Musk Takes to Twitter Spaces to Share Plans for the Platform

Elon Musk is seeking a payments system for Twitter as he pursues his plan to make it a “super app” along the lines of China’s WeChat. Musk outlined his vision in a live presentation on Twitter Spaces to more than 100,000 users and advertisers, including reps from Adidas, Kate Spade, Nissan and Walgreens. Musk has been brainstorming with confidants over ways to improve Twitter and make it profitable. Last week, Twitter filed registration paperwork with the Treasury Department for approval to add payments. Meanwhile, top privacy and security executives are leaving the company after Musk told employees “bankruptcy isn’t out of the question.”

During the Wednesday morning presentation, Musk said “he envisioned users connecting their online bank accounts to the social media service, with the company moving later into ‘debit cards, checks and whatnot,’” reports The New York Times. Musk was one of the co-founders of PayPal, and it’s not surprising that he aspires to reinvent Twitter along the lines of WeChat, which more than a billion people use to hail rides, order food, find news and entertain themselves.

The meeting was designed to create a comfort level for Twitter advertisers, several of whom “paused spending” in the wake of Musk’s purchase of the company, as they feared his suggestions of tamping down content moderation in order to create an atmosphere of “free speech” would turn the platform into a free for all.

As a result, “he has swung from conciliatory meetings with Madison Avenue executives to threats to put them through a ‘thermonuclear name & shame,’” NYT wrote of his contentious relationship with sponsors.

Musk stressed Twitter’s commitment to advertisers “and their concerns about problematic content, which proliferated on the platform during the midterm elections on Tuesday,” NYT said, adding that “his presentation ranged far beyond advertising, offering more details about his plans.”

“The rate of evolution of Twitter will be an immense step change compared to what it has been in the past. You know, if nothing else, I am a technologist and I can make technology go fast. And that’s what you’ll see happen at Twitter,” NYT quoted Musk saying.

Video is an area in which Twitter plans to invest heavily, Musk said, suggesting that users with premium Twitter Blue subscriptions “will initially be able to post 10-minute clips, then 42-minute videos and then eventually ones that are several hours long,” NYT writes. He said he plans to help content creators monetize their contributions and enable purchase of products “effortlessly” with one click.

Musk also discussed his plans to charge $8 per month for account verification, denoted by a blue check mark, likening content from unverified accounts to emails that end up in a spam folder, accessible, but low priority. “A separate verification mark, a gray badge that was rolled out to major media, corporate and government organizations, appeared briefly and then disappeared on Wednesday” after Musk tweeted that he “killed it,” according to NYT.

“To his critics, and to companies that have paused advertising on Twitter, Musk asked to be given a chance,” said CNBC.

Musk also addressed employees, suggesting a dire economic future and the possibility of bankruptcy, while execs announced they were leaving Twitter. “The day began with the resignation of three top security officials — chief information security officer Lea Kissner, chief privacy officer Damien Kieran and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty — prompting warnings from the Federal Trade Commission,” reports The Guardian.

“Following those departures, Roth and Twitter’s head of client solutions, Robin Wheeler, also left the company.”

‘Economic Picture Ahead Is Dire,’ Elon Musk Tells Twitter Employees, The New York Times, 11/10/22
FTC Warns ‘No CEO or Company Is Above the Law’ if Twitter Shirks Privacy Order, TechCrunch, 11/10/22
Mark Cuban Slams Elon Musk: Letting Anyone Get Verified ‘Killed the Most Valuable Part of Twitter’, Variety, 11/10/22

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