Elon Musk’s arrival stirs fears amongst some Twitter staff

Information of Tesla Chief Government Elon Musk taking a board seat at Twitter has some Twitter staff panicking over the way forward for the social media agency’s capability to average content material, firm insiders advised Reuters.

Inside hours of the shock disclosure this week that Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” acquired sufficient shares to turn out to be the highest Twitter shareholder, political conservatives started flooding social media with requires the return of Donald Trump. The previous U.S. president was banned from Fb and Twitter after the Jan 6. Capitol riot over issues round incitement of violence.

“Now that @ElonMusk is Twitter’s largest shareholder, it is time to raise the political censorship. Oh… and BRING BACK TRUMP!,” tweeted Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert on Monday.

Regardless of Twitter’s reiteration this week that the board doesn’t make coverage choices, 4 Twitter staff who spoke with Reuters mentioned they concern Musk’s capability to affect the corporate’s insurance policies on abusive customers and dangerous content material.

With Musk on the board, the staff say his views on moderation might weaken years-long efforts to make Twitter a spot of wholesome discourse and permit trolling and mob assaults to flourish.

Within the wake of Trump’s ban from Fb and Twitter, the billionaire tweeted that many individuals could be sad with U.S. tech corporations appearing “because the de facto arbiter of free speech.”

Musk has not articulated what he desires to do as a brand new board member however he has telegraphed his intentions together with his Twitter exercise: Per week earlier than Musk disclosed a 9.1% stake in Twitter, he polled his 80 million followers on whether or not the positioning adhered to the precept of free speech, and the bulk voted no.

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The workers, who requested to not be named for concern of retribution, level to Musk’s historical past of utilizing Twitter to assault critics. In 2018, Musk got here below fireplace for accusing a British diver who had helped rescue youngsters trapped in a collapse Thailand of being a pedophile.

Musk received a defamation case introduced by the diver in 2019.

When requested for remark, a Twitter spokesperson repeated an announcement from Tuesday that the board “performs an vital advisory and suggestions function throughout the whole lot of our service,” however day by day operations and choices are made by Twitter’s administration and staff.

“Twitter is dedicated to impartiality within the improvement and enforcement of its insurance policies and guidelines,” the spokesperson mentioned.

Some staff Reuters spoke to weren’t so positive in regards to the firm’s dedication to this. “I discover it onerous to consider (the board) does not have affect,” mentioned one worker. “If that is the case, why would Elon desire a board seat?”

However different staff Reuters spoke to mentioned that Musk’s involvement might assist quicken the tempo of recent function and product launches, and supply a recent perspective as an energetic person of Twitter.

Neither Tesla nor Musk responded to requests for remark.

Twitter’s board figures prominently in discussions inside Twitter, extra so than at different tech corporations, one worker mentioned. That’s as a result of not like Meta Platforms Inc, the place founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls the corporate by a twin class share construction, Twitter solely has a single class of shares making it extra weak to activists like Musk. Groups inside Twitter typically think about the right way to talk a technique or resolution to the board, as an illustration, the worker mentioned.

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Trump’s return?

One worker accustomed to the corporate’s operations mentioned there are not any present plans to reinstate Trump. A Twitter spokesperson mentioned there are not any plans to reverse any coverage choices.

However a veteran auto analyst who covers Musk’s working type at Tesla mentioned it is possible solely a matter of time. “If Donald Trump was truly wealthy, he would have favored to have carried out the identical factor however he could not afford it. So Elon is doing what Trump would have favored to have carried out,” mentioned Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

“I would not be stunned” if Twitter restores Trump’s account now that Elon owns practically 10% of the corporate,” he mentioned.

Long term, staff mentioned Musk’s involvement could change Twitter’s company tradition, which they are saying at present values inclusivity. Musk has confronted widespread criticism for posting memes that mock transgender individuals, efforts to stem the unfold of COVID-19 and has in contrast world leaders to Hitler.

A number of staff had been alarmed by the nice and cozy welcome of Musk by Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and cofounder Jack Dorsey, prompting them to hit the job market this week.

“Some persons are dusting off their resumes,” one particular person mentioned. “I don’t need to work for anyone (like Musk).”