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1 year ago Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion

Since Musk's takeover, groups that track online misinformation say he has eroded trust. He's also fired more than 6,500 staffers.
1 year ago Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion
Posted at 3:42 PM, Oct 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-27 17:43:59-04

Just before he bought what was then known as Twitter — now called "X" —billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk explained at a TED Talk why he wanted to own the popular digital town square.

"Having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization," said Musk. 

But since Musk's takeover of the platform, groups that track online misinformation say Musk has eroded that trust. He's fired more than 6,500 staffers including content moderators, eliminated verified check marks that helped identify legitimate sources of news and information and reinstated accounts for banned users, including former President Donald Trump.

Musk has also run afoul of the European Union, accused of ignoring laws that crack down on disinformation. One official says his platform is the worst for spreading lies.

"So my message for Twitter is you have to comply with the hard law and we will be watching what you are doing," said Vera Jourova, the European Commission vice president.

SEE MORE: Musk's X testing $1 registration fee for new users in these countries

Toxic speech and racial slurs flourish on X according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which found the company fails 99% of the time to crack down on violators who paid to get a blue "verified" check mark.

As war has unfolded between Israel and Hamas, NewsGuard, which tracks misinformation online, found 74% of fake news posts came from those blue check accounts. 

"These are clear-cut false and misleading narratives. These are not simple misleading claims. These are pretty egregiously false," said Jack Brewster, the enterprise editor at Newsguard. 

Scripps News tried reaching out to X, but got no response. In the past, the company has said it's working "to foster transparency and build trust with our users, customers, and the general public."

Republicans trust X far more than Democrats. Still, revenue has spiraled as advertisers have pulled away. Musk himself estimates X is worth less than what he paid for it.

"They seem to have emboldened mis-informers and bad actors, and that has created a world in which misinformation can thrive," said Brewster.

The future of X and the cost of Musk's ownership may be getting harder to calculate.


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