July 6, 2022

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Elon Musk’s arrival raises fears amongst some Twitter workers

  • Issues heart on Twitter’s capability to average content material
  • Concern Musk’s tackle moderation may permit trolling to thrive
  • Administration of Twitter, workers make choices every day – spokesperson

April 7 (Reuters) – Information of Tesla CEO Elon Musk (TSLA.O) taking a seat on Twitter’s (TWTR.N) board has some Twitter workers panicking about the way forward for the the social media firm’s capability to average content material, firm insiders informed Reuters.

Hours after the shock revelation this week that Musk, a self-proclaimed ‘free speech absolutist’, acquired sufficient shares to turn into Twitter’s largest shareholder, political conservatives started flooding social media with calls when Donald Trump returns. The previous US president was banned from Fb and Twitter following the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill over issues about inciting violence.

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

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Regardless of Twitter’s reiteration this week that the board doesn’t make coverage choices, 4 Twitter workers who spoke with Reuters stated they had been involved about Musk’s capability to affect firm insurance policies on abusive customers and dangerous content material.

With Musk on the board, workers stated his views on moderation may weaken years-long efforts to make Twitter a wholesome place for discourse, and will permit trolling and assaults. crowd to thrive.

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

MUSK’S INTENTIONS

Musk hasn’t defined what he needs to do as the brand new board member, however he did telegraph his intentions along with his Twitter exercise. Every week earlier than Musk disclosed a 9.1% stake in Twitter, he polled his 80 million followers on whether or not the location upheld the precept of free speech, and the bulk voted “no.”

The staff, who requested to not be named for concern of retaliation, level to Musk’s historical past of utilizing Twitter to assault critics. In 2018, Musk got here underneath hearth for accusing a British diver who helped rescue youngsters trapped in a collapse Thailand of being a paedophile.

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

When requested to remark, a Twitter spokesperson repeated a press release from Tuesday that the board “performs an essential advisory and suggestions function throughout our service,” however operations and choices are taken by administration and workers of Twitter.

“Twitter is dedicated to impartiality within the growth and utility of its insurance policies and guidelines,” the spokesperson stated.

Some workers Reuters spoke to weren’t so certain concerning the firm’s dedication to this.

“I discover it laborious to imagine that (the board) doesn’t have affect,” one worker stated. “In that case, why would Elon desire a seat on the board?”

However different workers Reuters spoke to stated Musk’s involvement may assist quicken the tempo of recent function and product launches, and supply a recent perspective as an energetic Twitter consumer.

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, an worker stated. Certainly, in contrast to Meta Platforms Inc, the place founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls the corporate via a two-class share construction, Twitter has just one class of shares, which makes it extra weak to activists like Musk. Twitter groups usually take into account talk a technique or determination to the board, for instance, the worker stated.

On Thursday, Musk tweeted a 2018 picture of him smoking weed on the Joe Rogan podcast on Spotify, with the caption: “Subsequent Twitter board assembly goes to be on.”

THE RETURN OF TRUMP?

An worker aware of firm operations stated there aren’t any present plans to reinstate Trump. A Twitter spokesperson stated there have been no plans to reverse the coverage choices.

However a veteran auto analyst who covers Musk’s working type at Tesla stated such a transfer may be a matter of time.

“If Donald Trump was actually wealthy, he would have preferred to do the identical factor however he couldn’t afford it. So Elon is doing what Trump would have preferred to do,” stated Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

“I wouldn’t be stunned ‘if Twitter restores Trump’s account now that Elon owns almost 10% of the corporate,” he stated.

Long term, workers stated Musk’s involvement may change Twitter’s company tradition, which they are saying at present values ​​inclusivity. Musk confronted widespread criticism for posting memes that poked enjoyable at transgender individuals and efforts to stem the unfold of COVID-19, and for evaluating some world leaders to Hitler.

A number of workers had been alarmed by the nice and cozy welcome Musk acquired from Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and co-founder Jack Dorsey, prompting them to enter the workforce this week.

“Some individuals mud off their resumes,” one individual stated. “I don’t need to work for somebody (like Musk).”

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Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; extra reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Modifying by Kenneth Li, Aurora Ellis and Bernadette Baum

Our requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.