It’s long been obvious that Elon Musk cared more about making Twitter more right-wing than making money, But given how much he paid the sheer unsustainability of this model is getting pretty staggering:
One year after billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, aiming to rid it of a “woke mind virus” that he believed was suppressing free speech, the site’s business outlook appears dire.
The number of people actively tweeting has dropped by more than 30 percent, according to previously unreported data obtained by The Washington Post, and the company — which the entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX has renamed X — is hemorrhaging advertisers and revenue, interviews show.
But in at least one respect, Musk has delivered on his original promise: Twitter has become far less “woke.”
Through dramatic product changes, sudden policy shifts, and his own outsize presence on the platform, Musk has rapidly re-engineered who has a voice on a service that used to be the hub of real-time news and global debate. A site that fueled social movements such as the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo has veered noticeably rightward under Musk, especially in the United States, say organizers from across the political spectrum.
But now that the company is privately owned and doesn’t have to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, there is scant reliable data about the business. Data obtained by The Post, along with interviews with people familiar with the company’s dealings, contradict Yaccarino’s rosy picture.
“The revenue has not come back, the advertisers have not come back — and a lot of it is Elon,” said a person familiar with the company’s operations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal matters. “The math doesn’t add up. I think they are on a very short runway.”
Similarweb, a digital data and analytics company, said global web traffic to X is down 14 percent year over year, and traffic to Twitter’s portal for advertisers, a website that advertisers visit to purchase ads, was down 16.5 percent. And the marketing consulting firm Ebiquity, which works with 70 of the 100 top-spending advertisers in the United States, said this month that just two of its clients are currently advertising on X — down from 31 the month before Musk’s purchase closed.
The only thing Twitter has going for it is network effects, and those are starting to diminish. The opportunity is there for Jack and Zuck if they want to take it. In the meantime, though, Musk is getting what he most wants:
Now rebranded as X, the site has experienced a surge in racist, antisemitic and other hateful speech. Under Mr. Musk’s watch, millions of people have been exposed to misinformation about climate change. Foreign governments and operatives — from Russia to China to Hamas — have spread divisive propaganda with little or no interference.
Mr. Musk and his team have repeatedly asserted that such concerns are overblown, sometimes pushing back aggressively against people who voice them. Yet dozens of studies from multiple organizations have shown otherwise, demonstrating on issue after issue a similar trend: an increase in harmful content on X during Mr. Musk’s tenure.