Category Archives: Twitter

GroupM Tells Advertisers Twitter Is A “High Risk” Media Buy

GroupM, the world’s largest media buying agency, is telling clients that Twitter is now a “high risk” media buy following a barrage of controversies, U-turns and confusion that capped off Elon Musk’s second week as the owner of the social network, Digiday reported.

The advice was shared in a document, seen by Digiday, that warns marketers of the risks of advertising on the volatile social network. It reads: “Based on the news yesterday [Nov. 10] of additional senior management resignations from key posts, high profile examples of blue check abuse on corporate accounts, and the potential inability for Twitter to comply with their federal consent decree, GroupM’s Twitter Risk Assessment is increased to a High-Risk rating for all tactics.”

According to Digiday, here is what Twitter must do to resolve several issues:

  • Return to baseline NSFW levels
  • Re-population of IT security, privacy, trust & safety senior staff
  • Establishment of internal checks & balances
  • Full transparency on future development plans of community guidelines / content moderation / anything affecting user security or brand safety
  • Demonstrated commitment to effective content moderation, enforcing current Twitter Rules, e.g., account impersonation, violative content removal timing, intolerance of hate speech & misinformation, etc.

Digiday reported: It’s a reminder of where the real power lies in this standoff between Twitter and advertisers. Hint: advertising on Twitter has always been nice to have, not a must for the advertisers that spend on it. That may be one of the few things that hasn’t changed since Musk took over.

In addition, Digiday reported that those who pulled ad dollars don’t look like they’re going to be coming back this side of 2023. Then again, they never really were. Advertisers had essentially cut short their spending for this year on Twitter. Nothing Musk has done so far has been able to convince them otherwise.

The Verge reported that GroupM works with companies like Google, L’Oreal, Bayer, Nestle, Unilever, Coke, and Mars. If you’ve ever seen a that graphic about how a few brands make pretty much everything you buy at the grocery store, you’ll notice a lot of Venn diagram overlap with GroupM’s list of clients.

According to The Verge, GroupM is the third advertising juggernaut telling massive corporations that they might want to take their money elsewhere, after IPG and Omnicom Media Group both recommended pausing advertisements on the platform.

The Verge also reported: While Musk has said that he wants to wean Twitter off its reliance on advertising for revenue, he’s not there yet. For one, a lot of people can’t even buy the company’s premium Blue subscription service right now, because the company temporarily suspended that program. Musk has said that Twitter is burning through around $4 million a day, and he is saddled with hefty interest payments on the debt he used to purchase it in the first place.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that Twitter will continue to be a functional website, especially considering that it appears companies have been advised to avoid paying to put their ads on Twitter. Without revenue, either from ads or purchases of Twitter’s products, I don’t think that Twitter has much of a chance of surviving.

Twitter Cuts Contract Workers Without Warning

Twitter logoA large number of Twitter’s contract workers discovered they were suddenly terminated this weekend after they lost access to Slack and other work systems, according to internal communications shared with CNBC by full-time Twitter employees.

CNBC reported that 4,400 of its 5,500 contract workers were cut, according to Platformer, which first reported the cuts. CNBC has not confirmed the total number.

Some of Twitter’s contract workers were based overseas in India, among other locations. Full-time employees, who asked to remain un-named since they were not authorized to speak on behalf of Twitter, said that they had no internal notice before contractors they were collaborating with were let go.

Twitter has dismissed all of its internal communications team, according to these employees. They also cracked bitter jokes that media outlets covering the company are now filling the role of internal communications.

Mashable reported that Casey Newton, a tech reporter who writes the Substack, Platformer, reported that the contractors were not warned but rather stripped of access to Slack and email.

The “cuts [were] expected to have significant impact to content moderation and the core infrastructure services that keep the site up and running,” Newton wrote on Twitter. Axios later confirmed that Twitter had laid off a large number of contractors including folks in content moderation.

Engadget reported that the move to cutting the contractors is expected to significantly impact Twitter’s ability to moderate content and keep its platform up and running.

According to Engadget, Twitter also appears to have provided no notice to those who lost their job this weekend. Many found out when they weren’t working for the company anymore after they abruptly lost access to Twitter’s internal systems. “One of my contractors just got deactivated without notice in the middle of making critical changes to our child safety workflows,” one manager posted in the Slack (according to Newton).

Engadget also reported that some workers are now worried they may not get paid for their last two weeks of work. Following Twitter’s November 4th layoffs, many contractors ended up on teams with no full-time staff, leaving no one to sign off on their time sheets.

Personally, I think it’s awful to abruptly fire a bunch of people without notice, especially if those people are the ones who know how to keep Twitter functional. I also find it horrifying to contemplate that at least one of the people who was working on child safety workflows was cut before completing them. We are likely living through the last days of Twitter being a functional website.

Twitter Wants Some Laid Off Employees To Come Back

Mere days after cutting its workforce in half, Twitter is asking some employees to return, according to Bloomberg, Engadget reported.

Citing two sources within the company, the outlet reports management at Twitter has come to the realization it either let some workers off by accident or without realizing that their experience was essential to building the features Elon Musk wants to bring to the platform.

According to Engadget, a decision to bring back some employees would cap off a chaotic weekend at Twitter. The company began Friday by laying off approximately 3,800 employees, a move that gutted teams across the company, including those responsible for developing new accessibility features. On Saturday, the company briefly began rolling out its new paid verification system. One day later, the company reportedly made the decision to delay the release of the feature until after the US midterm elections.

The New York Times reported that Twitter is delaying the rollout of verification check marks to subscribers of its new $7.99 a month subscription service until after Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to an internal post viewed by The New York Times and two people with knowledge of the decision.

Elon Musk’s quest to lay off about half of Twitter’s workforce may not be going entirely to plan, Business Insider reported. The company has already asked some to return, according to posts on the Blind app and Insider sources, including one who also shared a screenshot of confirmation from a Twitter employee.

Insider also surveyed the Blind app, a professional community where verified employees have anonymous conversation, and found posts indicating Twitter employees who the company had laid off had been asked to come back. According to Insider, one user wrote: “It’s true, I was asked to come back Saturday morning,” while another simply said: “Can confirm”.

More than one news site pointed toward the Twitter account of Casey Newton, (who writes for Platformer). He wrote the following thread:

Multiple sources and Twitter Blind chats now saying that the company has begun to reach out to some people it laid off yesterday asking them to come back. Whoops!

From Twitter Slack: “sorry to @- everybody on the weekend but I wanted to pass along that we have the opportunity to ask folks that were left off if they will come back. I need to put together names and rationales by 4PM PST Sunday.

“I’ll do some research but if any of you who have been in contact with folks who might come back and who we think will help us, please nominate before 4”

“I think we might use some android and iOS help.”

Firing thousands of workers, who were notified via email and or by discovering they had been locked out of Slack and email accounts, was an absolutely terrible way to treat the workers. I find it very hard to believe that the majority of the laid-off workers will want to give Twitter a second chance, especially since things have become extremely chaotic since Elon Musk took over.

Elon Musk Will Permanently Ban Accounts For Impersonation

Elon Musk’s Twitter has a new rule for everyone with an account on Twitter to follow, as he announced from his own account: “any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended”, The Verge reported. In a follow up tweet, Musk said “Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning.”

According to The Verge, ever since Musk promised his Twitter would bring “power to the people” by offering verification to anyone willing to pay $8 for a subscription, some owners of already verified accounts have been renaming themselves Elon Musk, highlighting the issue that a verification system that doesn’t actually check who controls an account.

The Verge also reported that despite Elon Musk’s earlier statement that no major content decisions would come down until Twitter put together a content moderation council to vote on them, the service’s new owner has made this ruling, apparently, all by himself. The Twitter Terms of Service don’t reflect any new rule changes, and Twitter has not responded to an inquiry from The Verge about how its policies have changed.

The Associated Press reported that the $8 verified accounts are Musk’s way of democratizing the service, he claims. On Saturday, a Twitter update for iOS devices listed on Apple’s app store said users who “sign up now” for the new “Twitter Blue with verification” can get the blue check next to their names “just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.”

The Hill reported that Musk has angered many users with changes to Twitter’s verification system, asking people to pay $8 a month for a subscription that includes the blue check mark.

According to The Hill, Elon Musk said the rules against impersonations would be “clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue,” adding that users would also temporarily lose verification if they change their profile name.

Personally, I find that to be a really bad decision. There are a lot of people who like to change their Twitter name to something that fits with Halloween or Christmas. If any of them have paid for the blue check mark, will they lose it by temporarily choosing a festive name? I get the feeling that Elon Musk doesn’t quite understand how people use Twitter.

The Hill also reported that the blue check mark previously was only awarded to authentic and verified accounts, including celebrities, politicians, public agencies, private businesses, and journalists, among others who could prove they had a notable online presence. But, the Hill stated, the new method of paying for a verification mark has raised concerns that it will make it harder to identify trusted sources on the platform.

What Twitter’s Product Roadmap Might Look Like

Platformer provided insight on the changes that could be planned for Twitter, in regards to some of Twitter’s products. Some have already been revealed, while others might be potential changes that don’t see the light of day.

Some of the product road map is, by this point, well known: Musk plans to begin charging for verification through Twitter Blue, likely at $8 a month; he is exploring the revival of the short-form video product Vine; he is considering allowing creators to put video posts behind a paywall, OnlyFans-style. The New York Times also reported that Twitter is looking into letting users pay to send direct messages to high-profile users.

According to Platformer:

The product formerly known as Super Follows, which lets creators put some of their tweets behind a paywall, is set to relaunch as “subscriptions” on November 11.

Twitter’s Notes product, which allowed long-form writing on the platform, has been put on an indefinite “pause.” Revue, the newsletter platform that Twitter acquired in early 2021, is scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year.

According to Platformer, a recently revealed plan to build a crypto wallet for Twitter appears to be on pause as well.

Gizmodo reported that both the Notes feature and the recently revealed crypto wallet that are paused were features that were long-requested by the blogging types and crypto bros, respectively. Gizmodo says it could not independently verify Platformer’s report, and Twitter did not respond for comment.

That said, Gizmodo wrote that Casey Newton, who writes for the Platformer blog, “has street cred on the tech beat and has access to internal Twitter slack, which leads credibility to his report.”

Coindesk reported that Dogecoin (DOGE) recently sank almost 10% in the aftermath of the news that Twitter’s crypto wallet plan has been paused. According to Coindesk, the meme coin’s price has consistently reacted to Musk’s activities and pronouncements. The billionaire entrepreneur and Tesla CEO has been a major advocate for the token.

Coindesk also reported that at the time of publication, Twitter had not responded to a CoinDesk request for comment about its plans for the crypto wallet.

What about Vine? Protocol reported: There’s a collective tech nostalgia of what could’ve been, would’ve been, should’ve been when it comes to Vine. It had all the early hallmarks of TikTok: the vitality, the influencers, the marketing. But three years after a 2013 launch which saw it at the top of the app charts, Twitter shut Vine down.

According to Niko Bonatsos, an investor at General Catalyst, nostalgia alone will certainly drive some people to return to Vine if Twitter reboots it. But sentimentality for an app won’t mean it becomes useful overnight. He stated that most of Vine’s original fans from nearly 10 years ago are no longer in their teenage or college years, with loads of free time to spend on social media, but are now working adults, perhaps with family.

In my opinion, there is no way to know, for certain, what Twitter will do. It has definitely gotten more chaotic than typical after Elon Musk took over. I think the smart thing would be to assume that Twitter won’t actually implement any of those features, including the ones that people appear to really want.

Elon Musk Says Twitter’s Revenue Dropped Due To Activist Groups

Twitter Inc. has suffered “a massive drop in revenue” because of advertisers cutting back on using the social-media platform, new owner Elon Musk said Friday, as the company started sweeping layoffs just over a week after the billionaire took it over, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Musk, in a tweet Friday, blamed the cutback on advertising on “activist groups pressuring advertisers.” He said that the company hadn’t changed content moderation and had tried to address activists’ concerns. “Extremely messed up!” he said, casting the pullback as an assault on free speech.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Mr. Musk’s remarks came after several big-name advertisers, including food company General Mills Inc., Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc., and Pfizer Inc. and others have temporarily paused their Twitter advertising in the wake of the takeover of the company by Mr. Musk. German car-making giant Volkswagen AG said it had recommended to its various brands they pause advertising on Twitter to assess any revisions the company makes to its brand safety guidelines.

In addition, the social-media industry is struggling with weaker revenue from digital advertisers. Such advertising has slowed due to several factors, including rising inflation, the war in Ukraine, and Apple privacy changes that have made it harder to track the performance of ads.

The Guardian reported that other advertisers, including Audi and General Motors have paused their advertisement spending on Twitter, concerned about the direction it will take under Musk.

Business Insider reported that Interpublic Group (IPG) wrote in an email to The Wall Street Journal that it has advised its clients to pause spending on Twitter advertising during the company’s “chaotic” interim. Interpublic Group wrote in an email on Monday that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal: “The current situation is unpredictable and chaotic, and bad actors and unsafe behaviors can thrive in such an environment. At this moment, we cannot confidently state that Twitter is a safe place for brands.”

While I have seen some people on Twitter suggesting that users should start pushing brands to drop their advertising, I doubt that the brands would do so just because some random person tweeted that they should. Instead, it sounds like the companies who advertise on Twitter believe that Twitter is currently too chaotic right now for them to place (and pay for) advertisements.

This does not surprise me, considering the massive amount of layoffs and the lawsuit against Twitter that was filed by people who suddenly found themselves out of a job.

Twitter Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Layoffs

Twitter is being sued for not giving employees advanced written notice of a mass layoff, in violation of worker protection laws including the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act as well as the California WARN Act, both of which require 60 days of advance notice, TechCrunch reported.

Bloomberg first reported the news of the lawsuit, filed on November 3, 2022, in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

According to TechCrunch, the complaint alleges that Twitter began its layoffs on November 1, when it terminated the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Emmanuel Cornet, without providing the proper written notice in violation of U.S. and California law. Additional plaintiffs, Justine De Caires, Jessica Pan, and Grae Kindel said they were terminated on November 3 by being locked out of their accounts.

Twitter is also enacting widespread layoffs across its workforce today, on November 4, 2022, it stated, adding that California’s Employment Development Department had not received a notice related to the event.

In a new complaint against Twitter, the plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Twitter has violated the federal and California WARN Acts and certify the case as a class action suit. According to TechCrunch, it’s also asking the court to stop Twitter from having laid-off employees sign documents that would release their claims without informing them of the lawsuit. And it’s seeking a range of relief, including compensatory damages (including wages owed), as well as declaratory relief, pre- and post-judgement interest, plus other attorneys’ fees and costs.

TechCrunch also reported: Twitter hasn’t responded to requests for comment – but that could also be because its comms staff has been included in the layoffs.

The Verge reported that the lawsuit was filed in an attempt to “make sure employees are aware that they should not sign away their rights and that they have an avenue for pursuing their rights,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, the attorney who filed the complaint on Thursday night, told Bloomberg.

The Verge posted a copy of the lawsuit at the end of their article.

The Guardian reported that the lawsuit cited a similar situation with sackings at Musk’s other company, Tesla, where the company sought to obtain full release from its obligations under the Warn Act by offering severance of one or two weeks’ pay instead.

To me, this sounds like a pattern. I’m not surprised that the Tesla layoffs would be brought up in court, considering how similar they sound to the Twitter layoffs. It is unclear to me if Elon Musk was unaware of the labor laws or if he simply hoped he would get away with firing workers this way.