Elon Musk’s decision to support his right wing fans over his own employees has led to several resignations at Twitter. Credit: Muhammed Selim Korkutata / Anadolu Agency
Over the past 24 hours, numerous Twitter employees, including its head of trust and safety, have resigned from the company. These resignations all came shortly after owner Elon Musk blamed his employees for bringing Twitter’s own advertiser hate speech policies to bear on a prominent right-wing media company.
The chaos over at Twitter began on Thursday morning when Jeremy Boreing of The Daily Wire published a tweet thread(opens in a new tab) about a potential deal with Musk’s company allegedly gone awry. The Daily Wire is a conservative media outlet started by Boreing and Ben Shapiro. The company employs a number of prominent right-wing influencers and pundits, such as Candace Owens, Jordan Peterson, and Matt Walsh.
Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) According to Boreing, The Daily Wire had been in talks with Twitter to set up a paid advertiser campaign to promote a documentary by Walsh called What is a Woman?. The conservative outlet planned to air the entire film in a tweet. The film, which has been out for a year, has been criticized(opens in a new tab) by gender identity and transgender health experts, as well as trans activists(opens in a new tab) as being transphobic or anti-trans.
However, as Boreing explains, after Twitter reviewed the film, the company backed out of any sort of sponsorship deal. Twitter also warned The Daily Wire that while it could still post the video on its own, the film would be flagged as “hateful conduct” under Twitter’s policies. As such, under Musk’s own “freedom of speech, not freedom of reach” rules, Twitter would limit the visibility of the video on its platform.
Right-wing users, who view Musk as an ally due to his consistent sharing of far right content on Twitter, were outraged over what Boreing shared and quickly criticized Musk on the platform. Hours after the initial tweet thread from The Daily Wire, Twitter’s owner responded.
Musk immediately threw his employees under the bus.
“This was a mistake by many people at Twitter,” Musk tweeted(opens in a new tab).
“It is definitely allowed,” Musk continued, referring to The Daily Wire’s film.
Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) Regardless of Musk’s claims on Thursday, clips of the film posted by Walsh were labeled “Visibility limited: This tweet may violate Twitter’s rules against Hateful Conduct.” This diminished the reach these tweets could get.
Musk continued(opens in a new tab) to assure his right wing user base that Twitter was working on the issue and were rolling out an update to remove the labels while still protecting advertisers(opens in a new tab) who would not want their content shown on The Daily Wire’s video.
A “limited visibility” label obscured The Daily Wire film on the outlet’s profile feed. Credit: Mashable screenshot
And then at 8pm ET on Thursday, The Daily Wire posted the full film as they originally intended, but without Twitter’s sponsorship deal. And Twitter completely obscured the film with its “visibility limited” label and blocked users from retweeting or replying to the tweet.
Users were blocked from retweeting The Daily Wire’s tweet due to the limited visibility label. Credit: Mashable screenshot
Musk still was assuring users into the early morning hours on Friday that he was working on a fix. Musk even shared that the issue would likely help The Daily Wire receive more attention for their film, causing some to speculate that this “controversy” was manufactured.
“The Streisand Effect on this will set an all-time record!” Musk tweeted(opens in a new tab).
“The controversy will drive viewership,” he said(opens in a new tab) in another post.
Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) While this was happening on the platform, X Corp., Twitter’s parent company was dealing with its own issues. Shortly before The Daily Wire posted the film on Twitter, Fortune reported(opens in a new tab) that Twitter deactivated the Slack messaging account for its head of trust and safety Ella Irwin. Soon, Reuters confirmed(opens in a new tab) that Irwin had resigned from the company. In her role, Irwin was responsible for shaping and enforcing Twitter’s rules and policies.
Irwin wasn’t the only Twitter employee to resign either. Twitter brand safety partnerships program director Maie Aiyed also announced(opens in a new tab) her departure from Twitter on Thursday. By Friday, another Twitter executive, head of brand safety and ad quality A.J. Brown also decided to leave(opens in a new tab) the company.
By Friday morning, the limited reach and “visibility” label on The Daily Wire’s tweet were removed. To show his support(opens in a new tab) for The Daily Wire, Musk shared the video himself, commenting “Every parent should watch this.”
Just before Musk’s promotion of the film, The Daily Wire’s tweet had around 2 million views or impressions on the tweet. The video itself had just over half as many views with 1.1 million. After Musk shared @realDailyWire’s tweet, its reach was greatly boosted.
At publishing time, the tweet containing the video has more than 50 million views. However, the video itself has roughly five times fewer with just over 10 million views. Mashable should also note that Twitter’s view metric counts any play time, including autoplay, as a view, as long as two seconds of the video are played.
While right wing Twitter users and The Daily Wire are celebrating Musk’s support of the film now, there are still many unanswered questions. In a Twitter Space(opens in a new tab) discussion on Thursday night, Daily Wire CEO Boreing further explained details of what went on when the company was working with Twitter. Along with the news that the sponsorship “package” was worth “mid-six figures,” Boreing also shared an interesting note about Musk. According to Boreing, when Twitter canceled the partnership and said it would limit visibility on the video due to the content of the film, the company told him that Musk was “in the room himself” when the decision was made.
Ever since Musk hired former NBCUniversal ad executive Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s incoming CEO, it’s been clear that he’s trying to once again make a play for advertisers as ad sales plummet and its subscription-based revenue models struggle. Clearly, based on Musk’s own public statements, decisions were made at the company out of concern for advertisers.
However, when push came to shove, it appears Twitter’s owner and CEO Musk passed the blame on to his own employees and then kowtowed to the demand of his right-wing fanbase when they complained about company decisions.