Tag Archives: Elon Musk

Elon Musk Stakes His Leadership On A Twitter Poll

Elon Musk apologized and launched a poll asking whether he should step down as head of Twitter on Sunday night after the company launched a new policy that would suspend accounts linking to certain other platforms, a move that ignited massive backlash from individuals including some of Musk’s own supporters, The Washington Post reported.

According to The Washington Post, Musk apologized after putting the policy in place and wrote: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”

He then launched a Twitter poll, surveying users on whether he should step down. Musk had abided by past polls, despite them being unscientific and unrepresentative.

“Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll,” he wrote. He added shortly after: “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it.”

The Washington Post reported that respondents leaned heavily toward “Yes” in Musk’s poll, indicating that Musk should step down, after nearly an hour of voting: 58% of more than 3 million votes were in favor of him handing over the reins. The poll was set to expire Monday morning before the opening of the stock market. The value of Tesla’s stock – the source of much of Musk’s net worth – had recently plunged.

The Verge reported that even before Musk owned the company, there were reports that he planned to operate as Twitter’s CEO only temporarily, and just one month ago, he said under oath that he planned to find someone else to run the company.

According to The Verge, Mr. Musk claimed in follow-up tweets the company “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May” (not the first time he’s used bankruptcy in reference to Twitter. He mentioned it in a company meeting last month). Mr. Musk also said, “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”

Engadget reported that it’s worth noting Musk has already said he plans to hand over the day-to-day operations of Twitter to someone else. In fact, he made that commitment under oath. “I frankly don’t want to be the CEO of any company,” he told a court last month.

According to Engadget, a public vote won’t change that, but it might bruise his ego. What’s more, unsaid in Musk’s tweet is the fact that he faces intense pressure from Tesla investors to return his focus to the automaker. Since Musk’s takeover of Twitter at the end of October, the value of Tesla’s stock has fallen precipitously. In December alone it fell 22 percent.

Things clearly haven’t been going well on Twitter for Mr. Musk. He hasn’t been there for very long, and everything he touches seems to work out poorly for him. I can see why he might be frustrated being CEO of Twitter, considering he doesn’t seem to know what he is doing. There’s no way to know who will take his place, or how many problems Mr. Musk can create in the meantime.

Twitter Wanted To Remove Tweets Promoting Other Social Media

Twitter Inc. said it would no longer allow “free promotion of certain social media platforms” on its sites, the latest change to its content-moderation rules under billionaire Elon Musk, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Specifically, we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribal, Nostr, and Post,” Twitter said Sunday, in a series of tweets from company account @TwitterSocial.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter also updated its website to describe the new policy, which said that the company could take actions such as temporary locking or permanently suspending accounts that violated it.

Late Sunday, The Wall Street Journal stated, the tweets from @TwitterSupport and a note on the company’s website announcing the policy against promoting other social-media platforms appeared to have been deleted. Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the disappearance of the policy note on its website and the tweets.

The Verge reported that other platforms, like Telegram, TikTok, YouTube, Weibo and OnlyFans remained safe from the Twitter ban for now, and the motivation behind banning links to certain networks and not others isn’t clear.

According to The Verge, Twitter already blocks links to Twitter competitor Mastodon at a platform level. Trying to tweet out a link to several Mastodon servers or the site itself results in an error message, stating: “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”

The Verge also reported that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey replied “Why?” In response to Twitter Support’s thread about the new policy. Dorsey recently donated around $245,000 to the development of the decentralized social network Nostr, which is included in Twitter’s ban. Dorsey says Twitter’s block on Nostr “doesn’t make sense,” and currently has his Nostr username listed in his Twitter bio.

TechCrunch reported that the Twitter Safety account started a poll asking users if the company should form a policy on accounts used just to promote other social networks.

The @TwitterSafety is titled: “Should we have a policy preventing the creation of or use of existing accounts for the main purpose of advertising other social media platforms?”

The options were Yes or No. At the time I am writing this, No has 86% of votes, and Yes has 14% of votes. There are 19 hours left for people to vote in this poll.

In my opinion, Twitter has become extremely chaotic since Elon Musk became CEO. The Twitter Safety policy prohibiting people from posting links to other social media platforms appeared – and was removed – in a very short span of time. This sort of behavior is going to make Twitter users uneasy because policy is changing so quickly that they cannot ever be sure what is allowed and what isn’t.

United Nations “Very Disturbed” By Twitter’s Suspension Of Journalists

The United Nations is “very disturbed” by Twitter’s abrupt suspension of a group of US journalists, a spokesperson has said, warning that the move sets a “dangerous precedent” – as the EU said the social media platform could fall foul of forthcoming digital regulations, The Guardian reported.

According to The Guardian, Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday the UN was “very disturbed” by the barring of prominent tech reporters at news organizations including CNN, the Washington Post, and New York Times who have written about Musk and the tech company he owns.

Dujarric said media voices should not be silenced on a platform professed to be a haven for freedom of speech. “The move sets a dangerous precedent at a time when journalists all over the world are facing censorship, physical threats and even worse,” he told reporters.

Germany’s government said press freedom must not be switched “on and off on a whim” and Downing Street also raised concerns over the suspensions.

The Guardian also reported that the warning from the EU came from Věra Jourová, the European Commission vice-president for values and transparency, who tweeted that “news about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying” and said the economic bloc’s Digital Services Act (DSA) required platforms to respect media freedom. Its provisions include a requirement that when users and content are penalized it must be in a “diligent and proportionate manner, with due regard to fundamental rights.”

Politico reported that France’s digital affairs minister Jean-Noël Barrot said he was “dismayed” about the direction Twitter was taking under Elon Musk after the platform removed nine U.S. journalists and other high-profile accounts in a seemingly arbitrary decision.

“Freedom of the press is the very foundation of democracy. To attack one is to attack the other,” Barrot tweeted.

According to Politico, the Commission is preparing to enforce EU’s content law, the Digital Services Act (DSA), from summer 2023. The new Media Freedom Act is also being negotiated and may not become law until at least late 2023.

The DSA – and its ability to levy hefty fines – would require lengthy investigations by a Commission team that isn’t fully in place. The Media Freedom Act doesn’t specifically tackle an issue such as “deplatforming” or removing a person from a social network like Twitter.

The Washington Post reported that Musk’s short time leading the company has been marked by upheaval. He has gutted Twitter’s workforce, disbanded an outside trust and safety council, and reinstated numerous banned accounts, including that of former president Donald Trump.

According to The Washington Post, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted in defense of the reporters Friday, saying Musk’s actions “are a fast track to Twitter becoming obsolete.”

It seems to me that Elon Musk should heed the warnings from the various countries that are “very disturbed” about what they see happening on Twitter. The EU cannot sanction Twitter and/or Elon Musk just yet, but should be able to do so after their regulations are in force.

Musk Reinstates Suspended Journalists After Twitter Poll

Several high-profile journalists who were suspended from Twitter on Thursday evening were reinstated early Saturday, NBC News reported.

According to NBC News, Twitter users voted in a poll posted by Musk to reinstate the accounts, which were cut off without warning. The social media platform’s new owner has recently used Twitter polls for several high-profile decisions including reinstatement of former President Donald Trump’s account.

The most recent Twitter poll that Elon Musk tweeted was titled: “Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time” The choices included “Now” and “In 7 days”. The final vote showed that 58.7% of those who participated in the poll voted for “Now”, while 41.3% of those participating voted for “In 7 days”.

NBC News reported that Musk had vowed to run Twitter as a free speech absolutist, and since taking control has reinstated accounts associated with the QAnon movement and other far-right groups but banned others.

The Guardian reported that after the initial poll supported an immediate reversal of the bans on Thursday, Musk said there were too many options, and ran another poll for 24 hours with just two options: to keep the ban in place for seven days, or lift the ban immediately.

According to The Guardian, the suspension of the accounts of reporters who cover Musk was widely condemned by their employees, other media organizations, the EU and the United Nations.

In addition, after entering a Spaces conversation run by BuzzFeed News tech reporter Katie Notopoulos, Musk left the event, and not long after the Space abruptly ended and was then deleted entirely by Twitter.

The Guardian also reported that Twitter took the entire Spaces product offline for almost a day, with Musk saying a “legacy bug” needed to be fixed. After it returned, Notopoulos found she had been banned from Spaces.

The Verge reported that journalists from a variety of outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, NBC, The Intercept, and more had their accounts suspended on Thursday, most of them after tweeting about @ElonJet, a Twitter account that tracked the SpaceX-owned private jet Elon Musk users, based on publicly available FAA flight tracking data.

According to The Verge, on Friday evening, the Twitter Safety account tweeted that the company had “identified several policies where permanent suspension was a disproportionate action for breaking Twitter rules” and that it would be reinstating accounts on a weekly basis over the next 30 days. It’s unclear if the tweet was an announcement regarding Musk’s general amnesty poll, or the people banned based on the new live tracking policy.

Personally, I don’t think any social media platform should make decisions based on polls that are haphazardly posted by the CEO at random moments. Things have become more chaotic than usual on Twitter since Mr. Musk took it over.

Twitter Pulls Spaces After Musk Run-In With Banned Journalists

Twitter has apparently pulled its Spaces group audio feature, at least temporarily, after Elon Musk joined a group conversation that included journalists that had been banned from the platform, TechCrunch reported.

This happened after Twitter suspended several prominent journalists who had covered an earlier story about the Elon Jet Twitter account that was banned for using publicly-available data to track Elon Musk’s jet.

According to TechCrunch, Twitter has a quirk that allows banned users to still participate in Twitter Spaces and converse with other members, and some of those who had been banned did just that. BuzzFeed reporter Katie Notopoulos started a group chat and was joined by a number of journalists whose accounts had suspended by Twitter, including the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and Mashable’s Matt Binder, as well as Jack Sweeney, creator of the Elon Jet Twitter account who had his own personal account suspended too.

TechCrunch also reported that (at the time of writing) it is not possible to start a new Spaces conversation or join an existing one, certainly based on the various tests TechCrunch has done internally. In response to one Twitter user wondering what was going on with Spaces, Musk replied that it was “fixing a legacy bug,” and that it should be working again tomorrow.

Buzzfeed News reported Elon Musk showed up briefly in a Twitter Space hosted by BuzzFeed News tech reporter Katie Notopoulos. Shortly after the journalists attempted to further question him about the suspensions, he fled the space.

According to Buzzfeed News, the reporters had been covering the story of Twitter banning @ElonJet, an account that tweeted the whereabouts of Musk’s personal private jet using publicly available data, and then suddenly found their own Twitter accounts suspended.

The Spaces was titled: “#saveryanmac #macpack” (after former BuzzFeed News and current New York Times reporter Ryan Mac, one of the suspended journalists). Mr. Musk showed up more than two hours after it started.

Business Insider reported that Elon Musk said, “Showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate,” while in the Twitter Space.

He also said “There is not going to be any distinction in the future between journalists and regular people. Everyone is going to be treated the same.”

“They’re not special because you’re a journalist,” the billionaire said, adding that they’re “just a Twitter citizen.”

Mr. Musk also said, “You dox, you get suspended, end of story.” He also warned in the Space that trying to be “clever” by posting a link to any real-time information was no different than providing the real-time information.

Business Insider reported that after two and a half minutes, Musk abruptly left the Space.

Personally, I think it is unprofessional for the CEO of Twitter to jump into a Spaces conversation for the purpose of antagonizing the reporters (and others) who were there. I cannot understand why he did that.

I also think that Mr. Musk doesn’t understand what doxxing means. In general, doxxing includes extremely personal information – social security numbers, home address, places of business – are typically what terrible people post online when they dox someone. Posting a photo of Elon Musk’s jet isn’t doxing. 

Twitter Suspended Mastodon’s Account

Twitter apparently suspended its open source competitor Mastodon from the service on Thursday afternoon. Just prior to its suspension, Mastodon (@joinmastodon) tweeted a link to the jet tracking account on its own service, according to archives, TechCrunch reported.

TechCrunch also reported that many links to Mastodon no longer work on Twitter, which flags them as “potentially harmful.” Tweeted links to some servers without Mastodon’s name in the domain still appears to work in TechCrunch’s testing. Banned domains include mstdn.social and mastodon.social, while links to journa.host and others still work. Later, Twitter blocked more links to Mastodon servers that don’t reference the service in the domain name, including journa.host and SciCom.xyz.

According to TechCrunch, Elon Musk’s personal and political preferences have guided a number of Twitter policy decisions since the company’s hands-on new owner took over. While Musk declared that Twitter would allow any content that isn’t illegal, he’s since disallowed specific accounts for personal reasons.

On Mastodon, a federated, open source Twitter alternative, a single individual can’t set the rules for the whole platform, TechCrunch reported. Mastodon’s servers – separate but open instances of the social network – are run by individuals who can set rules, but users can also decamp to a different server if they don’t agree with those choices.

RollingStone reported that Twitter appears to be blocking tweets linking to many major Mastodon servers; tweets to many Mastodon links result in an error message stating, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified as being potentially harmful.” The link ban followed a chaotic Thursday night where many prominent journalists were abruptly suspended from Twitter.

According to Rolling Stone, as celebrities and everyday users wave Twitter goodbye amid the drastic changes, Musk (whose reported affinity for booting accounts who annoy him is a regular theme) has suspended competitor Mastodon’s Twitter account. Other social media platforms, like Facebook and TikTok are up for now.

The Hill reported that Twitter has suspended the account of another social media platform that has gained attention in recent weeks in light of controversy Twitter has faced since Elon Musk took over the company.

The Twitter account for Mastodon was suspended as of Thursday night for violating Twitter’s rules. Mastodon became more popular as a possible alternative to Twitter in the aftermath of Musk’s acquisition of the latter at the end of October, with the two platforms having some similarities but also key differences that appeal to some users looking to leave Twitter.

The Hill also noted that Mastodon is not owned by a single company or person as a decentralized social media platform. It is instead made up of a network of servers that run independently but can connect to allow people to communicate.

I am on Mastodon, and have seen an influx of people who came from Twitter. Some keep their Twitter account, while others delete theirs in favor of Mastodon. It is unclear to me whether Elon Musk is aware that Mastodon is open source, and there are many servers and instances to choose from.

I suppose that Elon Musk is allowed to make decisions about what can, and cannot, be posted on Twitter. That said, blocking links to Mastodon is only going to make people more curious about what Mastodon is like. It feels like Elon Musk has unintentionally initiated the “Streisand effect”.

Twitter Suspended The Accounts of Several Journalists

Twitter suspended several high-profile journalists Thursday evening who have been covering the company and Elon Musk, NBC News reported. Some messages said the accounts were “permanently suspended,” though Musk indicated the suspensions would last seven days.

According to NBC News, the suspensions come a day after Twitter changed its policies around accounts that track private jets, including the one owned by Elon Musk.

The suspended accounts include: Ryan Mac of The New York Times, Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Drew Harwell of The Washington Post, Matt Binder of Mashable, Micah Lee of The Intercept, Steve Herman of Voice of America, and independent journalists Aaron Rupar, Keith Olbermann and Tony Webster.

The New York Times reported that Twitter suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires, and high-profile individuals, including that of Mr. Musk. Many of the accounts were operated by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student and flight tracking enthusiast who had used Twitter to post updates about the location of Mr. Musk’s private plane using publicly available information.

According to The New York Times, Mr. Musk said last month that he would allow the account that tracked his private plane to remain on Twitter, though he said it amounted to a security threat. “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” he said in a tweet at the time.

However, The New York Times reported that Mr. Musk changed his mind this week, after he claimed a car in which one of his sons was traveling was accosted by a “crazy stalker”.

On Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted: “Any account doxxing in real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info. Posting locations someone traveled on a slightly delayed basis isn’t a safety problem, so is ok”.

The Verge reported that the reporters who have been banned all seem to have recently tweeted about Musk’s attempts to crack down on the sharing of the whereabouts of his private jet.

In an email to The Verge, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, pointed to a policy update the company made yesterday prohibiting the sharing of “live location information, including information shared on Twitter directly or links to 3rd-party URL(s) of travel routes.”

Irwin continued,”Without commenting on any specific accounts, I can confirm that we will suspend any accounts that violate our privacy policies and put other users at risk. We don’t make exceptions to this policy for journalists or any other accounts.”

The Verge reported that accounts like ElonJet, and the similarly suspended CelebJet and RUOligarchJets are frequently used by climate activists to highlight the egregious effect private jets have on the environment.

Ideally, the this policy could be used to suspend people who have doxxed someone on Twitter, or to suspend large accounts that target people in the hopes that their followers will choose to cause those people harm. It’s difficult to know for certain how the policy will actually be used.