Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio added merely: “Musk. Free speech.”
Followers of QAnon, the far-right extremist ideology based mostly on a sprawling set of false claims, theorized that Musk was destined to merge Twitter with former president Donald Trump’s troubled Reality Social community, making social media nice once more.
The giddiness from the proper — and consternation from the left — stems from the information that Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief govt, had joined Twitter’s board after buying a 9 % stake within the firm, making him its largest shareholder.
Musk’s sudden transubstantiation from a Twitter critic to a Twitter chief has naturally sparked hypothesis each inside and out of doors the corporate as to simply how the outspoken tycoon may wield energy over its insurance policies — and whether or not he may cajole it into reversing its ban on Trump.
Twitter wasn’t the one platform to punish the president, nevertheless it was Trump’s digital megaphone of selection. The company’s decision on Jan. 8, 2021, to completely ban him, following the Jan. 6 Capitol rebel, was a watershed within the historical past of social media and American politics. Twitter’s ban went additional than its rivals Fb and YouTube, whose indefinite suspensions left open the likelihood that Trump might return for a 2024 presidential run.
Musk has already mentioned he plans to enact “important enhancements” at Twitter and has polled his gazillion Twitter followers on whether or not they assume Twitter does sufficient to uphold principles of free speech.
He additionally polled them on Monday as as to whether they want an edit button. In what Twitter insists is a coincidence, the corporate on Tuesday introduced it’s certainly working on an edit button.
Even at this early juncture, it appears clear to each workers and out of doors critics that Musk could have a point of affect over the corporate’s communications, if solely by pressuring it to handle no matter harebrained tweet he might hearth off on a given day.
Musk has given at the very least some indication that he could also be rankled by Twitter silencing elected officers. He tweeted on Jan. 11, 2021: “Lots of people are going to be tremendous sad with West Coast excessive tech because the de facto arbiter of free speech.”
Reporting by my Put up colleague Elizabeth Dwoskin reveals that Twitter’s executives sought to reassure their very own anxious workers that Musk won’t set coverage for the corporate. One despatched an open letter to employees promising that the work of combating “hate speech and trolls” was “greater than any board member.” And an organization spokesman advised The Washington Put up: “Our day-to-day operations and selections are made by Twitter administration and workers.”
It will definitely be uncommon for a single board member, who owns 9 % of an organization, to unilaterally change its coverage on one thing as momentous because the Trump ban. That’s a choice for chief govt Parag Agrawal and his employees, together with coverage chief Vijaya Gadde, who has overseen the corporate’s increasingly interventionist approach to points reminiscent of hate speech, misinformation and person security. Even when the board of administrators have been to attempt to contain itself — maybe by pressuring Agrawal — Musk would nonetheless be only one amongst that group, albeit the richest and loudest.
Musk just isn’t one to let norms — and even, at occasions, legalities — stand in his manner, as his unorthodox filings to buy a stake in Twitter as soon as once more confirmed. If he have been so moved, he might attempt to pressure Trump again onto the corporate’s agenda by way of a blitz of tweets, which might animate his personal supporters whereas offering prepared fodder for an keen conservative media to take up the trigger. With Musk on the board, Twitter might not merely ignore such a marketing campaign or dismiss him as a crank.
Even then, nevertheless, overturning the coverage would require him to win over Agrawal, who has indicated his help for the ban, or persuade his fellow board members to oust Agrawal. Neither appears notably probably at this juncture.
Whereas bringing again Trump might maybe assist guarantee Twitter’s place within the political highlight within the occasion of a profitable Trump 2024 marketing campaign, it will alienate giant swaths of customers and workers, and maybe additionally advertisers, who’re the corporate’s fundamental income supply.
However all of this assumes a degree of ardour for reinstating Trump that Musk has given no proof he possesses. Although he has on a number of events proven help for the final concept that Twitter ought to promote free speech, he has mentioned nothing of word on the Trump ban since that January 2021 tweet.
In truth, Musk has mentioned what he thinks is the “single most annoying downside on Twitter” right this moment, and it has nothing to do with Trump. Somewhat, the goal of his ire was “crypto spam bots.” He’d most likely discover way more help, each inside Twitter and on its board, for prioritizing higher anti-spam techniques to scrub up the platform than for bringing Trump again.
This isn’t to say that workers are unsuitable to fret about Musk meddling of their work. The addition of an influential and vocal board member with a bias towards laissez-faire content material insurance policies might definitely have an effect on among the firm’s priorities, notably these on which his considerations are shared by different board members and leaders. For a platform that after took a hands-off strategy, Twitter has invested closely in recent times in analysis and product adjustments to advertise what it calls “healthy conversations” — a aim that Musk might or might not share.
No matter Musk, the corporate might really feel compelled to present some extra thought to its Trump ban if Trump emerges as a favourite to win the GOP nomination in 2024.
But when Trump and his supporters have been banking on Musk to miraculously revive his Twitter account earlier than then, they may have higher luck fixing Truth Social.