When Linda Yaccarino joined forces with the apartheid-educated, authoritarian-loving, journalist-censoring, racist, misogynistic, anti-worker troll Elon Musk, the conventional wisdom was that the new Twitter CEO's top priority would be to make the platform a safe space once again, if not for women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, teachers, librarians or facts, at least for major advertisers.
Yaccarino was taking over a company in crisis.
As reports mounted of advertisers fleeing Musk's "Toxic Twitter," as hate speech flooded the site, as staff were fired and bills went unpaid, everyone assumed that Yaccarino, a former NBC Universal executive, would use her "track record and strong relationships" to get advertising back on track.
But the first major advertising initiative of the Linda Yaccarino era has been announced. And in a sad and depressing milestone, brands still pouring money into the Twitter cesspool now find themselves funding some of the most dangerous and divisive voices on social media.
Yaccarino was optimistic
Just last month, in her first major statement as CEO—an "I'm drinking the Elon Kool-Aid" Twitter thread posted on June 12—she wrote:
“We have the opportunity to reach across aisles, create new partnerships, celebrate new voices, and build something together that can change the world. From what I can tell so far, we’re built for this.”
As The New York Times reported on June 29, Yaccarino was not immediately allowed to actually negotiate deals with advertisers (due to a noncompete clause with NBCUniversal). But she was already speaking to advertisers about their problems with the "unsavory content" on the site.
Unfortunately for her, the most prominent source of unsavory content on Twitter was the man who had just hired her.
Her biggest problem is Elon
The Saudi-backed Twitter owner has humiliated Yaccarino throughout her (already 4-Scaramuccis long) tenure as CEO. The most shocking moment occurred on July 9th when Musk volunteered to whip out both his penis and his ruler for a "literal dick measuring contest" with Mark Zuckerberg.
At Twitter, he's truly letting it all hang out. As Ameshia Cross wrote for The Daily Beast:
Sexualizing women and making penis jokes may be all in a day’s work for the world’s richest man, but the consequences run deep.
These types of crude jokes are major HR violations—as they should be. Not only do they foster a hostile environment for women (or anyone who objects to such misogynistic behavior), they represent a huge step back to the days before #MeToo, when women were expected to laugh off such garbage or be labeled “difficult” or “humorless” or worse.
As CEO of Twitter, Yaccarino is not simply tolerating Musk's inappropriate online behavior and the message it sends to her employees and his 148 million followers. She's actively endorsing it. Her Twitter bio literally tells the world she's "inspired by provocative leadership."
Cash for trash
On July 13, Twitter announced it was expanding its "creator monetization" platform for people who: 1) Are subscribed to Twitter Blue or Verified Organizations; 2) Have at least 5M impressions in each of the last 3 months; and 3) Pass human review.
This monetization opportunity rewards the new generation of "blue-tick" users who pay for their verification status using a system that, as Business Insider noted, "has favored misogynists, conspiracy theorists, crypto scammers, and right-wing trolls, whose posts now get priority."
As part of the rollout, the lucky few who had been part of Musk's initial $5 million cash giveaway tweeted their satisfaction with the payouts.
As Taylor Lorenz reported for the Washington Post, the initial wave of creators to be rewarded skewed towards the troll-y, right-wing accounts who mirror Musk's personal preferences. Andrew Tate, Ian Miles Cheong, Rogan O'Handley, and the anonymous account End Wokeness all featured.
Tate, who is currently awaiting trial in a sex trafficking and rape investigation in Romania, said he had been paid $20,000, while End Wokeness claimed to have earned $10,400.
Also celebrating their new cash winnings were left-wing grifter twins Ed and Brian Krassenstein who, like Tate and O'Handley (aka "DC Draino"), had been banned from Twitter when it was still a publicly run company that paid its bills and enforced its terms of service.
The Krassensteins' checks totaled nearly $50K—$24,877 for Ed, $24,305 for Brian—in an apparent attempt to make the new monetization scheme appear bipartisan. But like the right-wing provocateurs who gobbled up most of the initial revenue-share, the Krassensteins are now an established part of Elon's Twitter bro clique.
Musk has been conspicuously chummy with the Krassensteins—following them and interacting with them frequently—since he first announced his cash bonus pool back in February.
In return, the twins have been aggressive promoters of Twitter Blue and are now giving their followers get-rich-quick advice to succeed in the new blue-check Twitter game, with tips like: "be consistent!", "troll the trolls for more trolling," "keep users in the comments section," and "avoid outbound links when you can."
As Vox noted:
Since it financially rewards creators who have more replies, Twitter’s new program could incentivize its creators to post controversial tweets that spark heated conversation. One user pointed this out, tweeting, “The more haters you have in your replies the more money you’ll make on Twitter.” To which Musk replied, “Poetic justice.”
Meanwhile, the program as currently structured "means small accounts will be left out, and increases the likelihood that Musk's scheme will be a cash cow for his favorites rather than a real game-changer," says Business Insider.
As if to prove that the initial $5 million in Twitter payola went only to those "influencers" hand-picked by Elon, user Catturd—who has recently been critical of Musk—tweeted that Twitter "only paid the people they wanted to pay," adding: "Rock the boat, you won’t be in the club."
Them's the rules of fascism, Catturd.
In the real world, real creators suffer
While Elon's cutting checks for his most dependable and despicable Twitter fanboys, real creators are getting hit hard.
The whole country knows that writers in Hollywood are striking for fair pay.
But they're not the only ones suffering.
Children's authors—writers who seek to educate and inspire young readers—are also also getting cut off at the knees, reports Kelly Jensen in BookRiot.
According to Jensen's new author survey, the conservative war on Black history and LGBTQ identities is leading not only to book banning and reduced sales, but also the cancellation of school and library visits that many children's authors have come to rely on.
Most authors earn at least 1/4 of their annual income from school and library visits. The loss of one visit is tough. The loss of several visits is downright devastating. A full 20% of the authors in this survey earn over 50% of their income from visits.
At a time when even Republicans admit that reading scores are deplorable—and the notion of reading for fun by American kids is now almost non-existent—children are being denied lessons in tolerance even as they spend more time amid the bullying, hate, misinformation and negativity of social media.
And the billionaire-backed, fascist-friendly "anti-woke" brigades are making sure that their messaging gets funded while others lose income and watch their careers suffer.
Defund the polite
Right-wing censorship spearheaded by Ron DeSantis and Moms for Liberty is now making it harder for legitimate, award-winning authors and illustrators to earn a living.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino have abandoned content moderation, deboosted legitimate journalists, and championed online abuse as "free speech."
If every dollar paid to Andrew Tate is a reason to quit Twitter, you already have twenty thousand.
Because under Linda Yaccarino, Twitter isn't just asking brands to run advertising. It's asking them to actively fund far-right extremists.
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