- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2022

Twitter owner Elon Musk said the social media company’s revenue is declining because of skittish advertisers, despite the tech platform making zero changes to its censorship policies.

Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Mr. Musk tweeted. “Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Mr. Musk’s complaint comes amid cutbacks in Twitter’s workforce anticipated on Friday and efforts by the SpaceX and Tesla CEO to monetize the social media platform’s content to grow its bottom line.

Twitter also may soon undergo the same national security scrutiny from the Biden administration that TikTok began facing from the Trump administration because of TikTok’s Chinese owners.

Federal officials are in the early stages of determining whether foreign investment in Twitter warrants a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) because of Mr. Musk’s takeover, according to reports. Proponents of the review, including Democratic lawmakers, point to previous investments from Saudi Arabia in Twitter as cause for concern.

CFIUS reviews commercial transactions for national security problems and is led by the Treasury Department alongside representatives from six other federal departments as well as White House officials.

As he contemplates changes to Twitter’s censorship rules, Mr. Musk said earlier this week he huddled with eight groups and other people about Twitter’s policies, including representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, the Asian American Foundation, Color of Change, Free Press, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the NAACP, and the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

The new Twitter CEO also announced that banned users would not return to the platform for “at least a few more weeks” as the company reviews its rules and Mr. Musk plans to form a content moderation council.

While Mr. Musk has taken time to address rules surrounding online speech, he has moved much faster to brainstorm ways to increase the company’s revenue.

Mr. Musk appears to be looking to shrink expenditures, and Twitter’s workforce has braced for expected cutbacks on Friday. Twitter cut workers’ access to internal systems on Friday and temporarily closed its offices as the personnel changes began, according to Reuters.

Employees had expected to learn their fate as of noon Pacific time on Friday, according to reports, following Mr. Musk’s previous ouster of company executives including CEO Parag Agrawal.

Downsizing at Twitter is consistent with changes underway at other prominent tech companies. The ride-hailing platform Lyft plans to cut 700 employees, and the payments platform Stripe intends to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs, according to reports published Thursday.  

To make money, Mr. Musk has floated charging users an $8 monthly fee to hold Twitter’s blue badge, which verifies a person’s authenticity and authority. He said paying users would also receive features including the ability to post longer video and audio on the platform.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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