April fool? Elon Musk escalates antics at Twitter, complicating turnaround

Twitter has changed under Elon Musk and is now antagonizing major news organizations, easing restrictions on Russian government accounts, and making crude jokes.

April fool? Elon Musk escalates antics at Twitter, complicating turnaround

CNN New York --

Twitter, under Elon Musk has antagonized many major news agencies by calling them state-funded media. It appears that it has relaxed restrictions on Russian government accounts, made crude jokes at its headquarters, and Musk's Twitter display name.

This is just one weekend.

Musk's antics seem to have only increased this month and threaten Twitter's brand values. The company has been struggling to retain advertisers, and to supplement its declining advertising business which used to make up 90% of its annual revenues. It is now trying to convince users to sign up for Twitter Blue.

Musk is responsible for large loans and must convince advertisers to return to the platform. He also needs to boost the subscription business. However, his recent erratic actions may make it more difficult to complete those turnaround efforts.

Twitter was criticized for labeling NPR a'state affiliated media' organization late last week. This is in apparent violation of its policies. John Lansing, NPR CEO, called Twitter's decision 'unacceptable' and stated that the organization was'supported by millions' of listeners.

Twitter changed NPR's name to "government funded media" and gave the same label to the BBC this weekend. Twitter has yet to define what it means by "government funded media", but the BBC responded, stating that it is independent and funded by the licence fee.

These moves could alienate some of the most well-known media organisations in the world, and undermine what has been a key selling point for this platform: its role at the center of news. NPR has not tweeted from its main account for nearly a week.

Twitter claimed that some news accounts were state-funded. However, it appears that some restrictions on Russian government accounts have been removed. This was again a source of outrage for some users.

Musk tweeted his opinion on Sunday, saying that Putin had called him a war criminal for helping Ukraine. So he's not exactly my friend. To some extent, all news is propaganda. Let the people decide.

Twitter laid off a large portion of its media relations staff last year. Twitter did not respond to a request.

These controversial actions come as Twitter continues to struggle with significant business problems. Similarweb, an analysis firm, reported last week that Twitter's ad platform traffic was down almost 19% in March. Concerns about hate speech and drastic cuts to the workforce have led many major advertisers to stop spending on Twitter after Musk's takeover.

Musk stated that Twitter is improving its ad targeting in order to increase advertisers' value. Scott Kessler (technology sector lead at Third Bridge), said that while there have been distractions all along, there were still questions about where the company is heading. Online advertising spending has declined due to concerns about the economy.

Musk's Twitter account made several head-scratching announcements against this backdrop. Some of these might just add to the challenges.

Musk had previously upset some Twitter celebrities users with his promise to remove the blue checkmarks on accounts that were verified under Twitter’s old system. It didn't go according to plan. Instead of removing checks for all verified accounts, Twitter seemed to be targeting the New York Times account.

Several days later, Twitter's home button was replaced temporarily with doge, a meme that represents the cryptocurrency dogecoin. Musk promoted it. Twitter users were also temporarily banned from linking to rival platforms by the company, which upset some users, one of whom had reported previously that Musk's so-called Twitter files used documents.

To emphasize his unique and uncertain impact on the brand's image, the 'Chief Whit' also seems to have been busy making changes at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. Photos began to spread last week of a piece plastic covering the letter 'w' on the sign at the company's headquarters.

Musk tweeted.