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Elon Musk And The Many Twitter Twists

By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

After the seemingly controversial acquisition of mega blogging platform,Twitter, Elon Musk still swims in controversies.

First was the antics of oath taking for loyalty by workers, a situation seen by many as a hard pill to swallow, and the resignations in droves. Deadlines followed which Musk insisted those workers must abide by or ship out with a three-Month pay off. This too didn’t go down well with the workers.

And despite the joggling of staff from Tesla and SpaceX to Twitter, no one seems fooled because everyone knows Musk to be perpetually engrossed in controversial ways.

Musk has been known to gag his workers and oath of secrecy was nowhere alien to those who work with or for him.

He has also vowed to deploy legal means to challenge any one including his workers who criticize him and so the Twitter deal was done to raise his hold on mega businesses but firm control over this platform that was seen as a platform for those who have important messages to pass to the general public.

Advertising has been reduced to subscriptions thereby restricting access to all.

He has opted to regulate the platform with iron fist and despite reopening President Donald Trump,s official handle that was ousted by former managers for what was seen as toxic posts, Musk scored an own goal as Trump declined to reopen the handle.

Only a few days ago, those involved with the Twitter debacle voted that Musk should step aside as a mark of his personal honour if Twitter will return to its preeminence. But will he step down from his strong grip and let Twitter run its race? The drama continues.

The move came after mounting criticism of his chaotic leadership at Twitter, including recent decisions to suspend journalists and introduce (and then delete) a controversial policy banning the practice of linking out to rival platforms; laying off half of the company’s staff; firing others who disagreed with him; and welcoming back onto the platform previously banned figures who trafficked in misinformation, conspiracy theories, and hate speech.

Musk has led Twitter Inc. for a little over seven weeks, taking the helm after buying the social-media platform in a deal valued at $44 billion in October.

His ownership of the San Francisco-based firm has gotten off to a turbulent start with many advertisers having paused spending, mass layoffs and resignations, and content-moderation actions that have been abrupt and controversial among many users, including reinstating former President Trump’s account and disbanding Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.

Trump has not tweeted since being reinstated.

The past week has been another one full of twists. Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists, prompting criticism from some lawmakers and officials before Musk said Saturday that Twitter would begin reinstating the accounts.

He had asked Twitter users to vote on Sunday on whether he should step down as head of the social-media platform and pledged to abide by the results, the latest twist in what has been a tumultuous period for the company since his takeover in October.

“Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll,” Musk said in the tweet, posted to his own account. He gave users two options for a response: “Yes” or “No,” according to the tweet.

In another tweet shortly after, Musk added: “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it.”

Earlier on Sunday, Twitter made another sudden change to its content-moderation rules, saying it would no longer allow “free promotion of certain social media platforms.” That also fueled criticism and questions, including from Twitter co-founder and former chief executive Jack Dorsey, who has previously endorsed Musk’s takeover. “Doesn’t make sense,” Musk explained.

Musk, who has said he intends to make the platform a bastion of free speech, appeared to acknowledge some concerns about the recent, abrupt content policy changes. “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again,” he tweeted shortly before posting the poll about his leadership on Sunday.

Musk has warned about Twitter’s financial condition, saying this past month that the company had suffered “a massive drop in revenue” and was losing over $4 million a day. He later raised the possibility of bankruptcy.

Musk’s team this past week reached out for potential fresh investment for Twitter at the same price as the original $44 billion deal, a Twitter investor said.

Musk also is contending with investor questions about electric-car maker Tesla Inc., which he runs in addition to Twitter and rocket company SpaceX. Tesla’s stock is down more than 57% this year.

Musk this past month said he had too much work to do that he needed to be left alone to do that which will move Twitter forward.

“I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” he testified at a trial about his Tesla pay package this past month. He also said he has been spending most of his time of late focusing on Twitter.

It isn’t clear who would take over leading Twitter if Musk were to step aside. Most of its prior top leaders either were fired or left after he took over.

“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted Sunday.

Some Tesla shareholders have complained that Musk’s recent focus on Twitter is hurting the auto maker. This month he sold more than $3.5 billion of Tesla stock in his second round of sales since buying Twitter. It wasn’t clear what prompted Musk to sell additional Tesla stock, and the company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Musk had previously tweeted: “At risk of stating obvious, beware of debt in turbulent macroeconomic conditions, especially when Fed keeps raising rates.” Twitter, as part of the acquisition by Musk, took on around $13 billion in debt.

Musk has turned to Twitter polls several times.

This past month, Musk reinstated Trump’s Twitter account after polling users about whether the platform should do so. Nearly 52% of users voted in favor of reinstating Trump’s account. Musk has also polled users about other decisions around account suspensions.

It is unclear how much the poll results influence Musk’s decisions. Last year he asked on Twitter whether he should sell Tesla stock at a time he had already committed to a share-sell program that wasn’t yet public.

Musk has been trying to boost user engagement in Twitter after lamenting even before closing the deal for the platform that it had lost its attraction to some big name users. He has also tried to make Twitter less dependent on digital advertising, which accounted for about 90% of its revenue. An effort to bolster Twitter’s paid-for subscription service suffered several false starts and was finally relaunched last week.

The policy change announced on Sunday took aim at the ability of users to link to rival platforms. Twitter said the ban on tweets and accounts engaging in “free promotion” affected platforms including Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta Platforms Inc., Mastodon, Truth Social—the platform set up by Trump—and others.

After the new rule was announced, Mr. Musk tweeted later Sunday that it would be modified: “Policy will be adjusted to suspending accounts only when that account’s primary purpose is promotion of competitors, which essentially falls under the no spam rule.”

While Musk fired off some tweets on Monday evening, posting statistics on Twitter usage during the epic World Cup final and retweeting posts from his Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX companies, it remains unclear if he will actually step down from his post at Twitter after vowing to “abide” by the results of the poll. By his own admission, there isn’t someone readily available to run the perilous platform. In one Sunday night tweet, Musk wrote: “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.”

Some Tesla investors who have grown increasingly vocal, are hoping there is someone else who can take the reins at the social network. Musk last month said he would “find somebody else to run Twitter” and that he expected to “reduce” his time there. And while there are a host of names being floated. CNBC reported last week that Tesla shares have slid 28% since Musk took over Twitter.

Although it’s still too early in the day to imagine what the future of Twitter looks like, but something is clear, the company may not be the same again as we await the next line of action by controversial Musk and his many twists.

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