By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
His announcement came after the multi-billionaire, who also runs the car and clean energy firm Tesla and space company SpaceX, fired Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and other executives last week.
Musk, 51, has already changed his personal Twitter information to “Chief Twit” in reference to these moves. His remarks came amid reports that the first round of cuts is under discussion that could affect 25 percent of the company’s staff.
Twitter had more than 7,000 employees at the end of 2021, a regulatory filing showed. One-quarter of the headcount would amount to about 2,000 employees.
The plans have added to tensions on the work floor, with managers ordering some employees to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, to meet Musk’s aggressive deadlines, according to internal communications.
Despite these controversies, commentators who were permanently banned or suspended from Twitter, including Christian conservatives, hope Musk’s takeover will lead to more freedom of expression.
Benny Johnson, host of a right-wing internet talk show and a contributor to Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit group, wrote on Twitter: “It’s time. Bring them all back.”
NAMES ON VIDEO
The tweet was accompanied by a video of a carousel of names such as former U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist behind the Infowars media outlet who was banned in 2018 for allegedly violating Twitter’s “abusive behavior” policy.
Other names included Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart publication editor who was banned in 2016 for inciting what Twitter viewed as a racist campaign against comedian Leslie Jones.
Critics say bringing back Trump and other controversial commentators could impact the upcoming U.S. midterm elections as Twitter has hundreds of millions of users.
And, just days after he bought Twitter, Musk came under media pressure on Monday.
Musk, who views himself as a “free speech absolutist,” was criticized for posting a “baseless tweet” to his 112 million followers about the husband of the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
The tweet suggested that the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, assaulted on Friday at the couple’s home, had been drunk and in a fight with a male prostitute.
Police found that Pelosi was attacked with a hammer inside his home by a man, David DePape, who had entered through the back door, seeking the speaker.
Musk’s tweet, later deleted, came in response to a tweet posted on Saturday by former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
She attacked Republicans for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories” that Clinton said encouraged the man who attacked Nancy Pelosi’s husband.
In reply to Clinton’s post, Musk wrote: “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye” and shared a link to an article in the Santa Monica Observer publication in which the allegation appeared.
Commentators quickly pointed out that the same Santa Monica Observer couldn’t be trusted. The publication claimed in 2016 that Clinton had died and that a body double was sent to debate the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Last week, Musk’s takeover of the social media company for $44 billion concluded months-long legal wrangling. But with reports about staff cuts and freedom of expression issues emerging, other battles are far from over.
Questions have also risen about Musk’s commercial plans, with several sources saying Musk is considering charging Twitter users $20 a month or $240 a year for a blue tick on their account.
Twitter’s Blue subscription service flags those who carry a blue tick as an “authentic source.”
Musk backed a Twitter poll Monday morning asking Twitter users how much they would pay a month for a blue tick: $5; $10; $15; or “wouldn’t pay.”
Most respondents to the poll said they wouldn’t pay at all, but a substantial minority indicated they would.
There are about 400,000 paid verified users on Twitter, suggesting that the annual income from higher rates would still be a fraction of the estimated $1 billion in interest payments due on Musk’s loans to buy Twitter.
But analysts said it may help Musk’s goal when offering to buy Twitter in April to “verify all the humans.” Further expanding its niche subscription service could provide significant revenue in the future, according to experts.
And, investors who didn’t sell their Twitter shares could walk away with a 40 percent or higher return, noteworthy at a time when the broader market is in trouble over fears of rising rates and recession, analysts say.
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