Archive for Twitter

Twitter Massively Misses Ad Revenue Targets Further Adding To Elon Musk’s Troubles

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 3, 2022 by itnerd

Elon Musk’s troubles with Twitter are really starting to mount. And that’s being illustrated by this New York Times article that a reader pointed me towards were Twitter is massively missing its ad revenue targets at a time that Twitter should not only be hitting them, but exceeding them:

The World Cup has historically been a boon for Twitter, bringing in record traffic and an influx of advertising dollars.

But this time, when the global soccer tournament started on Nov. 20, Twitter’s U.S. ad revenue was running at 80 percent below internal expectations for that week, three people with knowledge of the figures said.

In tandem, Twitter was rapidly cutting its revenue projections. The company previously forecast that it would generate $1.4 billion in the last three months of the year, down from $1.6 billion a year ago because of the global economic downturn. But as Twitter kept missing its weekly advertising targets, that number slid to $1.3 billion, then to $1.1 billion, two people said.

Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has warned repeatedly that his social media company faces dire financial straits. Interviews with seven former employees and internal documents seen by The New York Times paint a fuller picture of Twitter’s financial woes.

Here’s why this is happening according to the Times:

Many of the company’s troubles can be traced to Mr. Musk’s takeover in late October. Since then, advertisers — which provide 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue — have paused some spending on the platform, citing concerns about how Mr. Musk might change the service. The billionaire, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” has reinstated banned accounts and dropped at least one misinformation policy. Hate speech on Twitter has soared in recent weeks, researchers found.

At the same time, Mr. Musk has alternated between wooing advertisers and blasting them. Last month, he threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” of brands that halted their spending on Twitter. This week, he briefly picked a fight with Apple, which was on track to spend more than $180 million on Twitter ads this year, three people said.

Elon has really painted himself into a corner here with no clear way to get himself out of the situation that he’s in. His behavior has sent Twitter into free fall. And at some point he’ll have to make a call as to what he will do to salvage the situation. Because the longer that this goes on, the less options that Elon has at his disposal. Which means that it is more likely that Twitter crashes and burns under his watch.

Kayne West Gets Suspended From Twitter Again

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 2, 2022 by itnerd

This guy doesn’t get it.

Apparently Kayne West, or Ye, or whatever this clown calls himself posted a picture of a swastika last night. And that resulted in him getting suspended from Twitter again.

Rapper Kanye West is on yet another a timeout from Twitter after testing the limits of owner Elon Musk’s free speech policy. Twitter issued West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, a 12-hour suspension late Thursday after Ye tweeted a picture of swastika inside a Star of David with the caption “YE24 LOVE EVERYONE #LOVESPEECH”.

West turned to the platform Truth Social to post a picture of a notification informing him of the suspension due to his violation of Twitter’s rules. Musk confirmed on Twitter that West’s suspension was due to “incitement of violence.” It had nothing to do, he added, with the unflattering photos Ye had tweeted of Musk wearing swimwear on a yacht. “Frankly, I found those pics to be helpful motivation to lose weight,” Musk said.

A 12 hour suspension isn’t enough. He’s proven to be anti-semitic by his words and actions. Thus his timeout from Twitter should be forever. But clearly Elon doesn’t see things that way. Perhaps it will take even more advertisers bailing out on the platform to change his mind?

Elon Musk Takes A Trip To See Tim Cook…. And Other News From The Twitter Circus

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 30, 2022 by itnerd

Elon Musk continues to make news. And I will start with his most recent piece of news which is that Elon paid a visit to the Apple Campus to see Tim Cook.

No word on what they talked about. But seeing as Elon teed off on Apple multiple times earlier this week, and Apple cutting advertising and deleting its Tweets, he might have had to take a trip to make peace with Apple CEO Tim Cook. This despite word that Elon wants to find a way to keep Apple from taking 30% from every Twitter Blue subscription, which by the way means that Twitter Blue is apparently on hold until that part is figured out. Knowing how Elon can’t keep his mouth shut, I am sure that we will find out some version of this story soon enough.

Another story that surfaced today is that Tesla stock has taken a huge hit since Elon took over at Twtter:

Tesla stock is down 30% since Musk, the electric-car maker’s chief executive, completed his acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 28.

And:

Tesla stock is down 52% since Musk first revealed a 9% stake in Twitter in early April.

If you own the stock, you are likely not happy. And if you’re Elon, the ability for Tesla stock to fund the day to day operations of Twitter has decreased as a result.

Next, from the “see I told you so” department is this:

Elon Musk has been told he faces “huge work ahead” to bring Twitter into compliance with new European rules on disinformation or face a possible ban.

European Union commissioner Thierry Breton made the comments in a meeting with Mr Musk on Wednesday.

He said the social media site would have to address issues such as content moderation, disinformation and targeted adverts.

The back-and-forth comes as the new law is set to go into effect.

And what happens if Elon doesn’t get his act together? Well…:

If firms are found to be violation, they face fines of up to 6% of global turnover – or a ban in the case of repeated serious breaches.

And it’s a safe bet that Elon can’t afford the fines, nor can he afford to have Twitter banned in the EU. Which means that he has a problem. Just like I said he would. It will be interesting to see if he tries to comply with the EU, and anger the rather unsavory characters that he’s encouraged to jump onto Twitter. Or he thumbs his nose at the EU, and risks fines that he can’t afford along with potentially being Thanos snapped out of the 27 EU member states.

One thing that was interesting from this report was this:

In a statement after the meeting, Mr Breton said he welcomed Mr Musk’s assurances that he would get Twitter ready to comply.

“Let’s also be clear that there is still huge work ahead, as Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech, tackle disinformation with resolve, and limit targeted advertising,” he said.

“All of this requires sufficient AI (Artificial Intelligence) and human resources, both in volumes and skills. I look forward to progress in all these areas and we will come to assess Twitter’s readiness on site.”

The EU plans to conduct a “stress test” in 2023 ahead of a wider audit, his office said.

So while that sounds like he’s going to comply, I am not willing to put money on that just yet.

Finally Twitter put out a blog post that among other things, said this:

  • First, none of our policies have changed. Our approach to policy enforcement will rely more heavily on de-amplification of violative content: freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.
  • Our Trust & Safety team continues its diligent work to keep the platform safe from hateful conduct, abusive behavior, and any violation of Twitter’s rules. The team remains strong and well-resourced, and automated detection plays an increasingly important role in eliminating abuse.
  • When urgent events manifest on the platform, we ensure that all content moderators have the guidance they need to find and address violative content. 
  • As we improve our policies and processes, bad actors will also develop new methods of disruption. This is not new. Our team of experts is constantly adapting to identify and defuse threats, and we are proud of our early results: impressions on violative content are down over the past month, despite the growth in overall usage on the platform.
  • Finally, as we embark on this new journey, we will make mistakes, we will learn, and we will also get things right. Throughout, we’ll communicate openly with our users and customers, to get and share your feedback as we build. 

We remain committed to providing a safe, inclusive, entertaining, and informative experience for everyone. We will continue to be transparent as we move through this transition period. And we will listen to you, the people who make Twitter what it is: the town square of the internet. 

I’m sorry. But everything that has happened to date seems to indicate the opposite is happening at Twitter. I’d sit here and pick this apart, but I haven’t got that kind of time. The fact is that this blog post is window dressing that was put out there in hopes of putting out the many fires that Elon has started since he took over. Nobody is going to buy this. Not governments, not advertisers, and not the users who feel that Twitter is no longer safe. If Twitter in general, or Elon specifically want to talk about Twitter being a safe space for all, the need to start proving it. Immediately.

Apple Appears To Have Deleted Its Tweets From Twitter

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

If you go to Apple’s Twitter page, you’ll see something interesting. Which is nothing:

Apple appears to have deleted everything from their Twitter page. There is literally nothing left. I also checked Apple Podcasts and Apple Music and the same thing hasn’t happened on those two twitter accounts. But you have to wonder if that’s going to happen shortly. This has to part of what set Elon off yesterday when he went on multiple Twitter rants about Apple. Then there’s likely the fact that Apple not advertising on Twitter will cost him about $100 million. Either way, Apple is expressing its displeasure with Elon as only Apple can.

The next few days should be interesting to watch.

As Twitter Restores Banned Accounts, Things Go REALLY Downhill For The Social Media Platform

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

Since starting to cover this story, I’ve been saying on a daily basis that it cannot possibly get any worse. Except that it keeps getting worse and at some point, things will break for Twitter and it will be game over for the platform and it’s rather unstable leader Elon Musk. Here’s what’s happened overnight. And it’s a lot so buckle up:

First up, banned accounts are returning today. And according to Platformer around 62,000 banned or suspended accounts with 10k+ followers have so far been reinstated:

In fact, since Musk’s poll, Twitter has begun the process of reinstating roughly 62,000 accounts with more than 10,000 followers, Platformer has learned, including one account that has over 5 million followers, and 75 accounts with over 1 million followers. (The identities of the accounts could not be learned before press time.) Internally, employees have referred to this event as “the Big Bang.”

The project could cause more instability at Twitter at a time when the company is hemorrhaging engineering talent, according to current employees. Each reinstatement requires Twitter to rebuild a social graph, activating data on who the account follows and who follows the account. For large accounts like Trump’s, with 88 million followers, that’s millions of lists that Twitter has to update and maintain. 

Also, the same Platformer article shows that Musk has apparently come up with his own “reality distortion field” when it comes to Twitter Blue:

The move also comes the same week that Musk plans to relaunch Twitter Blue, allowing anyone to buy a verified badge for $8 a month. An internal document about the launch, designed for employees in sales, says that impersonations have been “extremely rare,” despite all evidence to the contrary

“We anticipated early efforts like this from bad actors, and we are adapting dynamically to prevent and detect them,” the document reads. What about “large scale coordinated misinformation attacks funded by wealthy organizations or governments?” the document asks. “Large-scale bad actors would also require a huge supply of unique credit card numbers and mobile phones,” the document says. “As we detect and suspend these, the logistical hurdles to re-offend at scale become insurmountable.”

Uh… No. We saw what happened the last time. It was a mess. And this re-launch has the potential to be the same for Twitter.

Now over to Donald Trump. You know, the first guy to be let back onto Twitter by Musk. Except that he’s still suing Twitter:

Donald Trump is not backing down from his ongoing legal fight against Twitter despite his ban from the site being lifted by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk.

Trump’s attorney, John Coale, said the former US president has no plans to withdraw his appeal against a May ruling that dismissed his lawsuit against Twitter, per Bloomberg.

Earlier this month, Trump asked an appeals court to revive his legal challenge against Twitter for suspending his account after the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.

Trump separately sued Meta’s Facebook and Google’s YouTube over similar bans they imposed on him after the riot.

Lawyers for Trump argue that the Twitter ban was “contrary to First Amendment principles,” and amounted to “overtly partisan censorship,” according to court documents.

However, legal experts have said it will be challenging for them to prove that the ban amounted to censorship, per Bloomberg.

Despite Trump’s Twitter account being reinstated, Coale said the former president had no intention to drop the case without reaching an agreement on terms to end the dispute, per Bloomberg.

“There’s more to it than just letting him back in so we want to talk to see if we can figure something out,” Coale said. “You don’t just do things on your own, you should talk to the other side or wait.”

Trump seems to want back onto Twitter. But on his terms. And despite having his own social media platform which he claims that he wants to stick to. That’s curious. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.

Next up, is Wired reporting that cuts to Twitter CSAM monitors have been drastic. How drastic you ask? Well…:

REMOVING CHILD EXPLOITATION is “priority #1”, Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk declared last week. But, at the same time, following widespread layoffs and resignations, just one staff member remains on a key team dedicated to removing child sexual abuse content from the site, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who both requested to remain anonymous. 

It’s unclear how many people were on the team before Musk’s takeover. On LinkedIn, WIRED identified four Singapore-based employees who specialize in child safety who said publicly they left Twitter in November. 

With only one person on that time, I am not sure how Musk squares that circle. Because clearly with that staffing level, it’s not “priority #1” for musk.

Finally is CNN reporting that alongside the account restorations, Twitter has abandoned its ban on harmful COVID-19 misinformation:

Twitter did not appear to formally announce the rule change. Instead, some Twitter users Monday night spotted a note added to the page on Twitter’s website that outlines its Covid policy.

“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” the note read.

Free speech is one thing. But allowing misinformation about a communicable disease that kills people is another thing entirely. And when you tie this into the sort of people Twitter is letting back onto the platform, it seems to me that Twitter is becoming a cesspool under Musk’s leadership. And he is fine with that quite clearly.

No wonder advertisers are leaving the platform in droves as they clearly don’t want to be associated with this sort of toxic mess.

Elon Musk Claims That Apple Is Threatening Him With The Removal Of The Twitter App From The App Store

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Related to this Twitter rant from Elon Musk earlier today comes this:

Musk then went on to say this:

I suspect Elon isn’t telling the complete truth here. My thought is that Apple did tell him why, assuming that this conversation did happen, but since that doesn’t fit with the narrative of being the victim, he’s resorted to this. But we don’t have both sides of this conversation so that’s impossible to prove or disprove.

It would not at all surprise me if Apple made demands to have moderation on the Twitter platform or face being Thanos Snapped off the App Store, just like Parler was after January 6th. This could be a terminal event for Twitter. Doubly so if Google follows suit. Which they did with Parler. So you can see why Elon has become extremely unhinged today. And he’s decided to pick a fight against a trillion dollar company in the process. The problem for Elon is that he will lose. Apple makes the decisions in terms of if and what is on its App Store, and there are rules that Twitter agreed to. Though Twitter has tested the limits of that from time to time. Regardless, Elon should really reconsider his position here because he doesn’t have the cards to play that will lead to a win.

Elon Musk Goes Off The Deep End By Accusing Apple Of Censorship And “Hating” Free Speech

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

From the “You can’t make this stuff up” department comes Elon Musk putting out a series of Tweets that accuses Apple of “hating” free speech and practising censorship. Here’s the start of Elon’s Tweetstorm:

Gee, perhaps Apple has joined the large number of Twitter advertisers who have paused advertising on Twitter because:

  1. Elon fired a lot of people. And a significant number of people who were left quit.
  2. Because of #1, there’s no moderation on the platform any longer. Which of course scares advertisers.
  3. Elon’s behaviour is, erratic to say the least.
  4. Twitter has seen hate speech skyrocket since Elon took over.
  5. Twitter needs advertisers more than advertisers need Twitter.

And by the way, like I said earlier today. Berating advertisers for pausing advertising Twitter is not a good business development strategy. But clearly Elon doesn’t see it that way.

But Elon wasn’t done there. He then said this:

Really? I am thinking that he’s conflating things. But without a context to work from, it’s hard to say. But if I had to guess, Apple was asking LBRY to do this to fight COVID misinformation.

Oh, you’ll note that Twitter automatically added a link to see the latest COVID info to the bottom of that Tweet.

Elon has clearly lost his mind as advertisers pausing ads on Twitter is costing him money and he doesn’t know how to solve that problem. And picking a fight with Apple is not a smart thing to do because Apple will likely win that fight. So perhaps Elon needs to take a chill pill and think about how he addresses this in a sane and rational manner. Just a thought.

UPDATE: This who thing has become a farce based on this:

Really? Perhaps Twitter should publish the rationale for who the ban or un-ban? After all, fair is fair right?

Elon Musk Can’t Pay His Staff On Time…. While The French Call Him Out Over Lack Of Content Moderation…. Oh Yeah, Twitter Is Hiring

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Imagine surviving the Twitter downsizing exercise, and then you make it to payday and find out that you haven’t been paid. That’s what’s happened apparently to Twitter employees:

Twitter staff in the United Kingdom and Germany didn’t receive their salaries as scheduled for November, journalist Chris Stokel-Walker reported. Employees normally get paid on the 28th of every month.

As a result, Stokel-Walker said some Twitter workers were forced to go into overdraft when the money didn’t appear as expected.

“This is a huge issue that has got current and former employees in private groups up in arms,” Stokel-Walker tweeted. “Staff in Ireland and the Netherlands were paid on time. In the last 30 minutes, some of the salaries have been hitting bank accounts… one at a time, suggesting they’re doing it by hand.”

Some irate staff members, including those cut from the company following Elon Musk‘s takeover, tweeted that they still haven’t been paid for November.

This might have something to do with the fact that Twitter has lost most of their payroll team. Because if you don’t have a payroll group, people aren’t going to get paid. And related to that, if you mess with people’s pay, those people will head to the exits because it is suicide for an employee to mess with people’s pay.

Oh yeah. It also affects recruitment efforts, which apparently Twitter is recruiting employees after downsizing employees:

Just a week after taking control of Twitter, new owner Elon Musk laid off around half the company’s staff.

Since then, the tech mogul and Tesla CEO has let further staff go, some through layoffs aimed at downsizing the company and others through more targeted firings.

But after scrambling to get rid of staff, Twitter is still now actually hiring, Musk said in a presentation to the company, slides from which he posted on Twitter.

“We’re recruiting,” the slide simply read.

Twitter’s job-search site, however, doesn’t show any open roles at the company.

Ignoring the fact that this suggests that the downsizings combined with mass resignations have placed Twitter behind the eight ball, I have to ask this question. Seeing as Twitter is literally become a train wreck next to a dumpster fire with Elon Musk at the controls, who would be crazy enough to work for Elon Musk? I would suggest only the truly desperate or those who are taking a risk would. And to those people I would submit the following: Look elsewhere because it isn’t worth it.

Finally, remember when I said that the EU might make Elon’s life more miserable than it already is…. That may be starting to happen:

Twitter has shown a lack of transparency in the fight against misinformation, France’s regulator in charge of digital communications Arcom said on Monday, as the social media platform faced heightened scrutiny following steep job cuts.

In a third yearly report on “the fight against the manipulation of information,” Arcom pointed to Twitter’s “very loose transparency regarding data” on the matter, adding that the company had provided “imprecise” details on how its automated tools worked.

A spokesperson for Twitter in France did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. The spokesperson has not responded to queries since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last month.

Arcom has no power to sanction online platforms for the spread of false information.

But under a French law adopted in 2018, 12 of these platforms must disclose the processes they have put in place to handle their own definition of misinformation, leading to “naming and shaming” presentations by the authority.

The 12 online platforms include Alphabet’s YouTube, online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, Meta’s Facebook and — for the first time — the fast-growing short-video platform TikTok, owned by China-based firm ByteDance.

French laws also compel large online platforms to provide means to its users to report false information that could alter the potential outcome of an election.

Twitter wasn’t the worst in class, according to Arcom’s report.

“TikTok, Yahoo and, to a lesser extent, Google, stand out particularly by the absence of tangible information allowing Arcom” to analyse the effectiveness of measures aimed at fighting information manipulation, the authority said.

The report comes a week after Twitter France’s head announced his resignation.

While Twitter wasn’t the worst here, this isn’t good news and is likely to get the attention of the EU. Who is likely chomping at the bit to pull him in for a little chat. And that will be very bad for Elon as being willing to be held accountable isn’t one of his strengths as a human being. Which means the EU will really have some “fun” with him as a result.

China Seems To Be Using Porn To Cover Up News About Protests In Chinese Cities

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

The title sounds weird. But hang with me. It will make sense in the end. There have been protests in a variety of Chinese cities over China’s strict COVID lockdown protocols. And this seems to have made the government nervous enough to use a novel tactic to make sure that news about these protests don’t get out. Via TechCrunch:

Search any major Chinese city on Twitter, and you will see a cascade of spam tweets showing porn, escort services, and gambling content that are published every few seconds, making it impossible to get any legitimate results.

There has been a “significant uptick” in these tweets over the last three days, according to a China-focused data analyst. The surge in such bot content coincides with an unprecedented wave of protests that have swept across major Chinese cities and universities over the weekend.

The demonstrations are largely a result of China’s zero-tolerance approach toward COVID-19, a rare show of defiance amongst the people. The country’s stringent COVID restrictions have led to prolonged lockdowns across the country, obstructing life, business, and manufacturing activities.

I have to admit that I did not have “China uses porn to cover up protests” on my BINGO card. That is very novel. Now according to the article Twitter is aware of this. And as this morning I was not able to reproduce this while last night I was. Thus there’s apparently someone left at Twitter who can take care of an issue like this. But now that China has done something like this, you can expect others to try the same thing. And then we’ll see how serious Elon Musk is about fighting bots on Twitter.

Elon Musk Is Whiny And Anti-Semetic… Let Me Explain

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

It seems that Elon Musk is hit two new lows when it comes to his behaviour. Let’s start with the fact that advertisers are running from advertising on Twitter in huge numbers. And according to this article, this has really ticked Elon off;

Elon Musk called up the chief executives of companies that pulled advertising spending from Twitter to complain, the Financial Times reported

A number of leading media buyers and advertising agencies say that almost all the major brands they act for have stopped ad spending on Twitter, the report said. 

Musk took it upon himself to personally call CEOs to chastise them, one industry figure told the FT, but his actions have backfired, the newspaper reported. 

Of course his actions have backfired. Calling up CEO’s to whine about them pulling adds is not an effective business development strategy. And this is another reason why you’re seeing less ads on Twitter:

Four industry figures told the Financial Times that in recent weeks agencies have not little communication with Twitter’s ads business team because so few staff were left following mass layoffs. 

Twitter’s ad systems have become bug-ridden, according to some media buyers, making it nearly impossible to launch campaigns. 

“It is quite unique. The turmoil, the damage, nothing of this magnitude has happened before. Never,” a big four advertising agency executive told the FT.

I have been using this phrase since the Twitter gong shows with Elon Musk being the ringmaster began. He’s turned Twitter into a train wreck next to a dumpster fire via his actions and his behaviour. Speaking of his behaviour, a reader pointed me towards an article in The Jerusalem Post that shows that Elon is playing the anti-semitic card when confronted with criticism. You be the judge:

Elon Musk called Jewish American retired US Army officer Lt.-Col. Alexander Vindman both a “puppet & puppeteer” on Monday in response to Vindman sharing a copypasta (copied and pasted text shared on the Internet) suggesting that Musk is “erratic” and too powerful now that he owns Twitter.

“Vindman is both puppet & puppeteer. Question is who pulls his strings … ?” Musk tweeted.

Musk’s tweet was in response to another one by Tablet magazine Chief Technology Officer Noah Blum mocking the copypasta, which said that it’s “Kinda weird that @elonmusk gets to decide how like a half-billion people communicate. Way too much power for one erratic individual to wield, don’t you think?”

Here’s the problem with that Tweet by Elon:

Musk’s tweet – deliberately or not – evoked an antisemitic trope that Jews are puppeteers who secretly wield power over various institutions or that they are puppets of the Israeli government.

An anti-semitic Tweet like this is massively problematic for Elon. It reinforces that he’s a racist, which is something that I said in this article from a week ago when he mocked Black Twitter. And I am pretty sure this will put Elon on a collision course with Apple and Google as it is becoming clear that Elon not only can’t or won’t moderate hate speech on Twitter, but his own behaviour is amplifying said hate speech. Which means that Apple and Google will have to make a choice as to if the Twitter app should be on their respective app stores. That’s on top of the fact that this is likely to send more advertisers to the exits because nobody wants to do business with a racist.

By the way, I checked his Twitter feed and the Tweets are still there. Read into that what you will.

Elon really needs to rethink how he acts and behaves as his current behaviour isn’t helping him in the slightest.