Elon Musk does he really become a “passive” shareholder of Twitter, as he told the US stock market regulator? We can seriously doubt it. Less than a day after his surprising rise to social network capital to become the largest shareholder with 9.2% stake, the Tesla and Space-X boss is already pushing his new toy.
“Want a button to edit tweets?”
On Tuesday, April 5, the erratic billionaire set fire to the powder with a survey on the social network. The new shareholder wants to know if users want a button to edit tweets after posting. The question seems harmless, except that it is a point of tension with Twitter, which for years has been vehemently opposed to this request claimed by many users, but considers it dangerous because of the excesses it could generate.
Do you want an edit button?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) Apr 5, 2022
As Elon Musk’s tweet shows, this request is very popular among users of the blue bird: by 11:10 a.m. French time, more than 2.4 million people had responded to the survey, 73.6% of whom had responded “Yes”. A priori, an “edit” button is an excellent idea: it often happens that a mistake is made or a link is forgotten in a tweet, so by providing the possibility to edit it, these minor mistakes could easily be corrected. corrected without the tweet at all and do it again as it is now.
Except Twitter fears that if the user can change their tweet a posteriori, certain evil spirits will take the opportunity to launch viral controversies that could ignite the web in minutes, or unleash hatred and intimidation while knowing that they tweet them afterwards. A precaution that seems relevant when false information, hate speech and online harassment are a real scourge on social networks, including Twitter.
Jack Dorsey, the company’s emblematic founder and CEO until last November, had even indicated in 2020 that Twitter wouldn’t add anything to it”probably never” button “edit”. For him, this functionality is contrary to the mood of the social network. The company even made an April Fool’s joke a few days ago, since the topic regularly comes up in the user requests without unnecessarily changing opinion of the board .
we are working on an edit button
—Twitter (@Twitter) Apr 1, 2022
[Poisson d’avril ! …. mais plus pour longtemps ?]
Is Elon Musk Crusade Against Twitter Moderation?
Does this seemingly light initiative set the tone for the stance of Twitter’s new largest shareholder? In the comments following his survey, Elon Musk reacts as if he already thought he was the company’s CEO. A user responds as follows: “On two conditions. If it’s available for a few minutes […] and if there is a small link showing that a change has taken place”† And Elon Musk to validate: “That seems reasonable to me”† To another user who asks him to improve the identity verification system to fight”crypto spam bots” – these robots that automatically post promotional tweets -, the shareholder responds “Yeah, that’s the most annoying problem on Twitter in my opinion†
For now, the level of Elon Musk’s stake in Twitter’s capital does not allow him to influence executive decisions. But it wouldn’t be the first time a shareholder has slowly stepped into capital only to eventually topple the table. The method is well known: target a troubled company or a company that is not doing well enough in the eyes of the market, gradually increase capital by igniting the wrath of small shareholders through increasingly targeted criticism of management, to finally ask her head.
Twitter isn’t there yet, of course, but the company seems like a good target for an activist shareholder: The potential is real, but the strategic choices are contested and it has failed to find the miracle recipe for monetization. And Elon Musk is one of the most critical figures of Twitter’s current functioning, accusing it of curbing free speech with his moderation policies which, in fact, aim – very unsatisfactorily in the eyes of regulators – to fight against fake news. , hate and online harassment.
The new CEO’s -ironic?- response to Elon Musk
Parag Agrawalthe new CEO since November 2021, quoted Elon Musk’s poll with an answer that’s hard to say whether it’s serious or ironic.
Is it the intent of the CEO of Twitter to really consider the survey in order to possibly adjust the social network’s policies, or is it an ironic way of putting Twitter’s first shareholder in his place?
Be that as it may, hostilities appear to be open. This research shows that Elon Musk has no intention of stopping criticizing the social network, despite becoming its largest shareholder. Just before announcing his commitment, the Tesla and Space-X boss had published a series of posts questioning Twitter’s commitment to free speech and asked his 80 million followers if they wanted a “different social network.”