Elon Musk has a seat on Twitter’s board of directors, right after revealing himself as the largest shareholder in the social media company.
The announcement instantly sparked rumors of change, as Twitter users speculated on how the world’s wealthiest man might influence the platform.
Musk has been questioning Twitter’s moderation policies for weeks, and at one point, even claimed to be considering starting his own social media platform to rival Twitter (this strategy didn’t work out for Donald Trump, who doesn’t even use his own platform, Truth Social).
Musk is openly committed to making changes under the banner of democracy. On March 25, 11 days after becoming Twitter’s largest shareholder, Musk tweeted a poll, asking his followers, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk added in a follow-up tweet: “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
Musk announced his new role on the board, and Musk was elated. polled his followersAgain, Parag Agrawal, the CEO of Twitter, asked if Twitter should include an edit button. He intentionally included spelling mistakes to emphasize his point. notedThe poll could have serious consequences. With the majority of Musk’s Twitter followers being made up of simpering Tesla fans, the results of these polls might be more than a little skewed.
The debate over a Twitter edit button is not new. Twitter users are concerned about the possibility of bad-faith trolling. Users would likely be able edit tweets once they go viral.
An edit button, however, could be just the beginning, as Musk’s ascension to the board has many Twitter users concerned that the changes the billionaire has planned could be detrimental to the quality of conversation on the site (which, frankly, has never been great).
Musk identifies as a “free-speech absolutist,” the billionaire is notoriously thin-skinned, famously slandering a cave explorer as “pedo guy” on Twitter, threatening critics with legal action, and reportedly firing employees who disagree with him. Musk is a Twitter user. angrily respondedThe Onion published the following mockery by The Onion (amusingly The Onion has now doubled its efforts).
For Musk’s ever-impressed fanbase, however, the news was seen as uplifting; Musk’s new position even inspired fans of former President Donald Trump, who instantly began campaigning for Trump to return to the platform, which he was famously banned from after tweeting about the January 6th riot.
Another user called for The Babylon Bee to be restored. The satirical news blog was taken offline in March after Rachel Levine misgender Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.
Babylon Bee makes fun of diversity and gender from a conservative social perspective and portrays Musk as overwhelmingly positive. Musk expressed his enthusiasm for the site and appears to have lost touch with it on Twitter.
Seth Dillon is the Babylon Bee CEO. He claims Musk called him to ask if the satirical website had been blocked. On TwitterDillon wrote the following:
“Musk reached out to us before he polled his followers about Twitter’s commitment to free speech. He wanted confirmation that we had been suspended. He also suggested to me that perhaps he would need to invest in Twitter. Now he’s the largest shareholder and has a seat on the board.”
We don’t know if Musk is as influential as Twitter users think, or if this new role is just another PR stunt by the internet troll.