‘He is poised to open the floodgates’: can Twitter survive Elon Musk – or even thrive?

Advertisement
- Advertisement -


TeaWitter is not a good place to live right now. This is nothing new, but the chaotic takeover of Elon Musk has increased day-to-day horrors. In the weeks since he’s held a basin through the company’s San Francisco office—so he can tweet “let that sink in”—and himself tweets first “main tweet” and then “Twitter complaint hotline operator” (his actual title, As for internal systems, the boring old “Chief Executive Officer”), the world’s richest man has made the corporate-acquisition equivalent of turning the table in half through a game of chess.

- Advertisement -

Outwardly, the changes are slim, but significant. His first task was to order changes to the site’s homepage. if you go twitter.com Without logging in to an account, you will no longer be redirected to the log-in page; Instead, you’ll be taken to the Explore tab, an algorithmically curated selection of the site’s best Tweets and most popular trends. It’s focused, in other words, from encouraging users to sign up or log in, to embracing visitors who just want to see what’s going on and then bailing.

That change of focus is not unprecedented. Twitter has flipped and flopped on this question several times in the past, sometimes arguing that its goal as a company is simply to maximize the number of people who can read tweets, other times arguing that it should be limited to account holders. Should be maximizing, and secondly the focus should be on “monetizable” users – the ads they see. No, the point of change is not what happened, but when it happened: immediately.

advertisement

No focus groups, no A/B testing, no memos back and forth between senior executives debating the pros and cons of each option. Musk commands, and change happens. The message to those inside and outside Twitter was clear: Meet the new boss, not the old boss at all.

In the days since, Musk has torn down the social network’s headquarters like a hurricane. Backed by a mind trust of close friends including venture capitalists Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan, PayPal co-founder David Sachs, and Alex Spiro, his personal lawyer, as well as a select group of Tesla engineers, he set about reshaping Company set up in

- Advertisement -

Along with the symbolic change in the homepage, there were also actual changes in the working team. Musk fired Twitter’s chief executive and chief finance officer as well as head of legal and policy, Vijaya Gadde – the most powerful woman on Twitter and the person most recognized with the decision to ban Donald Trump from the site. Despite initial reports that officials were queuing for the multimillion-dollar Golden Parachute, Musk seemingly fired him “for reason” instead of deciding he hadn’t seen enough courtrooms in the past six months. – that is, alleging gross incompetence – and denying them their payment.

The payoff will almost certainly come eventually, when Musk plays a shorter version of the same courtroom drama that forced him to buy the company in the first place. According to Financial Times reportTheir argument is that the company’s stock would have fallen in value had it not been for their bid. other note The fact that executives worked so hard to force Musk to complete the purchase shows that he actually did his job very well, securing a multi-billion payout for shareholders that evaporated. Had they let him go away.

But then, the message is sent: no one is safe. And the rest of the office knows it. On the first day, a message went out to the coders (software engineers) to print out their last 30 days of work and bring it to a code review, where one of the Tesla engineers would assess their skills. Shortly after, a second message came out, asking people to cut those printouts. But the code review went ahead, albeit digitally, and on Monday, the rank-and-file sorting began.

In practice, code reviews appear to be little more than a blunt ranking of quantities, such as a construction crew assessing how many bricks they have laid. They can’t get much more complicated than this, as Musk aims to see over a quarter of the company’s workforce — and to do it quickly. Although the main tweet denied that it was apparently trying to get rid of employees before an expensive round of cash bonuses took place on November 1, there is still time pressure. Even those who pass a code review, their jobs could be in jeopardy: One project, to overhaul the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service and bring in a monthly fee for verification, took just a week. border was established. Whether the project is really urgent, or simply a useful way of encouraging those who are unwilling to work all hours and weekends for a new manager to leave voluntarily, is unclear. At least Twitter employees can take some comfort in the fact that Musk’s intention to lay off 75% of its workforce has yet to materialize.

If Musk sounds like a boss from hell, you won’t be the first to think so, and Twitter employees aren’t the first. In the internal Tesla email, leaked last yearhe laid out his management style clearly to the underling: “If I’m sent an email with clear instructions, there are only three actions allowed by managers. 1) Email me back to explain that I Why what I said was wrong. Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong! 2) Request more clarification if what I said was unclear. 3) Execute instructions.

“If none of the above is done, that manager will be asked to resign immediately.”

in spring, He again threatened to lose his job immediately, as part of the office-to-the-office mandate at Tesla. Employees were expected to be in the office at least 40 hours a week, he said, “or leave Tesla”. Showing he had a soft spot, Musk allowed remote work to continue – as optional extra hours on top of a minimum of 40 hours. “If you don’t come, we’ll assume you’ve resigned.”

Over the summer, employees of another company of his had had enough. “SpaceX must swiftly and clearly differentiate itself from Elon’s personal brand,” he wrote in a letter to senior executives, calling Musk “distraction and embarrassment.” Instead, the letter-writers were fired.

But Musk didn’t buy Twitter to cut jobs, nor to expand his fiefdom, which has already covered the land (Tesla), space (SpaceX) and the underworld (The Boring Company) in cyberspace. Is. In fact, he was clear about his motivations until April, when he first made a bid to own the company. “Free speech is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy,” he said, “and Twitter is the digital town square where matters important to the future of humanity are debated.”

Not everyone thinks Musk is the right person to oversee it. “Several studies have shown that social media is a major cause of misinformation and propaganda, especially when it comes to spreading harmful elections that erodes trust in our democratic institutions,” said Lindsay Melkey ​​of the nonpartisan anti-corruption group They say accountable. We. “To the credit of the previous Twitter leadership, he attempted to control the problem somewhat. But now Musk is ready to open the doors to electoral propaganda, making it truly the Wild West of Big Lie propaganda and a safe haven for rebels.” The port is done.”

Musk had other thoughts, too. Within days of marching to Twitter headquarters, he was ridiculed earlier about segregating content moderation, reinstating banned accounts and emphasizing “free speech.” Updating your bio from “Chief Tweet” to “Twitter complaint hotline operator” was an acknowledgment, though understated, that claiming the sole power to decide the outcome of moderation decisions on a platform of over 200 million people is not fun. Is.

In the first weekend after buying the company, he announced that he would be setting up a “content moderation council with widely diverse perspectives”, and that no major decisions would be taken until this was met. . Like Mark Zuckerberg before him, who established Facebook’s “board of oversight” to formalize decision-making around content moderation — and to outsource blame for mistakes — Musk angles for power but not responsibility. .

Example: Mark Long/The Guardian

Unlike Zuckerberg, Musk has strong business reasons to avoid being held responsible for his company’s decisions. Twitter may be his current love, but Tesla is his source of wealth, and the car company sells vehicles around the world – including in China, where Twitter is banned and where the government was Found out on Tuesday Has been running 2,000 accounts on the social network aimed at influencing America’s midterm elections. Promoting freedom of expression in America is merely protecting the Constitution; Promoting it in China is a disastrous act.

So why is he doing this? Because Musk is a poster at heart. He can’t stop posting on the internet. He believes, wholeheartedly, that Twitter is of social importance, and that without the guidance of his strong hand, it will erode its influence, and he will have nowhere to post.

The thing is, it’s not clear that he’s wrong.

The problems on Twitter predate Musk. It’s hard to remember now, but in the early 2010s, Twitter and Facebook used to be talked about in one breath. As a social network, it wasn’t the biggest, but it wasn’t the smallest either – and unlike Facebook, it had cracked mobile from day one, with an offering that would help the growing number of smartphones around the world. was perfectly suited for penetration.

It’s not hard to imagine a parallel world where things went differently. Perhaps if Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram had fallen through, and Twitter had left the more personal side of social media open to that absence, and won over younger users as a result, both companies…


Source: www.theguardian.com

- Advertisement -

Recent Articles

Related Stories