Twitter users have voted overwhelmingly to give Elon Musk the boot as head of the social media platform in a poll conducted by the CEO himself.
In a backlash over the company’s latest policy change, 57.5 percent of the 17.5 million votes cast were for “yes” while 42.5 percent were against the idea of Musk stepping down, according to the poll the billionaire launched on Sunday evening.
“Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll,” Musk tweeted.
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
“As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it,” Musk added in a later tweet.
In another post, he acknowledged users’ dissatisfaction with his policy changes and said: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”
Musk conducted his poll after Twitter’s announcement that it would no longer allow the “free promotion” of other social media platforms. Twitter said on Sunday that users would no longer be allowed to post usernames and links to accounts for a number of other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon.
The sudden banning of accounts that promoted rival social media platforms sparked retaliation even among longtime supporters.
The founder of the startup fund Y-Combinator, Paul Graham, who supported Musk in his deal to buy Twitter, said he will take a break from Twitter and asked followers to find a link to his Mastodon account on his personal web page.
Mastodon is a social network that has been touted as a Twitter alternative.
Twitter suspended Graham’s account after his post but later reinstated it.
The policy change was the latest in a series of decisions by Twitter that has generated blowback. It has also been criticised for suspending the accounts last week of more than half a dozen journalists who report on Musk.
Musk, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, suspended the journalists after accusing the media of endangering his family by disclosing information about his location.
Musk made the claim after revising the site’s doxxing rules to ban accounts that track private aircraft, including his private jet.
Flight tracking data collected by the United States Federal Aviation Administration is public information and shared online by private websites such as FlightAware and Flightradar24.
Twitter reinstated most of the suspended accounts over the weekend after Musk asked users to vote on lifting the suspensions immediately or in seven days.
Since taking over Twitter in a $44bn deal in October, Musk has become a lightning rod for debate around free speech, online safety and the role of social media in democracy.
Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, has pledged to open up the platform to a greater diversity of views and tackle what he has characterised as the platform’s liberal bias.
Critics have accused Musk of allowing hate speech to flourish on the platform and censoring criticism he does not like.
Concern about Tesla
Meanwhile, Tesla investors are worried that Twitter is distracting Musk, a self-confessed “nanomanager”, at a critical time for the world’s largest electric carmaker.
Tesla shares have lost nearly 60 percent of their value this year. On Monday, they gave up some of their premarket gains but still opened about 2 percent higher at $152.90.
Analysts at Oppenheimer downgraded Tesla, saying the negative sentiment on Twitter could linger long term and affect Tesla.
Musk said last month that he had too much work on his plate, would reduce his time at Twitter and eventually find a new leader to run the social media company.
However, replying to one Twitter user’s comment on a possible change in CEO, Musk said on Sunday “There is no successor.”
“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive,” he said.
Musk, who was seen at the football World Cup final in Qatar on Sunday, has not yet responded to the results of his Twitter poll. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren raised concerns that Tesla’s board of directors has failed to meet its legal responsibility to protect Tesla in the aftermath of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.
There is “way too much uncertainty”, Tesla investor Matthew Tuttle of Tuttle Capital Management said, adding that he planned to sell most Tesla shares that he bought on Friday.
“A CEO is supposed to make decisions that are in the best interest of a company and shareholders, not based on what random people on Twitter think,” he said.