Elon Musk has no idea what he’s doing with Twitter
All this grandstanding about moving fast and breaking things has not resulted in any tangible changes to the functionality of Twitter; he’s just removed staff and key divisions of the site and, in the process, made the site that much less functional for the people who are already here.
It’s clear that he has no real strategy amid this train wreck of a takeover, but at least Musk knows who we should all blame.
“If things go wrong,” he said, “it is my fault because the buck stops with me.”
Elon Musk is winging it. The richest man in the world has announced a tremendous amount of changes in the two weeks since he’s taken over as Chief Twit of the San Francisco tech giant. And from his performance Wednesday, it looks like he’s ruling over his newfound kingdom based purely on ego and the ramblings of the reply guys who stroke his celebrity.During a Wednesday morning Twitter Space “town hall” hosted by Twitter Vice President Robin Wheeler — one of the first times Musk has spoken in a public, off-the-cuff setting about Twitter — he repeated two things : that he’s going to move fast, and that he’s going to break things . (Shocker.)“We’re aspirationally not dumb but we’ll do dumb things ,” he said. “If we do not try bold moves, then how will we make great improvements? We have to be adventurous here and then we can make some really big leaps and have radical improvements, but these come with some risk, so the key is to be extremely agile. When we make a dumb move, we correct it quickly. That’s what really matters.”It was clear: Even in this softball interview setting, Musk had the energy and presence of a college freshman flubbing it through a class presentation. He was ill-prepared for questions about advertisers and how to handle bad-faith actors on Twitter . “If nothing else,” he said, “I am a technologist and I can make technology go fast and that’s what you’ll see on Twitter .”He was asked about the revival of Vine, the so-called “content moderation council” and the opening up of blue check verification to “the peasants” and other decisions he’s made as the Chief Twit. Apparently without a clear plan in mind, Musk repeatedly asked the people around him for suggestions.When asked by Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO David Cohen about how the council would be set up, for example, Musk replied, “That’s a hard one to answer; it will take us a few months to put that together.” He then asked, “If you have any thoughts, what do you think we should do?” (Cohen responded that he’d take the conversation offline.)That’s not a great answer, especially if you’re trying to assure Cohen — the head honcho of a key advertiser advocacy group — that the future of content moderation for advertisers and users looks bright on Twitter . To quell their concerns, Musk suggested that brands and executives should just use Twitter and see for themselves that it’s gotten better.During his explanation on the wildly messy blue-check verification system — which you’ll only need “a phone, a credit card and $8 a month” to access, he said — he failed to go in-depth on how the site will monitor and control bad actors on the platform. “If there’s impersonation, trickery, deception, we will actively be suspending accounts,” he explained, talking about racist trolls and misinformation disseminators like they’re just regular ol’ David Copperfields. (He also said that brands will have to pay to be on Twitter , but joked that he will foot the bill if they really don’t want to pay.)
Seconds later, he said, off-handedly, “Maybe this is a dumb decision but we’ll see.”
But perhaps the most damning thing of all: For all of his promises that he’s revamping Twitter for good, nothing has fundamentally changed about it; he’s just ruining his $44 billion impulse buy. That content moderation council he boasted about is still a few months out. The one piece of content moderation he has introduced was seemingly to protect his pride. Verification launched Wednesday afternoon without any changes to the users who have it, and already, people are using it to impersonate other users.Despite promises that Twitter has “mitigated the recent surge in harmful behavior,” election misinformation ran rampant Tuesday. The other feature Twitter launched during his tenure — the “Official” checkmark on Wednesday to differentiate between paid blue checks and regular blue checks — was “killed” just two hours later by decree of Musk .All this grandstanding about moving fast and breaking things has not resulted in any tangible changes to the functionality of Twitter ; he’s just removed staff and key divisions of the site and, in the process, made the site that much less functional for the people who are already here.It’s clear that he has no real strategy amid this train wreck of a takeover, but at least Musk knows who we should all blame.