Like all bona fide members of the media, we’ve been glued to the Elon Musk–Twitter takeover ever since the fateful tweets last April, when the Tesla and SpaceX billionaire, seemingly on a whim, set out to buy the social media giant. After he was forced to make good on the offer in October, things got even weirder and more chaotic. Thousands of employees were laid off, and others were trolled by their new boss. Independent journalists were invited in to comb through the company’s internal files and tweet out what they found. A new pay-for-verification system was so ridiculously simple to use to make fake accounts that it had to be retracted a day after its launch. Was he trying to tank the company? Just incompetent? Were we too blind to see his vision? All that most of us had to go on were the tea leaves of his tweets and the drip-drip of leaks that made it into news accounts.
To understand what it was actually like on the inside—how it felt to spend a decade trying to make the platform safer and more usable only to have that infrastructure upended overnight—we partnered with The Verge, which had already been running some of the most incredibly sourced, deeply knowledgeable reportage in the field. Reporters Zoë Schiffer, Casey Newton, and Alex Heath spent the past three months talking to current and former Twitter employees who together told the story of that turbulent time inside Twitter—the contradictory instructions, the disappearance of critical colleagues, the backbiting and brownnosing, the anxiety and unintended comedy. The story is still playing out in real time, so it may be too soon to say whether this new “extremely hardcore” (Musk’s phrase) iteration of Twitter will survive, but it’s certainly been a wild ride.
–David Haskell, Editor-in-Chief