EXPLANATION: What Elon Musk on Twitter could mean for users

DOES MUSK HAVE A HISTORY WITH TWITTER?

In fact it does. Musk’s 80.5 million followers on Twitter make him one of the most popular figures on the platform, rivaling pop stars like Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. But his prolific tweets sometimes get him into trouble when, for example, he uses them to promote his business, rally Tesla loyalists, question anti-pandemic measures, and fight those with whom he disagrees. agreement.

In one famous example, Musk apologized to a British cave explorer who alleged that Tesla’s CEO had branded him a pedophile by referring to him as a “pedophile boy” in an angry and later deleted tweet. The explorer sued for defamation, though a Los Angeles jury later acquitted Musk.

He has also been embroiled in a lengthy dispute with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over his activity on Twitter. Musk and Tesla in 2018 agreed to pay $40 million in civil penalties and have their tweets by Musk approved by a corporate lawyer after he tweeted about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 a share, which did not happen but caused Tesla to act . price to jump His attorney has argued that the SEC is infringing on Musk’s free speech rights.

WHAT DOES MUSK PLAN TO DO ON TWITTER?

Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” and has made it clear that he does not believe Twitter lives up to the principles of free speech, a view shared by supporters of Donald Trump and several right-wing political figures who have had their accounts suspended for violating Twitter’s content rules.

But what really drives Musk’s involvement on Twitter is unclear. His concerns with the service include arguing for the public to be able to see Twitter’s algorithm, expanding the availability of “verified” Twitter accounts, and launching a profile picture initiative involving non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

Musk has also called “crypto spam bots,” which search for tweets with crypto-related keywords and then pose as customer support to empty users’ crypto wallets, the “most annoying problem on Twitter.”

“We don’t know what their targets are,” said Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor and social media expert. “Maybe Elon Musk secretly wants to blow up (Twitter)… maybe he wants to destroy it.”

WHAT CAN MUSK REALLY DO AS A BOARD MEMBER?

Musk’s role as a board member and as Twitter’s largest shareholder certainly gives him an outsized say in the company’s future. He has been publicly praised this week by the CEO and other board members, a sign that Twitter leaders are likely to take his ideas seriously.

But he remains just one member of a 12-person board who, according to Twitter, has “an important advisory and feedback role” but no responsibility for day-to-day operations and decisions. That means Musk won’t have the authority to add an “edit button” or restore Donald Trump’s suspended account.

“Our policy decisions are not determined by the board or shareholders, and we have no plans to reverse any policy decisions,” Twitter spokesman Adrian Zamora said.

WHAT DO SHAREHOLDERS THINK?

Several Wall Street analysts said they were encouraged by Musk’s new role on Twitter. “This is a guy who pushes for change, who, I think, refuses to have failure on his resume. A perfect guy you need on the board for them,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst at CFRA Research. That’s true, Zino said, even if “what exactly his ideas are, who the hell knows.”

Other investors are not so sure. Meredith Benton, founder of investment consulting firm Whistle Stop Capital, has been lobbying shareholders at both Twitter and Tesla to support tougher policies affecting workplace harassment and discrimination. She describes Musk’s new role as a worrying development for Twitter investors, especially given allegations from California regulators that Tesla has been discriminating against black employees at its San Francisco Bay Area factory.

“Twitter’s biggest challenge today is successfully navigating through the social implications of using its platform,” Benton said. “Elon Musk with his air of reckless bravado risks undermining thoughtful and strategic management of these issues.”

WHERE IS TWITTER AS A COMPANY?

There has been executive turnover since co-founder Jack Dorsey’s departure in November left Twitter with a new chief executive, Parag Agrawal, whose initial actions involved reshuffling divisions. Wall Street analysts approved of Agrawal’s choice as the new leader, but there have been no major changes to the platform yet. The company has long lagged behind its rivals on social media and has far fewer users.

Simply linking Musk’s high-profile name to Twitter could get people to spend more time on the platform and help it make more money, Zino said, calling Musk “the most important person” on Twitter.

ISN’T MUSK A PRETTY BUSY GUY?

You wouldn’t know this from his prolific postings, but he has several big roles, including CEO and “technologist” for electric car company Tesla and CEO of rocket company SpaceX. He is also the founder of The Boring Company, an underground company. tunneling company and Neuralink, which wants to plant computer chips in people’s brains.

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