Elon Musk’s record on delivering on the deluge of pledges he has made as “chief Twit” is less than ideal. In fact, it’s downright abysmal.
It was just about a year ago that it was revealed the capricious billionaire had become Twitter’s largest shareholder. Weeks after that disclosure, Musk said that he would take the company private with a $44 billion purchase.
Since then, Musk has made a number of wild changes and promises pertaining to Twitter. Some of those promises have pertained to shiny new features that would supposedly roll out on the website. Others have pertained to how he will govern the platform. And still other promises have been to his employees.
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Under Musk’s erratic ownership, the platform has seen its fortunes rapidly melt away. Advertisers have fled en masse, the site has suffered significant outages, hate speech has thrived, and thousands of employees have been forced to leave the company.
In typical Musk fashion, he has made so many commitments that it can be difficult to keep track of them. And that’s worked in his favor, given that he has failed to fulfill the mountain of pledges he has made. As we approach the one-year mark of Musk’s foray into Twitter, here are some of the significant vows he has made and failed to live up to:
► Decisions by poll: After Musk drew backlash for banning links to other social media platforms, he vowed, “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.” Since then, he has implemented a host of policy changes without soliciting feedback from users.
► Stepping down: Musk asked users in December whether he should step down as head of Twitter, vowing to “abide by the results” of the poll. Users voted Musk out, but he has declined to step down for now, saying that he doesn’t believe anyone else can adequately run the company.
► Maximal free speech: Musk repeatedly talked about Twitter being a home for free speech. But on a number of occasions, he has brazenly censored posts on his platform. Musk banned several prominent journalists late last year (he later restored their accounts, but forced them to delete the tweets that he didn’t like) and removed content from the BBC after India’s government demanded it. Musk has also kept a ban on Alex Jones and exiled Kanye West from the platform for rule violations, which really doesn’t appear in the spirit of the maximal free speech he purports to support.
► Digital town square: When Musk purchased Twitter he declared the platform a “digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” But this week he announced that non-paying users won’t even be able to vote on the site and will have their voices minimized. Musk also said that he will only promote the tweets of users who pay him.
► Verification: Musk said that as Twitter owner he would work on “authenticating all humans” on the platform. But Musk has moved to do the opposite by stripping notable public figures who refuse to pay him of their verification badges, while also simultaneously verifying users who are impersonating others.
► Open-sourced algorithm: Musk has repeatedly promised that he would open source Twitter’s algorithm. He did so when he announced his acquisition of the company. And on February 21, he said it would happen “next week.” It has still yet to occur. Musk now claims it will happen on March 31.
► Moderation council: When Musk took over as Twitter owner, he said that he would appoint a content moderation council that would advise on all such decisions. The council was never appointed and Musk later indicated he would not actually create such a body.
► Shadow ban feature: Musk promised in December that he would release a feature showing users whether they have been “shadowbanned.” Months have gone by with no such feature available.
► Severance: Musk boasted about offering laid off employees three months of severance, which he said was more than what was legally required of the company. Months after being let go, many employees were only offered one month of pay in exchange for agreeing to various terms and conditions.
When I reached out to Musk on Wednesday morning with questions about his failed promises, he didn’t respond. But I did receive an auto-reply poop emoji from the email@example.com email address, a feature Musk recently said he would implement.
It’s perhaps one of the only pledges he has actually delivered on.