The Big Story
Twitter has gone from a social media giant to a complete circus seemingly overnight since the official Elon Musk takeover. After month long negotiations and bot back and forth, Elon Musk took the reins of Twitter at the end of October, making this Halloween extra frightening for all users of the platform. Since then, it has been quite the whirlwind so let’s debrief.
Only hours after the official acquisition announcement on October 27th, researchers reported a drastic rise in inappropriate behavior like the use of racial slurs, which were reported to increase by 500%. Previously banned accounts, ranging from right wing extremist groups to Kanye West, somehow also found their way back onto the platform. It has also been recently reported that Twitter is no longer enforcing its Covid misinformation policy, which worked to mitigate harmful and misleading information about the Covid virus and vaccines. Although Musk stated that there were not any changes to content regulation policies, this outcome certainly shapes Twitter to appear as the “free-for-all hellscape” that Musk assured everyone against. Since then, advertisers and brands have decided to pull out from working with Twitter, shattering Musk’s goal of becoming “the most respected advertising platform” for the time being.
In early November, Musk and Twitter introduced a new verification system, Twitter Blue subscriptions, allowing anyone with an extra $7.99 per month to obtain the platform’s coveted blue check as a way to test new revenue streams. This has caused some chaos on the platform as users started to create fake accounts pretending to be public figures and making outlandish tweets. Comically, Musk received the most backlash from this with users creating fake accounts to mock him, causing him to go on an account banning/restricting frenzy. As of now, Twitter Blue subscriptions have been paused until they can figure out how to stop these impersonations.
Throughout the month, Musk has also been making drastic employee cuts as part of an alleged cost-cutting measure. According to a series of tweets, Twitter has been experiencing massive revenue losses of up to $4M per day as a result of “activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.” As a result, Musk cut 50% of the Twitter staff in his first week on the job. In just this past week, more employees were reportedly fired after expressing negative opinions of Musk in a private Slack channel. Major long-time players at Twitter that were cut took to the platform to publicly express their love for pre-Musk Twitter and their concerns for the platform’s future. With limited staff, Musk posed an ultimatum to the rest of Twitter’s employees as to whether they wanted to stay with the company. Roughly 1,200 employees ending up resigning, further cutting down the Twitter staff which was at 7,500 employees at the start of Musk’s reign.
Security concerns about TikTok continue to escalate as FBI Director, Christopher Wray, testified before Congress over the bureau’s concerns of the Chinese-owned video app. Wray doubled down on concerns previously made by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr about the potential for China to access US user data and exploit the platform to influence operations. Although the FCC and the FBI do not have the authority to regulate TikTok, they have surfaced these risks to the Committee of Foreign Investments in the US (CFIUS) who have been handling ongoing negotiations with TikTok. To address this, TikTok has created the plan, “Project Texas,” to enhance data governance by walling off US user data and migrating it to US-based servers for this data to then be managed by Oracle. The CFIUS and TikTok continue to work together to strike up some type of deal, however an outright ban seems unlikely.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, Meta shared new resources to help small businesses succeed. Meta will be continuing their #BuyBlack Friday initiative for its third year, which includes free resources, education, and training for black-owned small businesses. They also announced their annual holiday gift guide called the “2022 Smalliday Showcase” planned to be released on November 21st. The holiday gift guide highlights a series of businesses from the Meta Business Leaders Network in which consumers can shop directly from to receive exclusive promotions and discounts. Lastly, Meta’s updated SMB Holiday Marketing Guide offers advice and tips on how to leverage the company’s properties to help drive sales throughout the holiday season.
Instagram recently opened up advertisement placements on the Instagram Explore Home via the Instagram Marketing API. With the Explore page serving as an easy way for users to find new content based on their interests, this opens up a whole new route for advertisers to reach users while they are in the discovery phase. According to Meta, advertisers will have transparency into how these ad placements perform.
One thing that advertisers and viewers can agree on is that no one gains anything from being overplayed an ad. In an effort to prevent this, Google started to globally rollout target frequency for YouTube. With this rollout, advertisers can optimize towards more precise reach and frequency while ensuring an appropriate experience for viewers. Google allows a frequency goal of up to 4x per week, then will work to optimize towards maximizing unique reach at the desired frequency goal.
Yahoo recently announced its 25% stake in Taboola, making it Taboola’s largest shareholder and earning it a board seat. Under this agreement, Taboola will be the sole operator of Yahoo’s native advertising for the next 30 years across all of Yahoo’s digital properties. For Yahoo, this helps to advance its contextual and native advertising offerings. Taboola gets the extra exposure of Yahoo’s 900 million monthly active users and a rich dataset that is not reliant on third-party cookies. If integrations go well, both companies expect to generate $1 billion in annual revenue from the partnership.