Musk's $151 billion loss amid Twitter chaos

Musk’s $151 billion loss amid Twitter chaos

Elon Musk’s personal fortune has taken a massive hit as he continues to grapple with the fallout of his controversial decisions as Twitter’s new owner.

The Tesla founder’s net worth is falling at an extraordinary rate, with the tech billionaire’s 2022 losses so far topping $101 billion (AU$151.4 billion).

Musk is still considered the richest man alive, but the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows how far he’s fallen since last year.

According to the index, his personal wealth is $169.8 billion ($251.4 billion), a huge difference from last year’s $340 billion ($503 billion).

That means Musk has shed more than $400 million every day so far this year.

The extraordinary losses come as Telstra shares hit their lowest level in two years.

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Shares in the electric car maker, which accounts for the bulk of Musk’s fortune, have fallen 56 percent over the past year.

The decline has been linked to a tightening of Covid-related restrictions in China, which has put pressure on the company.

This isn’t the only issue Tesla has faced, as a taillight issue has forced the company to recall more than 321,000 vehicles.

“On rare occasions” affected cars’ taillights will flash intermittently due to a software issue, the company said in a Nov. 15 document to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that was only recently released.

Brake lights, reverse lights and turn signals are not affected. Tesla is planning a free remote software update to address the issue on the affected 2020-2023 Model 3 and Model Y.

The company explains in the document that it was made aware of the issue by customers primarily outside the United States in late October, and confirmed its origin on November 7.

The automaker said it was not aware of any incidents or injuries related to the issue.

Twitter takeover plagued with problems

Musk’s Twitter acquisition has been bumpy, to say the least, as the billionaire staved off a major backlash by summarily laying off half the workforce and enacting tough new rules for the remaining workers — a move that prompted hundreds of others to quit.

The chaos has also caused advertisers to flee the platform, with Pfizer and Volkswagen AG just pausing some of the brands paid advertising on Twitter.

Advertising accounts for 90 percent of Twitter’s current revenue.

Now, in the latest roadblock for Twitter, Musk announced he was “holding back” on reintroducing controversial subscription service Twitter Blue.

Twitter Blue was revamped and relaunched shortly after he acquired the company, allowing users to add a blue tick next to their profile for $12 ($8) per month — previously only used to verify the identity of notable people or organizations was used.

Musk said allowing people to buy blue ticks would be a “great leveler.”

However, when the new Twitter Blue took action, nefarious users began, as many had predicted, to impersonate individuals and organizations that had the verified tick.

The new Twitter Blue was withdrawn after a chaotic few days.

“Delaying the relaunch of Blue Verified until there is high confidence to stop impersonation,” Musk said.

“Will likely use different color checks for organizations than for individuals.”

After Musk stopped Twitter Blue, he originally announced that purchasable blue ticks would be back by around November 18th.

This deadline has now also been postponed.

He gave no indication Monday as to when Twitter Blue might be back.

As reported by The New York Timesaround 140,000 people out of 238 million users subscribed to the new Twitter Blue before it was removed.

That would have equated to about $1.7 million (US$1.12 million) in sales. In reality, the income would have been less, as some people would have already paid $5 for the previous iteration of the subscription service that didn’t include a blue tick.

Website Mashable said that in a “best-case scenario,” it’s hoped Twitter Blue could be part of a plan to bring Twitter about $132 million ($88 million) in revenue annually.

Musk teases ‘general amnesty’ from suspended accounts

Last week, Musk restored former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account after conducting a poll on the platform.

Now he’s asking users if the site should offer general amnesty to all banned accounts.

The move comes as Musk has faced opposition that his criteria for moderating content is subject to his personal whim, with reinstatement being decided on specific accounts rather than others.

“Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts provided they haven’t broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?” Musk asked in a tweet.

A blanket decision on suspended accounts could potentially alarm government agencies, which have been closely monitoring Musk’s handling of hate speech since he bought the influential platform for $44 billion.

It could also spook Apple and Google, tech titans who have the power to ban Twitter from their mobile app stores over content concerns.

Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters who were trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

– with AFP

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