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Breaking Twitter

Written By Michael Ferrara

Created on 2023-11-10 14:40

Published on 2023-11-15 15:30

In the dynamic and often turbulent world of social media, 'Breaking Twitter: Elon Musk and the Most Controversial Corporate Takeover in History' by Ben Mezrich offers an in-depth exploration of one of the most dramatic episodes in recent technological history. This book delves into Elon Musk's engagement with Twitter, presenting it as a saga replete with drama and controversy. It's a story that transcends the boundaries of a mere social media platform, highlighting a visionary's struggle, his emotional battles, and the chain of events leading to significant upheavals in the digital landscape. As we embark on this journey, the book guides us through the controversies that shook Twitter to its core and provides an intimate look at the emotional rollercoaster experienced by Elon Musk during this tumultuous period.

The Controversies That Shook Twitter

The journey of Twitter under Elon Musk's stewardship has been anything but smooth. It began with the platform's long-standing battle against online harassment and hate speech, a challenge that has consistently raised questions about its ability to protect its community. This issue set the stage for a series of controversies that would define Twitter's new era.

One of the most significant controversies erupted over the handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story. Twitter's decision to temporarily ban the New York Post's account following its publication of an article about Hunter Biden's laptop sparked a fierce debate over censorship and freedom of speech. This incident was a clear indication of the tightrope Twitter was walking in its content moderation policies.

Elon Musk himself became a central figure in the controversies. His tweets and public statements often stirred the pot, influencing public perception and adding to the platform's challenges. Musk's approach to public communication was a double-edged sword, bringing attention and scrutiny in equal measure.

The internal dynamics at Twitter added to the drama. The resignation of key personnel and subsequent threats of physical violence highlighted the intense internal tensions and external reactions to the changing leadership and policies. This period was marked by uncertainty and fear, both within the company and among its vast user base.

The influence of high-profile users like former President Donald Trump added another layer of complexity. Trump's use of Twitter, especially during his presidency, was a source of significant controversy, impacting the platform's relationship with advertisers and other stakeholders.

Musk's decision-making, particularly the dissolution of the Trust and Safety Council, was met with widespread criticism. This move raised alarms about the future direction of the platform and its commitment to user safety and content moderation.

Public reaction to Musk's actions varied widely, ranging from support to severe criticism. This polarization highlighted the divisive nature of his leadership style and the challenges of managing a platform that has become a central part of public discourse.

The controversy reached a peak with the poll regarding Musk's role as CEO. The subsequent claim of bot interference in this poll became a point of contention, fueling debates about the integrity of the platform's processes and Musk's leadership.

One of the most contentious decisions was the permanent suspension of Donald Trump's account. This move, made due to the risk of further incitement of violence, was a major point of controversy, reflecting the platform's struggle to balance freedom of expression with the responsibility to prevent harm.

Finally, the rumors and reality of layoffs and restructuring under Musk's leadership created a tense and controversial atmosphere within the company. This period was marked by uncertainty, fear, and speculation, both for employees and the wider Twitter community.

Elon Musk's Emotional Rollercoaster

Amidst these controversies, Elon Musk's emotional journey was equally turbulent. Facing criticism from his Tesla following was a new and emotionally challenging experience for him. This backlash was a departure from the usual adulation he received, marking a significant shift in his public persona.

Musk's role as a public figure and internet "troll" created a complex emotional landscape. Balancing his success with his controversial online presence, he navigated a world where every tweet and statement had far-reaching implications.

His growing paranoia, particularly about trust issues and bots on Twitter, reflected an emotional state that was becoming increasingly complex. This paranoia was not just a personal challenge; it impacted his decision-making and the direction of the platform.

Musk's reaction to perceived betrayal by Twitter employees and his response to fear were emotionally charged moments. These instances highlighted the intense pressure he was under and the emotional toll of leading a platform under intense scrutiny.

A significant emotional moment for Musk was his breakdown following a poll about his CEO role at Twitter. The poll, where millions of people voted for his resignation, was a stark reminder of the volatile nature of public opinion and the emotional impact it had on him. This event was not just a professional setback; it was a deeply personal blow, reflecting the intense connection Musk had with his ventures and his public image.

The shift in Musk's mood and decision-making process, becoming more emotionally driven, was particularly evident during his campaign against mainstream journalists on Twitter. This period was marked by a palpable change in his demeanor, as he grappled with the challenges of managing a platform that was constantly in the public eye.

Musk's exhaustion from working round the clock and the constant barrage of negative attention led to a more serious and morose demeanor. This change was accompanied by an undercurrent of real anger, a departure from his usual public persona. It was a clear indication of the toll that the Twitter saga was taking on him.

The realization that he was no longer perceived as the same infallible genius by the world outside his inner circle was an emotionally significant moment for Musk. This shift in public perception was a new experience for him, challenging his self-image and his understanding of his place in the public consciousness.

Throughout this journey, Musk's emotional responses were a reflection of the immense pressure and scrutiny he was under. Each decision, tweet, and public statement was a tightrope walk, balancing his vision for Twitter with the realities of managing a platform that had become a central part of global discourse.

Crawford and Answar: The Unsung Heroes

Esther Crawford, serving as the Director of Product Management, and Rami Answar, in his capacity as a Senior Engineer, played pivotal roles in the intricate workings of Twitter during a period marked by significant upheaval. Their positions placed them at the forefront of not only managing the crises that emerged but also in comprehensively understanding and navigating the complexities of Elon Musk's leadership style and the rapidly evolving nature of the platform.

Crawford's expertise in product management allowed her to strategically steer product development and user experience in alignment with the company's vision, while Answar's technical acumen as a Senior Engineer was crucial in addressing the technological challenges and innovations that were integral to Twitter's growth and adaptation during this transformative era. Together, their combined efforts and insights were essential in maintaining the platform's stability and progress amidst the whirlwind of changes and challenges.

Crawford, with her keen insight into organizational behavior and her ability to anticipate the repercussions of Musk's decisions, played a vital role in mitigating the fallout from various controversies. Her approach was not just reactive; it was also about proactively creating strategies to manage the public and internal perception of Twitter's actions.

Answar, on the other hand, brought a different set of skills to the table. His understanding of the technological aspects of Twitter, combined with his ability to remain calm under pressure, made him an invaluable asset. He was often the voice of reason, providing a counterbalance to Musk's sometimes impulsive decisions and helping to navigate the technical challenges that accompanied the platform's rapid changes.

Together, Crawford and Answar formed a formidable team. Their complementary skills and perspectives were crucial in managing the complex interplay of emotions, public perception, and the operational challenges that defined Twitter's journey under Musk.

Managing Musk's Emotional Upheavals

Musk's emotional responses to the challenges he faced were often intense and immediate. Crawford and Answar's role in managing these emotional upheavals was critical. They were not just managing a CEO; they were managing a visionary whose emotional state could significantly impact the direction of the company.

Crawford's approach was often about providing a sounding board for Musk, helping him to process his emotions and guiding him towards more measured responses. Her ability to understand the human aspect of leadership was key in ensuring that Musk's emotional upheavals did not translate into hasty or detrimental decisions for Twitter.

Answar's role, in contrast, was more about providing practical solutions and alternatives. His focus was on ensuring that the technological and operational aspects of Twitter were not adversely affected by Musk's emotional state. He was often the bridge between Musk's vision and the practical realities of implementing that vision in a fast-paced, ever-changing digital landscape.

Steering Through Controversies

The controversies that surrounded Twitter were not just external challenges; they were also internal tests of leadership and resilience. Crawford and Answar's roles in steering through these controversies were about more than crisis management; they were about safeguarding the future of the platform.

Crawford's strategic thinking was crucial in navigating the public relations aspect of these controversies. Her ability to foresee potential issues and to plan accordingly was a key factor in mitigating the negative impact of various decisions and events.

Answar's focus was on ensuring that the platform remained stable and functional, even as it faced public scrutiny and internal upheavals. His technical expertise and steady hand were essential in maintaining the integrity of Twitter's operations, even in the most challenging times.


The story of Twitter under Elon Musk is a tale of high drama, marked by controversies and emotional upheavals. It is a reflection of the challenges faced by tech leaders in the digital age, where every decision can have far-reaching implications. For Musk, this journey has been an emotional rollercoaster, testing his resilience, his vision, and his understanding of the world. As Twitter continues to evolve, the lessons from this period will undoubtedly shape its future and the future of social media as a whole.

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Tech Topics is a newsletter with a focus on contemporary challenges and innovations in the workplace and the broader world of technology. Produced by Boston-based Conceptual Technology (, the articles explore various aspects of professional life, including workplace dynamics, evolving technological trends, job satisfaction, diversity and discrimination issues, and cybersecurity challenges. These themes reflect a keen interest in understanding and navigating the complexities of modern work environments and the ever-changing landscape of technology.

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