Musk apologized after putting the policy in place, writing: “Going forward, there will be votes for major policy changes. I’m sorry. Won’t happen again.”
He then launched a Twitter survey, surveying users on whether he should resign. Musk had followed previous polls, despite them being unscientific and unrepresentative.
“Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will be following the results of this poll,” he wrote. He added shortly after: “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because you may get it.”
Should I resign as head of Twitter? I will follow the results of this survey.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 18 December 2022
Respondents leaned heavily toward “Yes” in Musk’s poll, indicating that Musk should step down, after nearly an hour of voting: 58 percent of more than 3 million votes were for him to hand over the reins. The measurement was due to expire on Monday morning before the stock market opened. The value of Tesla’s stock – the source of much of Musk’s net worth – has recently plunged. Investors have said Musk’s move away from Twitter will improve Tesla’s prospects
Musk’s sudden reversal came after Twitter said earlier in the day that it would begin suspending accounts that link to “prohibited platforms” such as Facebook and Instagram if those accounts are “used for the primary purpose of promoting content on another social platform,” according to the announcement. Sunday.
The Policydated this month and tweeted Sunday afternoon, said tweets promoting accounts on some sites could be removed if users encourage their Twitter followers to join them elsewhere.
“At both the tweet and account level, we will remove all free promotion of prohibited third-party social media platforms,” the policy states. It lists several examples of such social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and Truth Social, such as former President Donald Trump co-founded.
Musk’s ownership of Twitter — which he bought in October for $44 billion — has thrown the site into turmoil. He ousted the company’s executives and installed a team of loyalists, laid off more than half of its employees and rolled back Twitter’s content moderation. He has engaged in misinformation as the site’s owner and quickly rolled out new and confusing changes, free of controversy and alarming advertisers, some of whom halted consumption on the site.
His sudden and sometimes arbitrary decisions have rattled many of Twitter’s core users and employees, but also some of his own supporters who pushed his ownership bid rooted in a “free speech” driven approach.
As early as Sunday, Musk appeared to lose the support of some who had supported his leadership on Twitter over the new policy.
George Hotz, a software developer whom Musk hired for an internship at the company after he tweeted enthusiastically about the business mogul’s takeover, tweeted a link to his Instagram account on Sunday evening.
“If it’s forbidden to say this is forbidden, this is not a place I want to be anymore. It is so far from freedom of speech,” he wrote in a tweet.
That was a far cry from just weeks ago, when Musk issued an ultimatum to Twitter employees saying they had to commit to an “extremely hardcore” pace to build the new Twitter.
“This is the attitude that builds incredible things. Let all the people who don’t want greatness leave,” Hotz had written.
Meanwhile, Twitter users criticized the suspension of Paul Graham, who had spoken highly of Musk’s leadership but also promoted his Mastodon handle on Twitter, screenshots on the site showed.
“This is the last straw,” he wrote, according to screenshots posted on the website. Graham’s account was suspended shortly after.
That prompted hordes of users, including National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, to weigh in. “This is bad policy and should be reversed,” he wrote in a tweet.
The moves put Musk on the defensive, and he appeared to respond to the backlash, a rare move for the head of Twitter since he took over in October.
“Paul’s account will be restored soon,” he wrote in a tweet.
Twitter has cut most of its public relations team since Musk took over the company in October, and Musk did not respond to an email list with questions about the new rule earlier in the day.
Musk, the billionaire owner of Tesla and SpaceX, has recently suspended and reinstated a number of high-profile journalists who he said had violated Twitter’s rules.
Musk rejects some reporters on Twitter. But their companies never left.
In the weeks since Twitter’s sale closed, Musk has scaled back enforcement of many of the site’s former policies regarding hate speech and misinformation, while in some cases turning to unscientific polls to make decisions, such as re-instating former President Donald Trump.
The new policy banning links to some other social media sites follows many prominent Twitter users promoting their alternative accounts, often expressing the view that staying on Twitter could become unsustainable as Musk overhauls the platform.
On Sunday, the company’s announcement led to debate about whether the move could create legal challenges for Twitter.
“This is the clearest statement of weakness I have ever seen from a major US technology platform, and a transparent statement of anti-competitive intent that a GC would set himself on fire to prevent (if anyone had that job at Twitter)” tweeted former head of security at Facebook, Alex Stamos, uses an abbreviation for “general counsel”. He now directs the Stanford Internet Observatory, “a research, teaching and policy program focused on information technology abuse,” according to its website.
In addition to linking to Facebook, Instagram and Truth Social, marketing to social media sites Mastodon, Tribel, Post and Nostr is restricted under Twitter’s new policy announced earlier Sunday. Third-party link aggregators such as linktr.ee and lnk.bio are also prohibited. It is not permitted to list a handle on social media without a URL.
Twitter said that a first violation of this policy can range from requiring the deletion of a tweet to temporarily locking an account. An account may be suspended if the breach is in the bio or account name, the company said. Subsequent violations of the guidelines may result in permanent suspension.
Twitter’s abrupt suspension of several high-profile journalists last week, including one from The Washington Post, came as Musk claimed they had shared “basically assassination coordinates” for him and his family — an apparent reference to tweets about the platform suspending an account using public flight data to track Musk’s private flights. Twitter allowed several of the journalists to return to the platform on Saturday.
Musk also temporarily suspended, then reinstated, another Post reporter this weekend.
“Again, the suspension occurred without any warning, process or explanation — this time when our reporter was simply seeking comment from Musk for a story,” Washington Post managing editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement Sunday. “Post journalists should be reinstated immediately, without arbitrary conditions.”
On Sunday, Musk was at the WC final in Qatar and tweeted posts from the match.
Cat Zakrzewski contributed to this report.