Musk has a fresh chance to make up for self-goals
Flawed as it was, Musk’s poll among Twitter users that asked him to step down as CEO also spelt a chance he should grab to reset this platform. It may even serve his own agenda better
It was dramatic, even for a businessman as given to spectacle as Elon Musk. He held a poll among Twitter users on whether he should resign as the platform’s chief. As a referendum, it was also deeply flawed. The electorate was composed of those he asked directly if he should step down “as head" of the online ‘public square’ he bought almost eight weeks ago for $44 billion. “I will abide by the results of this poll," Musk promised his 122.3 million followers. Despite a glaring bias of self-selection inherent in this format, his result tweet on Monday displayed a ‘yes’ from 57.5% of the 17.5 million plus users who voted. Last month, a similarly biased poll held by Musk on whether former US President Donald Trump’s account should be restored got 52% ayes. This was duly dismissed by critics as a pale attempt to pardon its none-too-subtle role in the mob attack of 6 January 2021 on Washington’s Capitol Hill, a symbolic beacon of democracy, in the guise of defending free speech. Both these dubious bows to public opinion may seem whimsical, like Musk’s ‘chief twit’ tomfoolery, but also speak of an agenda that extends well beyond making money—into the risky zone of wielding influence. If so, it offers Twitter’s owner a splendid chance to drop that plot, hit the reset button, and let it evolve by a laid-down set of rules, not someone’s whim.