The news of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk taking a board seat on Twitter has some Twitter employees worried about the future of the social media firm’s ability to control content, company insiders told Reuters.
Within hours of the shocking revelation this week that Mr. Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech dictator,” had gained enough shares to become a top Twitter shareholder, political conservatives began flooding social media calling for Donald Trump’s return. After January 7, the former US president was banned from Facebook and Twitter.
“Now that @ElonMusk is Twitter’s largest shareholder, it’s time to lift political censorship. Oh … and bring Trump back !, ”Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert tweeted Monday.
Despite Twitter’s reiteration this week that the board has not made a policy decision, four Twitter employees who spoke to Reuters said they were concerned about Mr. Musk’s ability to influence company policies on abusive users and harmful content.
With Mr. Musk on board, employees said his views on restraint could undermine years-long efforts to make Twitter a healthier discourse and lead to the development of trolling and mob attacks.
In the wake of Mr. Trump’s ban from Facebook and Twitter, the billionaire tweeted that many people would be dissatisfied with US technology companies acting as “de facto arbitrators of freedom of speech.”
The purpose of the mask
Mr Musk did not say what he wanted to do as a new board member, but he did telegraph his intentions through his Twitter activity. A week before Mr Musk announced his 9.1% share on Twitter, he surveyed his 80 million followers to see if the site adhered to the freedom of speech policy and a majority voted “no”.
Employees, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, point to Mr. Musk’s history of using Twitter to attack critics. In 2018, Mr Musk came under fire for accusing a British diver of helping a pedophile rescue children trapped in a cave in Thailand.
Mr Musk has won a defamation suit against divers in 2019.
Asked for comment, a Twitter spokesman reiterated a statement Tuesday that the board “plays an important advisory and feedback role across our entire service”, but that day-to-day activities and decisions are taken by Twitter’s management and employees.
“Twitter is committed to the development and enforcement of its policies and regulations,” the spokesman said.
Some employees with whom Reuters spoke were not so sure about the company’s commitment in this regard.
“It simply came to our notice then [the board] There is no effect, ”said one employee. “If so, why would Elon want a board seat?”
But other employees told Reuters that Mr Musk’s involvement could help accelerate new features and product launches and provide a new perspective as an active Twitter user.
Neither Tesla nor Mr. Musk responded to requests for comment.
Twitter’s board statistics are mainly discussed in Twitter, compared to other technology companies, an employee said. Because unlike Meta Platform Inc., where founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls the company through a dual-tier share structure, Twitter has only one tier of shares, which makes it even more risky for employees like Mr. Musk. Teams within Twitter often consider how to approach a strategy or decision board, for example, the employee said.
Thursday Kasturi m Tweet In a 2018 photo on Spotify, Joe Rogan smokes weeds on a podcast that reads: “Twitter’s next board meeting is about to be lit up.”
An employee familiar with the company’s operations said there were no current plans to reinstate Mr. Trump. A Twitter spokesman said there were no plans to reverse the policy decision.
But a veteran automated analyst who covers Mr. Musk’s operating style at Tesla says such a decision could only be a matter of time.
“If Donald Trump were really rich, he would love to do the same thing, but he couldn’t afford it. So Elon is doing what Trump would have liked to do,” said Sam Abulsamid, a Guidehouse Insights analyst.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter now retrieves Trump’s account that Elon owns about 10% of the company,” he said.
In the long run, staff say Mr Musk’s involvement could change Twitter’s corporate culture, which they say currently values inclusion. Mr Musk has been widely criticized for posting memes mocking transgender people and trying to stem the tide. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)And to compare some world leaders with Hitler.
Several employees were alarmed by Mr Musk’s warm welcome from Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal and co-founder Jack Dorsey, which prompted them to hit the job market this week.
“Some people are dusting off their CVs,” said one person. “I do not want to work for anyone [like Musk]”- Shila Dang / Reuters