20th December 2022 – (New York) Elon Musk has tweeted for the first time since more than 10 million people voted in favour of him stepping down as Twitter’s chief executive, saying that only paid Twitter Blue subscribers will be able to vote in future policy-related polls.
On Sunday, Musk asked Twitter users whether he should step down as the head of the company, promising to abide by the results of his poll. When the poll closed on Monday, 57.5% said he should step down.
Normally a prolific user of the platform, Musk did not tweet in the immediate hours after the poll. His silence was finally broken when he responded with “Interesting” to multiple suggestions that the results of the poll were skewed by fake accounts.
Replying to another user’s suggestion that “Blue subscribers should be the only ones that can vote in policy related polls”, Musk said: “Good point. Twitter will make that change.”
Twitter Blue is a paid-for subscription that allows anyone to buy a blue tick verified badge for their account.
As the majority owner of the privately held company, no one can force Musk out, but a series of baffling decisions over the past few days has caused even some of his closest backers to break ties with him.
A decision to ban an account that tracked the location of his private jet last week was followed by a mass suspension of critical journalists who reported on the ban. That led in turn to an exodus of some engaged users to other social networks, chiefly its decentralised competitor Mastodon, whose own account was banned for posting a link to the jet tracker’s account on the rival platform.
On Sunday, Musk reacted by banning all links to other social networks, including Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook, and even minor platforms such as Nostr, used by the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Linktree, a homepage creation tool favoured by influencers.
That ban was rescinded by the end of the day, after a Twitter poll from the Twitter Safety account, with Musk saying: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”
Musk has a history of using Twitter polls to rubber-stamp major decisions, selling a tenth of his Tesla holdings after one poll in 2021, restoring Donald Trump’s account after a second last month and reinstating a number of suspended accounts after a third. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted after the Trump poll.
However, in many cases, he has given the impression of already having decided on the outcome before posting: he had already announced a sale of his Tesla holdings, for instance, long before he put it to a vote, and his plan to reinstate Trump had been discussed since before he even bought Twitter.
The idea of stepping down as chief executive had also been hinted at long before the Twitter poll was published. On 16 November, he told a Delaware judge that he planned to reduce his time at Twitter and “find somebody else to run Twitter over time”.