Elon Musk asked Twitter’s users to decide if he should stay in charge of the social media platform after acknowledging he made a mistake Sunday in launching new speech restrictions that banned mentions of rival social media websites. In yet another drastic policy change, Twitter had announced that users will no longer be able to link to Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon and other platforms the company described as “prohibited.”
But the move generated so much immediate criticism, including from past defenders of Twitter’s new billionaire owner, that Musk promised not to make any more major policy changes without an online survey of users.
“My apologies. Won’t happen again,” Musk tweeted, before launching a new 12-hour poll asking if he should step down as head of Twitter. “I will abide by the results of this poll.”
The result was clear: 57.5% voted that he should step down as head of Twitter. More than 17 million Twitter accounts took part in the poll, the equivalent of 7% of all users on the platform.
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
In a subsequent message on Twitter, Musk posted: “Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it.”
It remains to be seen whether the billionaire will abide by the results. Musk previously said that he would step down once Twitter was in a better position. Perhaps now, he has changed his mind and wants to resign earlier. However, even if he appoints someone else to be CEO, he will remain the owner of the social media platform.
In another tweet, following the poll, Musk said: “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”
The action to block competitors was Musk’s latest attempt to crack down on certain speech after he shut down a Twitter account last week that was tracking the flights of his private jet. He also took aim at journalists who were writing about the jet-tracking account, which can still be found on other social media sites, alleging that they were broadcasting “basically assassination coordinates.”
He used that to justify Twitter’s moves last week to suspend the accounts of numerous journalists who cover the social media platform and Musk, among them reporters working for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America and other publications. Many of those accounts were restored following an online poll by Musk.
The banned platforms included mainstream websites such as Facebook and Instagram, and upstart rivals Mastodon, Tribel, Nostr, Post and former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social. Twitter gave no explanation for why the blacklist included those seven websites but not others such as Parler, TikTok or LinkedIn.
The image of Musk at the Qatar World Cup final with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, also sparked backlash on Twitter. After Musk bought the social media company in late October, he reinstated Trump’s Twitter account, which had been suspended after the former president’s supporters stormed the US Capitol.