Elon Musk asked Twitter users Sunday whether he should step down as head of the the social media platform he bought earlier this year, pledging that he would “abide by the results of this poll.” Monday morning, Musk got his answer.
By a 15-point margin, respondents to Musk’s unscientific Twitter poll said he should resign from his post atop the social media giant.
The final results came in early Monday morning, with 57.5 percent saying “Yes,” he should step down, and 42.5 percent answering “No,” he should stay in the CEO role.
The declaration comes as Musk has faced widespread criticism less than two months after he bought the company, gutted its staff, drove away major advertisers and saddled it with billions in debt — all while stoking one controversy after another.
Musk hasn’t said yet whether he’ll follow through with his promise to step down. Musk would remain the owner of the platform, so it’s unclear what the change could mean in practice.
He bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October after several failed attempts to get out of the deal. His tenure has been marked by tumult and chaos — just this past week, he drew fire for banning several journalists for allegedly “doxxing” him after they reported on an account that tracked the whereabouts of his private jet, before quickly reinstating them after yet another Twitter poll. And over the weekend, he banned users from promoting other social networks on Twitter, or linking to them, a move he again quickly reversed after a storm of criticism.
In the run-up to his purchase, and since he’s taken over, Musk has championed a commitment to “free speech” and said Twitter needed to take a more hands-off approach to moderating user behavior. He’s made several moves to relax the platform’s controls over posting, including no longer enforcing its Covid-19 misinformation policy, as well as reinstating previously banned accounts, including that of former President Donald Trump.
While the platform has been mired in controversy — and some users have decided to leave — many in Washington have stayed on, including lawmakers and official government accounts, in part because there isn’t another social media platform with the same kind of user base replete with Washington insiders, operatives and media figures.
Since Musk put together billions in financing to buy Twitter, he’s seen his personal fortune decline considerably, losing his title as the world’s richest man as the price of Tesla shares have steadily declined.
And Musk himself said soon after cutting more than half of Twitter’s staff that he might have to file for bankruptcy in order to repay the $13 billion in debt he borrowed for the Twitter purchase.