As Elon Musk Asks If He Should Step Down As Twitter CEO, A Look Back At Key Policy Shifts Under Him

An endless saga comprising mass layoffs and mass resignations, multiple lawsuits, suspension and restoration of accounts, release of ‘twitter files,’ blue ticks, and so on, has mired Elon Musk's roughly two-month long stint as Twitter CEO.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk

The ‘controversial billionaire,’ Twitter’s CEO, Elon Musk, has once again featured in headlines after he started a new poll on his twitter handle on Sunday, asking if he should step down as the head of the social media giant. Ever since he closed the USD 44 billion deal to acquire Twitter on October 27, Musk has time and again been at the center of controversies with regards to the policy changes on the microblogging platform. 

An endless saga comprising mass layoffs and mass resignations, multiple lawsuits, suspension and restoration of accounts, release of ‘twitter files,’ blue ticks, and so on, has mired the Tesla and SpaceX owner’s roughly two-month long stint as Twitter CEO. Here are some key policy shifts and controversies during Musk’s tenure so far:

Suspension on cross-posting content across platforms

A day before Musk started mulling over stepping down as the CEO, Twitter had on December 18 announced a major policy shift, stating that it would suspend accounts indulging in cross-posting content i.e those being used to promote other accounts on other specific social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon.  

“We will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter. Specifically, we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post," a tweet by Twitter Support read. 

This decision sparked immediate reactions among Twitterati. 

Journalists’ accounts blocked

On December 15, Elon Musk-led Twitter had suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists from prominent news organizations including CNN, NY Times, NBC news etc. with the site showing "account suspended" notices for them. Musk accused the mediapersons of doxxing and said that the suspensions stemmed from the platform's new rules banning private jet trackers, which were brought in a day earlier. 

Reacting to backlash over the blocking of accounts, Musk said, “Criticising me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not. You doxx, you get suspended. End of story. That's it.” 

A day later, however, following intense criticism, the accounts were restored and Musk tweeted “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won't happen again.” 

Legal threats against employees who leak confidential information

On December 10, Musk once again hit the headlines after he allegedly issued another ultimatum to Twitter employees wherein he threatened legal action against anyone who discloses confidential information to the press.

In an official email, Musk wrote to employees, "As evidenced by the many detailed leaks of confidential Twitter information, a few people at our company continue to act in a manner contrary to the company's interests and in violation of their Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)."

Taking a strict stance against leaks, Musk noted that while "occasional slip-ups" could be pardoned, but "sending detailed info to the media ... will receive the response it deserves,” threatening to seek damages from those who violate the NDA. Musk also demanded that the employees sign a pledge, testifying that they have understood the directives and gave them until 5pm to respond. 

Lawsuit alleging discriminatory layoffs

Musk's threatening email came just three days after two former employees of Twitter, Carolina Bernal Strifling and Willow Wren Turkal, who were affected by the company's "mass layoff" filed a discrimination lawsuit against the world's richest man, claiming that the firing spree had disproportionately impacted the female employees

The lawsuit filed in a San Francisco federal court on December 8 alleged that 57% of female employees were laid off, compared to less than half of men, despite Twitter employing more men overall before the layoffs.

Risk of assassination

On December 3, during an audio chat on Twitter Spaces, Musk said that there is "definitely some risk" of an assassination attempt against him. "Frankly the risk of something bad happening to me, or even literally being shot, is quite significant," he had said, adding, "It's not that hard to kill somebody if you wanted to, so hopefully they don't, and fate smiles upon the situation with me and it does not happen ... There's definitely some risk there.”

His remarks came a day after American journalist Matt Taibbi shared the controversial 'Twitter Files' that revealed internal communications among Twitter chiefs, based on which the accounts and tweets of some users were suspended and censored for commenting on the New York Post's Hunter Biden laptop story. Musk had also announced a full disclosure of “what really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression” on the microblogging site.

Twitter files

On December 3, Taibbi wrote, “What you’re about to read is the first installment in a series, based upon thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter. The “Twitter Files” tell an incredible story from inside one of the world’s largest and most influential social media platforms. It is a Frankensteinian tale of a human-built mechanism grown out of the control of its designer.”


The files were a series of emails in the form of screenshots that show internal discussions done to censor the Hunter Biden story on the platform. The story, as reported by the New York Post, had claims about Hunter Biden’s business activities in Ukraine. However, back then, since it was believed that the US Presidential elections time is rather sensitive, Twitter reportedly censored the story in different ways. As per the thread on Twitter Files, a user’s account was also pulled up for sharing the story, about which some internal email discussions took place at the social media giant.

Twitter 2.0: Encryption proposals


In a bid to rescue Twitter’s collapsing revenues, Musk on November 21 gave a presentation titled “Twitter 2.0” and said that the company would encrypt DMs and work to add encrypted video and voice calling between accounts, touting it as a means to ensure greater data privacy on the platform. 

“We want to enable users to be able to communicate without being concerned about their privacy, [or] without being concerned about a data breach at Twitter causing all of their DMs to hit the web, or think that maybe someone at Twitter could be spying on their DMs,” Musk said.


Paid blue tick

Earlier, Musk had also proposed to monetise the ‘blue tick verified’ profiles on the social media platform. Earlier, this mark of identification was mostly reserved for verified accounts of politicians, journalists, famous personalities, government handles and so on. However, with the changes introduced by Elon Musk, anyone will now be able to have access to Twitter Blue with some additional features. 

Essentially, a service which was earlier available free of cost to select individuals and organizations, would now have been paid at a cost of $8 per month. As per Musk, the main idea behind this move was to make the blue tick more accessible and to generate revenue as the social media company has been making losses.


This service was to come into effect from November 29 but this plan was later put on hold citing risks of fake accounts and impersonation. On November 22, Musk had tweeted, “Holding off relaunch of Blue Verified until there is high confidence of stopping impersonation. Will probably use different color checks for organizations than individuals.” 

Restoring Donald Trump’s account

"The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,' Musk tweeted after he reinstated former United States President Donald Trump’s twitter account on November 20, revoking a 22-month long suspension

Trump was permanently suspended from the social media site in January 2021, just days after the attempted insurrection by pro-Trump supporters at the US Capitol.


'Go hardcore or leave' policy: Mass exodus

After the Twitter CEO gave an ultimatum to employees that they “will need to be extremely hardcore" to build “a breakthrough Twitter 2.0" and that long hours at high intensity will be needed for success, the social media company stared at a mass exodus as hundreds of employees resigned on a single day

In his email, Musk had asked workers to click yes on a link provided in the email if they want to be part of the “new Twitter." He said that employees had until 5 pm Eastern on Thursday to reply to the link. Employees who don't reply by that time will receive three months of severance, according to the email.


“Whatever decision you make, thank you for your efforts to make Twitter successful," Musk wrote.

Mass layoffs amid revenue shortfalls

Twitter fired almost half of its worldwide workforce within days of its takeover by the tech billionaire. Musk had argued that lay-offs are essential to keep Twitter financially viable. Lay-offs were reported in several teams, such as human rights, machine learning, public relations, algorithmic ethics, trust and safety, etc. 

In the weeks following the mass layoffs, Twitter was dragged to court multiple times with lawsuits over service conditions and termination of employment contracts. One such complaint even alleged that Elon Musk has illegally converted office space into bedrooms so that workers can sleep on site.


Musk assumes charge as ‘Temporary CEO’ of Twitter

As his first order of business, Musk fired the top brass of Twitter including its Indian-origin CEO Parag Agrawal and legal head Vijaya Gadde, besides dissolving the board of directors to take charge as Twitter's temporary CEO.

In the past, he had accused the CEO of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the social media platform. 

This came four days after the world’s richest man closed a $44 billion deal to acquire the social media platform. At the time of acquisition, the 51-year-old has promised to transform Twitter by loosening the service’s content moderation rules, making its algorithm more transparent and nurturing subscription businesses, as well as laying off employees.

With Musk's latest poll asking whether he should step down as Twitter CEO set to conclude at 5pm IST today, so far, 57.6% voters have clicked "Yes." It remains to be seen whether Musk's saga as Twitter Chief reaches its conclusive end beyond this point.