The sorcerer’s apprentice is disillusioned. By selling Twitter certification badges, Elon Musk unwittingly triggered a spiral of creation of fake “certified” accounts and perhaps permanently damaged the business model of the microblogging site, which he bought on October 28. . For several days, smart guys have had fun creating fake profiles of celebrities, companies or politicians, which they have certified by buying the badge, offered for sale 8 euros per month. This is how we saw on the network appear a fake account of American basketball player Lebron James asking for his transfer from the Los Angeles Lakers or two accounts allegedly hosted by George W. Bush and Tony Blair discussing their regrets of no longer being able to “killing Iraqis”. And we no longer count the brands trappedfrom Lockheed Martin to Nestlé or Pepsi, which in a tweet celebrates its competitor Coca-Cola, or even… Tesla, the parent company of Elon Musk.
Towards a leak of advertisers?
Faced with chaos, the billionaire tried to regain control on Monday by announcing that “any Twitter account engaging in identity theft without clearly specifying that it is a parody would be permanently banned”. But the warning didn’t seem to have any effect. And the impersonations continued throughout the week, with varying degrees of success. For Musk, who wanted to champion freedom of expression, and claimed less moderation of content on the platform, the disappointment is significant. Here he is forced to do the police. Everything he hates. Especially since by weakening the certification model, the entrepreneur may have permanently weakened the profitability of his platform. Twitter’s loss of credibility and uncertainty about its future have led to an investment freeze. Several advertisers have already suspended their spending on the very influential social network, whose economic model depends 90% on advertising. And Insider Intelligence has lowered its forecast for Twitter’s advertising revenue by 39% in 2023 and 2024.
In the crosshairs of the competition agency
Twitter’s risk of bankruptcy has never seemed so heightened as Musk admitted Thursday during a meeting with employees that he did not know how “short of revenue” the company would be next year. “It is possible that we are in a cash flow deficit of several billions,” he said. In an internal letter the day before, he had written to them that the path was going to be “laborious”, and that they now had to “be in person in the office at least 40 hours a week”. And, bad news never comes alone, the US Competition Agency (FTC) issued a rare warning against the platform on Thursday: “We are following recent developments at Twitter with great concern. No CEO or company is above the law,” an FTC spokesperson said, noting that the platform could face hefty fines if it failed to comply with data security and privacy rules. For Musk, the takeover of Twitter looks more like a rocky road than ever.
(Challenges with AFP)