Expectations are building that Elon Musk will step down as CEO of Twitter after a poll that he launched and vowed to “abide by” showed a majority of respondents voting “yes” to his departure from the helm of the social media giant.
Musk posted the poll on Dec. 18, asking whether he should step down as head of the company less than two months after he bought the platform, pledging that he’d abide by its results.
At the time, he didn’t say when he’d leave the post if the poll showed that he should, while replying to one Twitter user’s comment on a possible change at the helm of the social media giant that, “There is no successor.”
The poll closed at about 6:20 a.m. New York time on Dec. 19, with the final tally showing that 57.5 percent voted in favor of Musk’s departure.
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
Musk’s most recent post before the poll’s conclusion stated, “Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it.”
Before the poll closed, Musk engaged with several posts about him potentially leaving the top job.
Any New CEO ‘Must Like Pain a Lot’
The Whole Mars Catalog account on Twitter commented that Musk should “hire someone as Twitter CEO … that way when things go wrong you can blame that person, but you still ultimate [sic] control as the owner.”
That prompted Musk to respond, “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”
Podcast host Lex Fridman said he had a “fun” suggestion, namely that he should be allowed to “run Twitter for a bit. No salary. All in. Focus on great engineering and increasing the amount of love in the world.”
Musk replied by clarifying to prospective replacements that any new CEO “must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?”
Fridman replied: “Yes. We’ll turn it around,” with his tweet receiving an endorsement from professor of psychology and public speaker Jordan B. Peterson, who said in a tweet that “I’d vote for @lexfridman and if there’s anything I could do to help I’m in.”
Last month, Musk told a Delaware court that he’d reduce his time at Twitter and eventually find someone else to take over as its chief.
Some Twitter users reacting to the poll when Musk launched it predicted that, whatever the results, Musk would continue to be the CEO for several months until he finds a suitable successor.
Musk’s poll on his leadership at the helm of the social media platform came after Twitter’s Dec. 18 policy update, which prohibited accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social media firms and content that contains links or usernames for rival platforms, including Facebook and Truth Social.
‘Free Promotion’ of Other Platforms Banned, Then Eased
Twitter announced on Dec. 18 that it will no longer allow for “free promotion” of certain social media platforms on the site, including Facebook and Truth Social, before appearing to make a U-turn on the decision.
In a thread posted on Dec. 18, Twitter Support said: “We recognize that many of our users are active on other social media platforms. However, we will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter.”
Twitter Support noted that at both the tweet level and the account level, it will remove any free promotion of prohibited third-party social media platforms, such as linking out via the use of URLs to platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr, and Post.
Video-sharing platform TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, wasn’t included in the list.
“We still allow cross-posting content from any social media platform. Posting links or usernames to social media platforms not listed above are also not in violation of this policy,” Twitter stated.
Backlash Over New Policy
The decision marked the latest major policy change at Twitter since Musk took over in October.
However, it soon sparked a backlash among Twitter users, including Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, who wrote in a tweet that Twitter’s new policy “doesn’t make sense.”
Hours after Twitter announced the new policy, Musk later took to Twitter to explain that he was relaxing the new rule.
Musk loosened the new rule after interacting on Twitter with Box CEO Aaron Levie and news and content organization The Quartering the latter of which stated that “telling people they can’t link out to their Instagram is way too far.”
Musk said he agreed and concluded that the policy will be adjusted to suspending accounts only when that account’s primary purpose is to promote social media competitors of Twitter instead, which Musk said essentially falls under Twitter’s no-spam rule.
In a later tweet, Musk noted: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”
Musk has been instrumental in facilitating the release of the “Twitter Files,” which are records of internal discussions at the social media platform that paint a picture of a censorship machine that worked with government agencies to suppress content, in particular from conservative-leaning accounts.
Musk, who after taking over Twitter in late October promised to release internal files on “free speech suppression,” has since granted access to the trove of documents to several individuals—investigative reporter Matt Taibbi, journalist Bari Weiss, and author Michael Shellenberger—who have been releasing them in tranches dubbed the “Twitter Files.”
Episode six of the Twitter Files, elaborated on in detail by Taibbi, was shared on Dec. 16 by Musk.
KABOOM 💥💥💥💥💥 https://t.co/TS3jFZ51VR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
Included in the latest Twitter Files drop are screenshots of FBI requests for Twitter to censor posts on the platform, as well as screenshots showing Twitter complying in a dynamic that Taibbi described as a “master-canine” relationship.
“The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which ‘FBI San Francisco is notifying you’ it wants action on four accounts,” Taibbi wrote, sharing a screenshot of an email from the FBI asking for “any action or inaction deemed appropriate within Twitter policy” with respect to accounts that “may potentially constitute violations.”
Three of the four flagged accounts were suspended, with the one that was spared sometimes posting anti-Trump and blue-leaning content.
Twitter didn’t return a request for comment while an FBI spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the agency regularly notifies private sector entities about “foreign malign influence” but any actions are taken independently by the companies.
For years, executives at Twitter insisted that no censorship or shadow-banning of conservatives took place on the social media platform, a claim shattered by the Twitter Files disclosures.
Previous disclosures shed light on Twitter’s blacklisting of some conservative accounts, internal deliberations on banning former President Donald Trump’s account, and the FBI’s alleged role in the suppression of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.