OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
There is a new sheriff in Twitter town and he is changing things.
One of the first changes the new Twitter CEO Elon Musk is making is getting rid of all of the lifetime bans of Twitter users who were banned for speech infractions, which would presumably include former President Donald Trump, Bloomberg News reported.
Others who have had their accounts banned include Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Laura Loomer, Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, and Milo Yiannopoulos.
“The person with knowledge of Musk’s account reinstatement intentions said it’s unclear whether Trump will be allowed to return to Twitter,” Bloomberg said.
But Musk has said previously that Twitter should not have banned the former president and that he should be reinstated.
“It was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” he said in May. “I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”
“He’s now going to be on Truth Social, as will a large part of the right in the United States. So, I think this could end up being, frankly, worse than having a single forum where everyone can debate,” he said.
“I would reverse the Twitter ban. Obviously, I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not a thing that will definitely happen,” he said.
But now he does own Twitter and he has been making changes.
The deal was done on Thursday and the Tesla, Space X, Starlink and now Twitter CEO immediately fired the CEO and CFO of the company, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Mr. Musk fired Chief Executive Parag Agrawal and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal after the deal closed, the people said. Spokespeople for Twitter didn’t comment.
It wasn’t immediately clear who would step into those top positions. CNBC previously reported the firings.
Mr. Musk also fired Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top legal and policy executive, and Sean Edgett, general counsel.
There were signs that the deal was coming close to being done this week.
Musk’s on-again, off-again pursuit of Twitter took a decidedly positive turn earlier this month when reports surfaced that he would complete the $44 billion deal.
Or a negative turn, depending upon a person’s perspective. Either way, the SpaceX and Tesla founder gave off another huge clue on Tuesday that the deal was proceeding, and he did so in the most Musk of ways.
He posted a video clip of himself walking into Twitter headquarters in San Francisco carrying a sink, adding: “Entering Twitter HQ – Let that sink in!”
Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022
In addition, Musk changed his Twitter bio to read “Chief Twit.” Later, he tweeted, “Meeting a lot of cool people at Twitter today.”
Meeting a lot of cool people at Twitter today!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022
The actions come as Musk faces a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday to either complete the deal, or litigation against him to force him to proceed with it will relaunch in Delaware.
All said, Musk is prepared to make major changes to the workforce at Twitter when he officially owns the company.
For instance, he plans to cut the workforce by “nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 workers, whittling the company down to a skeleton staff of just over 2,000, the Washington Post reported. But even if Musk does not complete his purchase of Twitter the report said that the current owners plan to cut the workforce by 25 percent:
The extent of the cuts, which have not been previously reported, helps explain why Twitter officials were eager to sell to Musk: Musk’s $44 billion bid, though hostile, is a golden ticket for the struggling company — potentially helping its leadership avoid painful announcements that would have demoralized the staff and possibly crippled the service’s ability to combat misinformation, hate speech and spam.
The impact of such layoffs would likely be immediately felt by millions of users, said Edwin Chen, a data scientist formerly in charge of Twitter’s spam and health metrics and now CEO of the content-moderation start-up Surge AI. He said that while he believed Twitter was overstaffed, the cuts Musk proposed were “unimaginable” and would put Twitter’s users at risk of hacks and exposure to offensive material such as child pornography.
“It would be a cascading effect,” the data scientist said. “where you’d have services going down and the people remaining not having the institutional knowledge to get them back up, and being completely demoralized and wanting to leave themselves.”
“The easy part for Musk was buying Twitter and the hard part is fixing it,” financial analyst Dan Ives said. “It will be a herculean challenge to turn this around.”
“He’s got to be able to show if he makes those cuts, what happens next?” corporate governance expert Nell Minow said. “What’s he gonna replace it with, AI?”