Billionaire Tesla – who bought Twitter on Oct. 27 for $44 billion – laid off about 50% of Twitter employees on Friday, saying he had “no choice” as the company is losing more than $4 million. dollars per day. The layoffs would have gutted teams that cover human rights, ethics and curation. It also included people in moderation, although Twitter security chief Yoel Roth said “basic moderation capabilities” remained.
On Saturday, Jack Dorsey, co-founder and former chief executive of Twitter, suggested the massive layoffs were necessary because it had grown too quickly. “I’m responsible for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the business too quickly. I apologize for that,” said Dorsey, who left Twitter’s board in May and backed Musk’s takeover.
Hours after the mass layoffs, US President Joe Biden called out Musk and slammed misinformation on Twitter, saying at a campaign event in Chicago that he bought an outfit that “spews lies all over the world”.
Musk previously said he would liberalize Twitter’s policies in the name of free speech, indicating he would allow previously banned accounts to join, but stressed that Twitter’s “strong commitment” to moderation remains ” absolutely unchanged”.
Last week, he announced the formation of a content moderation council, bringing together “very diverse views”, and said no decisions on moderation or reinstatement of accounts would be made until that council would not have met.
Even so, Twitter appears to have scared off some advertisers, with several apparently suspending ad spending and others expected to consider their position.
General Mills, known for Cheerios cereal and Lucky Charms, became the latest to suspend advertising on the platform last Thursday, with a spokesperson saying it would “continue to monitor” Twitter’s new direction. Pfizer, Mondelez, General Motors and Volkswagen are also said to have temporarily halted spending.
In a tweet on Friday, Musk said Twitter had seen a “massive drop in revenue” and blamed “activist groups” for pressuring advertisers. “Extremely messed up! They are trying to destroy free speech in America,” he told his 114 million followers. He then suggested posting the names of advertisers who are suspending spending, tweeting that “thermonuclear name and disgrace is exactly what will happen if this continues.”
Earlier in the week, Stop Toxic Twitter, a coalition including the NAACP, called on the platform’s 20 biggest advertisers to tell Musk they would suspend advertising if he followed through on plans to “undermine standards.” community and moderation of social network content”.
Stephan Loerke of the World Federation of Advertisers said a number of brands were considering their actions, but would judge Twitter on “facts and actions”, rather than speculation. “We are learning from the owners of Twitter that they remain committed to the progress made so far. We will work with Twitter on that basis and judge them on their actions,” he told the Observer. He added that brands have learned “how important it is to control the content they appear next to, because people will associate brands with content.”
Some users have also threatened to leave the platform, with figures provided to the Observer suggesting an increase in signups for alternative platforms such as Mastodon, a decentralized social network touted as an alternative to Twitter.