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Elon Musk Vs His Twitter Critics LIVE: Row Explodes Over $8 Blue Tick Fee

As Elon Musk attempts to reduce Twitter's reliance on advertisers, he faces resistance from prominent politicians and other public figures.

Written By
sagar kar

Image: AP/Unsplash

21:51 IST, November 3rd 2022
Twitter, the most interesting place on internet? And a 'collective, cybernetic super-intelligence'?

Musk believes that Twitter is the most interesting place on internet. Whether it really is or not is a subjective call, what one can conclude objectively based on data is that Twitter, unlike instagram on tiktok, attracts mostly people from upper end of the income distribution. In other words, an average regular user of Twitter is more well off than the average user of any other social media platform. 

Twitter also has an outsized influence on politics and culture because even though politicians and journalists use other social media platforms to disseminate their message, both politicians and journalists primarily use Twitter as their own public sphere, where they interact and learn from other people in their profession.


Twitter, in other words, is the social media platform of patricians, which is why despite having tiny revenue, compared to Google and Meta, it has an outsized influence. This is also the reason why despite have a meagre user base compared to Google, Meta and Tiiktok, Elon Musk is willing to pay $44 billion for the platform. 



21:21 IST, November 3rd 2022
CEO of Dell praises Elon Musk

The CEO of Dell (yes, the Dell of Dell laptops and computers), Michael Dell has praised Elon Musk in a tweet, by quoting an iconic speech from Teddy Roosevelt, who played a pivotal role in turning America into a geopolitical power during the Gilded Age. The high praise from someone like Michael Dell is signficant as Michael Dell is not just a CEO but the founder of Dell as well. 



21:00 IST, November 3rd 2022
"Spoiler alert: you get what you pay for," says Musk

Musk seems quite determined to make verified Twitter users pay $8. The criticsm, if anything, has led to him doubling down. 


Musk has also asked Twitter users if advertisers should support free speech or limitations on speech.


The people who voted on the poll, and it was not a small poll, certainly seem to think a manner that aligns with Musk's vision for the platform.

20:39 IST, November 3rd 2022
Democrat politician attempts to mock Musk, ends up getting mocked herself

Demoract party politician Alexendria Ocasio Cortez(AOC) is quite popular on social media sites and she proudly considers calls herself a socialist. Some time ago, she got into a bit of controversy when it emerged that she owns a Tesla, which does not really seem like a car that a representative of working class would have. 

AOC, a politician, spends a fair bit of her time criticising people who engineer the social media companies that she uses to disseminate her political rhetoric. 


The attempt to mock Musk did not go well.

AOC has often been accused of weaponising envy against people who are materially more well off. Last year, during an interview to Wall Street Journal, Musk said that he does not think most people have a problem with a person who acquire wealth by providing something valuable to the society. "People have a problem with conspicuous consumption I think," he said during the interview. Musk is famous for living in a 'frugal' house, frugal considering the amount of money he has. 

Musk also shared AOC's own website on which she sells regular sweatshirts with just her name on in for a whooping $58. 



20:23 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk's Twitter fact-checks the White House

Twitter has often been accused of politcal bias as it frequently fact-checks politicians who are right of centre and almost never fact-checks polticians on the left side of the ideological spectrum. This is one of the reason Musk fired Vijaya Gadde, as she was not viewed as a non-partisan employee. 


The fact that she led the decision process which resulted in the sitting president of US getting banned from Twitter, did not help. After his acquisition, despite firing Gadde and claiming Twitter will not have a political bias, Musk faces the challenge of restoring trust in Twitter's neurality. Under him, it appears, Twitter has started its effort to regain that trust by fact-checking the White House. 


The White House has now as a result deleted its own tweet, because the attempt to spin inflation did not work. Musk has signalled that he is happy with the fact-checks. 


17:44 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk gives an insight into what according to him is driving the criticism towards him

From the tweets Musk is replying to, one can assume what he thinks is driving the criticism towards him. According to him, he is taking away the privilege Twitter 'elites' have and that is why they are angry with him. 


Another tweet Musk retweeted is the one down below: 

It seems Musk has read books by James Burnham which suggest that the first step after aquiring a new nation (well, organisation in this case) should be to flatten the heirarchy. From Musk's tweets and his replies, it seem other than the obvious financial point of increasing revenue from non-advertisement sources, this is one of his motivation. 

March Andreessen, the head of Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm which is loaning out Sriram Krishnan to Musk, to help him with the rejig, has said many times that he considers works of Burnham the most insighful work on politics. 

17:36 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk has a laugh at the expense of 'celebrities'

After Musk's announcement that verified accounts will need to pay $8 to maintain their verification badge, some people other than Stephen King also began saying that they won't be paying the $8 per month. 

Musk had an amusing response to an admittedly rather humorous tweet from a fox news journalist.



17:27 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk explains his rationale behind charging $8 for verification

Elon promised in his reply to Stephen King that he will explain his rationale in a detailed manner and he does. Musk lays out why he wants to charge $8 per month for a verification badge and gives a glimpse of what other benifits users who agree to pay the $8 will have, other than the verification badge. 

Are all these features enough to make you consider paying $8? Musk thinks they are..


17:18 IST, November 3rd 2022
After negotiating with Stephen King, Musk shifts his attention to SpaceX

It is possible that due to Musk's tweets about Twitter, one might forget that he heads SpaceX and Tesla, two companies which have broken the established norms in their respective sector. Rockets are not really reused, they have always been like bullets, one bullet = one shot. 


Yes, space shuttles which are manned, have been landed, obviously, how else would the astronauts come back? But the rockets have not been reusable. Parts of the rocket have been used during the manufacturing stage of the next rocket, but a whole rocket being reused? It has always seemed like something out of science fiction.

That is, until Musk's SpaceX began getting traction in the space exploration buissness. Musk, who grew up on science fiction and has credited the book - 'A hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy' as the reason he is what he is today, suggested one day "why don't we reuse the rockets? Why don't we land them after launching them?" 


Can't be done, said many critics. Musk said anything that does not violate the laws of physics, can be done. SpaceX is now a pioneer in launching rockets and landing them in a manner that they can be reused. 


17:03 IST, November 3rd 2022
'How about $8?' - Musk asks Stephen King, as he negotiates and explains his predicament

It isn't an everday occurance to watch the richest man in history negotiate like a shopowner in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar and it certainly is amusing. In response to the author Stephen King's tweet, Musk asks the author if he will be willing to pay $8 instead of $20.


Elon says that Twitter needs to pay the bills and cannot keep relying on advertisers, adding that he will explain his rationale in a longer form later.



16:55 IST, November 3rd 2022
$20 per month of maintain your verification badge? 'No' says Stephen King

Speculation emerges that Musk has given Twitter employees the deadline of 7th November to implement his new plan. What is his new plan? Well, it is an effort to reduce Twitter's dependence on advertisers for revenue. As of now, nearly 90 percent of Twitter revenues are a result of payments from advertisers.


Musk want the platform to rely less on a single source of revenue and diversify. In the past, Twitter has dabbled with subscriptions by launching something called Twitter blue. It did not really take off. 


Musk's plan is that Twitter users who have a verification badge, should pay to maintian that verification badge, as they are using Twitter's platform to disseminate their content and gaining value from it. Musk also plans to open up the verification badge to many more people, so that anyone who pays for it, can get themselves verified. 



16:42 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk dissolves Twitter's board and becomes the sole director

A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that Musk has dismissed the firm's board and assumed the role of sole director.

“On October 27, 2022, and as a result of the consummation of the Merger, Mr. Musk became the sole director of Twitter. In accordance with the terms of the Merger Agreement, effective as of the effective time of the Merger, the following persons, who were directors of Twitter prior to the effective time of the Merger, are no longer directors of Twitter: Bret Taylor, Parag Agrawal, Omid Kordestani, David Rosenblatt, Martha Lane Fox, Patrick Pichette, Egon Durban, Fei-Fei Li and Mimi Alemayehou.”

Musk clarifies that he is the sole-director only temporarily. It is expected that Musk will appoint new members to the board of directors, members, who in his judgement, are aligned with his vision of what Twitter should be. 


16:22 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk dodges questions on Trump's reinstatement

Although Musk has fired Vijaya Gadde, the person responsbile for banning Trump from the platform, he has not stated if Trump will return on the platform. Trump has indicated that he prefers to use his own platform which is called 'Truth Social'. However, Trump's platoform has a limited userbase and it is not clear if he will truly choose to not take advantage of the reach that Twitter grants him. Especially considering the fact that he might run for president again. 

Musk has said that no decision on allowing people who have been banned has been taken and no such decision will be taken before the US midterm elections. 



16:15 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk toys with the idea of bringing back Vine

Musk asks Twitter users if he should bring back Vine. Vine was a short video sharing app which did not really get traction. Vine was acquired by Twitter in the hope that they could expand the user base of the platform and make it a popular short video sharing app. They did not succeed. Some claim that Vine was ahead of its time as short video sharing apps were not really a thing in the 2014s and 15s. 

However, short video sharing app became a lucrative sector for social media apps after Tiktok's success. Instagram started its own reels feature to compete with Tiktok. If Musk does indeed bring back Vine, it will be an attempt to reduce the share of market that Tiktok currently occupies. Tiktok is owned by China's Bytedance and faces accusations of spying. Tiktok was banned by India due to national security concerns. People in American think-tanks such as Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Insititute have suggested that US should follow India's lead and ban Tiktok. 


Ironically, China does not have Tiktok, but a domestic version called Douyin. Tristan Harris, a former tech ethicist at Google has pointed out that the app's algorithm outside of China is different from its algorithm inside China. The algorithm decides what kind of content receives a wider audience and in effect, incentivises or disincentivises people to put out certain kinds of content. 

Harris points out that whilst the algorithm in US promotes soft-porn, which leads to people creating that kind of content as that is the content which is incentivised, the algorithm in China promotes kids performing science experiments. On the ground, the app nudges individuals in US to record content that is corrosive, and in China, it nudges individuals to record content that is inspiring. 

15:58 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk speaks about attack on Pelosi's husband and ridicules NYTimes

After US Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband is assaulted inside his house by an illegal immigrant from Canada, Musk shares an article from a controversial news website in response to a tweet by Hillary Clinton, which was blaming Republicans for the attack on Paul Pelosi. 

After it is pointed out that the source from which he shared the news is unreliable, Musk deletes the tweet. The NYTimes publishes an article claiming that Musk shared fake news. Musk makes his fellow Twitter users laugh at the expense of NYTimes by claiming that he could not have shared an article with fake news bacause he did not share an article published by NYTimes. 



15:50 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk shares an email he received from Twitter, poking fun at it

The new owner of Twitter shares an auto-generated email he received from Twitter to teach him how to manage a compnay.


For context, Musk, when he is not on Twitter, is busy managing four companies - Tesla, a an industry pioneer in the space of electric vehicles, SpaceX, a rocket manufacturing and space exploration company which launches missions to the space in a much more efficient manner than NASA and as a result gets contracts from NASA and US Airforce, and NeuraLink and The Boring Company. 


NeuraLink is an experimental company that is foccussed on brain computer interface. 


15:43 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk announces he is planning to revamp the verification process

In a reply to Sriram Krishnan's announcement, one user asks Krishnan "any chance in helping with verification? Denied some 4-5 times despite large following and working to share spaceflight/rocket launches to the masses via my photography. Published in a plethora of huge outlets but Twitter doesn’t seem to care!" 

Musk replies to the user by announcing "the whole verification process is being revamped right now". 


15:36 IST, November 3rd 2022
Musk ropes in Sriram Krishnan, a partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz to help him with the transition

October 30 - After firing the senior executives of the firm, Elon Musk ropes in Sriram Krishnan to help him with the rejig. Sriram Krishnan manages the crypto and Web3 arm of Andreessen Horowitz and he continues his day job with the venture capital firm. The VC firm was founded by Marc Andreessen, who is a friend of Musk. According to court documents that detailed Musk's conversations during his decision to acquire the firm, Marc Andreessen was one of the first people to congratulate him. 

Sriram Krishnan has a background in software companies. He worked at Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook (Meta) and Microsoft before working for the venture capital firm. 


15:26 IST, November 3rd 2022
After closing the deal, Musk fires senior executives of Twitter

October 28th, Elon Musk fires senior executives of Twitter including its CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and legal head Viajaya Gadde. Gadde is apparently the one who decided that Twitter should ban the serving president of the US, Donald Trump. Gadde also made an appearence on the Joe Rogan podcast with the then CEO of the company Jack Dorsey. Joe Rogan had called in journalist Tim Pool to question her. She was ridiculed by Rogan's audience for lying during her appearence and refusing to answer any question honestly. 


After Musk fired her, users on Twitter shared an editied clip of Musk's and Gadde's appearence on the Joe Rogan podcast, ridiculing her. 


15:26 IST, November 3rd 2022
After months of drama, Elon Musk acquires Twitter and visits the headquarters with a sink

On October 26th, after month of drama and threat of court case, Elon Musk finally buys twitter and visit the Twitter headquarters with a sink, tweeting "Let that sink in". Good old dad humour. Musk's intention to buy Twitter became public in the month of April, when a parody page named "Babylon Bee" was banned by Twitter, which motivated Musk to buy the platform. Babylon Bee is a conervative parody site, something quite similar to "the Onion" but only right leaning instead of left leaning. 


Musk also communicates his intentions and vision for Twitter to advertisers directly.