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Musk Cuts Thousands of Contract Staff, Hints at Additional Verification Elements



There Will be Ways to Generate More Revenue from Twitter, But $8 Verification Isn’t It

Seriously, every day Elon is throwing out new ideas for what’s coming next at Twitter, some of which probably will eventuate, and others that’ll get lost in the shuffle. And there’s certainly a lot of shuffling going on at Twitter HQ.

Here’s the Elon Musk/Twitter update for today:

More Job Cuts

Over the weekend, Musk’s transition team reportedly cut 4,400 of the company’s 5,500 contract staff.

Twitter users local contractors for various tasks, including content moderation and site management, but these are not employees, as such, so they were not included in the original staff cull, which saw Musk cut half of Twitter’s employees last week (before asking some of them to come back).

According to reports, many of these contractors were not told that their contracts would be canceled, they found out after finding that their access to Twitter’s systems had been shut off.

The impacts that these latest cuts will have isn’t clear, but it seems as though Twitter’s moderation, and even day-to-day upkeep, could start to deteriorate as a result.

Musk has been up-front about the need to cut costs, with Twitter, apparently, losing $4 million a day when he initially took over at the app. Job cuts will certainly address this, at least in part, but you would have to also expect that losing so many staff and contractors (now up to around 8k roles in total) will have to have some impact on the service.

If things start falling apart in the next few weeks, this could be why.

At the same time, Musk is now also engaging in public back-and-forth with former Twitter staff, who have questioned his claims about mismanagement at the company.

In summary, staff relations at Twitter are seemingly not going great at the moment.

Delayed Verification

As has been well documented, Elon’s $8 checkmark program has, this far, been pretty messy, leading to a range of impersonations, misrepresentations, and potentially defamation, amid confusion over the new blue ticks, and what they actually mean.

The ensuing chaos has even leading to major stock impacts for some big-name companies.

As a result, Twitter’s now taken a step back, with the new program removed from live deployment late last week. Musk has admitted that it ‘needs some tweaks’, but he does expect the $8 checkmarks to be made available again by the end of this week.

Though likely with one significant update:

So the new process, which is seemingly designed to address the aforementioned issues with impersonation, will enable Twitter to provide an official linkage between, say, a media organization and their actual staff in the app, with maybe a new variation of the ‘official’ gray tick, that will be displayed in addition to the blue checkmark.

How exactly that will work isn’t clear, but the idea is that this will provide more granularity to verification – so the blue checkmark is not viewed as a signal of authority, as such, but as a marker of verified identity in association with a brand.

In other words, imposters won’t so easily be able to dupe people with parody accounts, because they won’t have this extra seal of approval – whatever it may be – which would confirm that this is a representative of said organization.

Which makes some sense, but probably just sticking with the original blue tick system, and reviewing the guidelines for that, would have been easier.

But then, I guess, you wouldn’t be able to charge $8 to bring in some quick cash – and for context, 140,000 people reportedly signed up to the new $8 checkmark program in the days that it was available last week.

We’ll no doubt hear more about the next iteration of Twitter verification soon.

Twitter x LinkedIn

This is a more left-field option, but Elon Musk also says that people will soon be able to list their employment and education history on Twitter, expanding Twitter search into a whole new element.

Musk noted this in response to a user question about employment history and resumes, which Musk said would be ‘coming soon’ to the app.

That could add more credibility, or not, to what a user is saying. For example, if somebody’s commenting on climate change, and you check their Twitter resume and find that they have no history of climate research experience, maybe that lessens the value of their input.

Or maybe they just make it up. I don’t know, but it looks like Musk is trying to branch out into new areas, which may be aligned with his broader view of identity verification. Or it could be another opportunity to make money via job listings in the app.


Those are the big notes from Musk’s various comments and updates over the weekend, aside from his ongoing provocation of conflict between ‘the people’ and the ‘media elite’.

I’m not exactly sure where this stems from, as the negative coverage around Musk’s Twitter takeover thus far has related to staff cuts, and the way in which they were handled, verification changes, and the rushed nature of the new $8 checkmark program, and problems at the app, which Musk himself said just last week could go bankrupt at some stage.

It seems like those issues have all been reported pretty accurately, even if they’re not flattering to Musk. But maybe I’m missing something – or maybe, Musk just benefits from inciting class warfare that pits his supporters against his perceived enemies.

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Is this X’s (formerly Twitter) final goodbye to big advertisers? It looks like it



Is this X's (formerly Twitter) final goodbye to big advertisers? It looks like it

It looks like big advertisers are leaving X (formerly Twitter) for good and its owner Elon Musk couldn’t care less.

In the packed DealBook conference in New York on Wednesday, he bluntly told them to shove it. 

This response came after another round of advertisers including IBM, Apple, CNN and Disney bailed on his social network after Musk seemingly supported an antisemitic conspiracy theory last month by responding to an X user’s post — a move he’s since admitted was silly and apologized for. Musk was less remorseful over the uproar caused among advertisers, telling the room: “This advertising boycott is going to kill the company… let’s see how Earth responds to that.”

For many large marketers, this marks the end of a drawn-out farewell (lasting a whopping 13 months) to advertising on X since Musk took over. Surprisingly, even some of X’s own staff members are now calling it quits. Freelance journalist Claire Atkinson reported a “wave of resignations” from CEO Linda Yaccarino’s sales team, including a few of the remaining ad executives who were there before she officially joined in June. Musk’s actions are essentially reversing any recent progress made in reviving X’s advertising business.

Lou Paskalis, CEO and founder of AJL Advisory confirmed that Musk’s comments were indeed another extra nail in the already well sealed coffin because it reaffirmed what most large advertisers already know — Musk resents having to be beholden to them.

“He is trying to position their legitimate brand suitability concerns, largely precipitated by his ongoing antics on X, as a vast, left-wing conspiracy among advertisers to ‘blackmail’ him into constraining his right to free speech,” Paskalis said. “As someone who spent over three decades in the ad buying business, it’s laughable to think that we could all act with that level of coordination, presumably in secret.”

This event highlights how out of touch Musk is with what keeps his company running. He takes an ad boycott as a personal insult when, truthfully, it’s just part and parcel of managing a platform these days. Look at how often YouTube and Meta have dealt with similar issues over the years. The difference? The bigwigs at those companies prioritized protecting their businesses, not their public personas, and were willing to make compromises to win back advertisers. Not that it took much to win back those ad dollars — advertisers rely on those platforms as much as the platforms rely on them.

“It’s just a very sensible decision not to continue advertising on that platform which poses such a strong brand safety risk,” said Ebiquity’s chief strategy officer Ruben Schreurs. “To do all this on stage is unheard of, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

The largest advertisers seem to agree. Unlike their previous boycotts of advertising on X, this one is permanent for many of them. Some of the most active accounts like Disney, Paramount, Liongsate and Sony Pictures haven’t posted in nearly two weeks. This chimes with what one senior ad exec, who had been in touch with a number of X’s advertisers over the past year, told Digiday last month. Advertisers who had continued to spend on the platform only paid a fraction of what they used to prior to Musk, out of fear of getting called out by Musk if they didn’t.

“It’s easier to pull advertising than it is to return, and what makes the X ad boycott unique is that it isn’t primarily about content adjacency or moderation,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst, social media at Insider Intelligence. “Advertisers are concerned about the reputational damage and the uncertainty of doing business with Musk, and yesterday’s comments will deepen the rift between them.”

An impossible job has now become even more challenging for Yaccarino. Ad dollars weren’t exactly flowing into the social network before Musk’s latest rant. X has averaged a 55% year-over-year revenue decline, according to Guideline. This figure increased to 61% YOY between May and August 2023 — despite Yaccarino joining the company during the summer. 

“The hill she [Yaccarino] must climb to rekindle advertiser demand for the platform just went from steep to vertical,” said Paskalis. “I don’t know how anyone could overcome a direct verbal assault of the magnitude that Musk delivered at the DealBook conference against a customer base already alarmed by his previous rage inducing, divisive and dog whistle laden tweets. None of this will cause Linda to leave, in my opinion, as she sees quitting as failure and failure is not an option in her calculus, no matter what damage may be done to her reputation.”

X did not respond to Digiday’s request for comment.

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YouTube Adds New Analytics Cards, Simplifies its ‘Product Drops’ Feature



YouTube Adds New Analytics Cards, Simplifies its ‘Product Drops’ Feature

YouTube’s making some updates to its Product Drops feature within live streams, while it’s also adding some new analytics cards, and testing a new format for its TV app.

First off, on Product Drops. YouTube’s changing the requirements for Product Drops in live streams so that more creators will be able to include drops to highlight their items.

Up till now, Product Drops have only been available to creators who’ve connected their Shopify stores, or have access to Google Merchant Center, while creators have also had to plan Product Drops in advance, and schedule them via Live Control Room. But now, YouTube’s giving more creators more ways to access the feature.

As per YouTube:

“Any creators who have connected to their first party stores, or are participating in the YouTube Affiliate Program can set up Product Drops in the live control room on YouTube. This means that more creators will be able to use Product Drops to boost sales and engagement on their live streams.”

YouTube will also now enable creators to implement Product Drops at any time during a live stream, eliminating the pre-planned requirement.

“This will give creators more flexibility to react to the moment, and drive excitement in real time.”

YouTube says that many creators have seen good response to their Product Drops, with the interactive, engaging process helping to drive hype, and spark more response from viewers.

Product Drops are available via the Live Control Room in YouTube Studio. You can read more about how they work here.

YouTube’s also updating its Community Posts creation flow, in order to simplify the process, and ideally get more channels posting text-based updated in the app.

Community Posts remain a lesser element, though YouTube’s been working to make them a bigger focus throughout the year, by adding additional engagement elements like pollsquizzesdisappearing updates, and more.

Simplifying the creation process is another step in boosting awareness, and potentially driving more interaction with you YouTube audience.

YouTube’s also adding some new revenue analytics cards, including “Total Members” insights (which includes subscriber data) and “Where Members Joined From”, which will provide more insight into what’s driving channel growth.

YouTube’s also adding new data on why users have canceled their membership within the insights tab in YouTube Analytics.

YouTube analytics cards

As you can see in this example, the new card will show the reasons why people have opted to stop their subscription to your channel, based on responses provided in the cancellation flow.

Finally, YouTube’s also experimenting with a new format for its TV app, which will make it easier to access different elements.

YouTube TV app

As you can see in this example, shared by 9t05Google, the new format will include bigger buttons to access different elements, and further customize your YouTube experience on the bigger screen.

Connected TV is the fastest growing viewer segment for YouTube, with more and more people now looking to consume YouTube content on their home TV set. As such, it makes sense for YouTube to roll out more updates aligned with big screen viewing in order to feed into this usage.

Some handy updates, across various elements, which are worth noting as you go about managing your YouTube presence.

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Musk regrets controversial post but won’t bow to advertiser ‘blackmail’



Elon Musk's comments at the New York Times' Dealbook conference drew a shocked silence

Elon Musk’s comments at the New York Times’ Dealbook conference drew a shocked silence – Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP Slaven Vlasic

Elon Musk apologized Wednesday for endorsing a social media post widely seen as anti-Semitic, but accused advertisers who are turning away from his social media platform X of “blackmail” and said anyone who does so can “go fuck yourself.”

The remark before corporate executives at the New York Times’ Dealbook conference drew a shocked silence.

Earlier, Musk had apologized for what he called “literally the worst and dumbest post that I’ve ever done.”

In a comment on X, formerly Twitter, Musk on November 15 called a post “the actual truth” that said Jewish communities advocated a “dialectical hatred against whites,” which was criticized as echoing longtime conspiracy theory among White supremacists.

The statement prompted a flood of departures from X of major advertisers, including Apple, Disney, Comcast and IBM who criticized Musk for anti-semitism.

“I’m sorry for that tweet or post,” Musk said Wednesday. “It was foolish of me.”

He told interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin that his post had been misinterpreted and that he had sought to clarify the remark in subsequent posts to the thread.

But Musk also said he wouldn’t be beholden to pressure from advertisers.

“If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money?” Musk said. “Go fuck yourself.”

But the billionaire acknowledged that there were business implications to the advertiser actions.

“If the company fails… it will fail because of an advertiser boycott” Musk said. “And that will be what will bankrupt the company.”

Musk, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Israel earlier this week, insisted in the interview that he holds no discrimination against Jews, calling himself “philo-Semitic,” or an admirer of Judaism.

During the interview, Musk wore a necklace given to him by a parent of an Israeli hostage taken in the Hamas attack on October 7. The necklace reads, “Bring Them Home.”

Musk told Sorkin that the Israel trip had been planned earlier and was not an “apology tour” related to the controversial tweet.

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