Elon Musk, one of Twitter’s most consistently vocal critics, has joined the company’s board of directors. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted the news this morning.
“I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board!” Agrawal wrote. “Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board.”
The appointment isn’t a complete surprise, given that Musk acquired about a 10 percent stake in the company last month. Turns out dropping a few billion on a social media company makes you a shoo-in for a position of power.
Musk quickly shot off an ecstatic-sounding reply to Agrawal’s announcement, teasing “significant improvements to Twitter” in the not-too-distant future.
A long time coming — Musk may have just purchased his $3 billion stake in Twitter last month, but his interest in how the site is run goes back much further than that. The Tesla CEO has been critical of Twitter on Twitter for years now — and, with more than 80 million followers, his complaints are seen by many, many eyes.
Most recently, Musk has been stuck on the idea that Twitter’s policies impede the principles of “free speech.” This is a talking point that many right-leaning politicians have used in recent years to criticize social media moderation — a conversation that’s led to the creation of alternative social media platforms like Parler, which allows users to post whatever violent or nonsensical content they’d like. Musk believes he should be allowed to post Hitler jokes on the internet to his heart’s content.
Musk’s full-throated criticism of free speech on the internet can be traced back to his ongoing tussle with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Back in 2018, Musk tweeted a stupid joke about taking Tesla public at a share price of $420 — a move the SEC considered misleading to investors. As part of that case’s settlement, Tesla agreed to vet Elon’s tweets before allowing him to post them; the SEC also made it clear that it would keep watch over Musk’s public internet presence.
Nearly four years later, Musk’s vendetta against the SEC continues unabated. The whole ordeal has only served to harden Musk’s belief that those in power are working to silence him.
So...now what? — Given his immense stature in the Twitterverse, Musk’s presence on the board will likely be a towering one. Musk is known for being fast and loose with his ideas for change. Already he’s polling Twitter users for their opinions on future site features.
Twitter’s early formative years effectively ended when founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from his post late last year. Though the site continues to grow, its vision for the future has never been less clear. Newer features consistently overshadow the site’s general purpose; its inability to properly mitigate harm through moderation becomes more obvious with each passing day. Elevating Musk’s opinions on this mess could simply add more confusion to the site’s governance.
Jack, for his part, says he’s “really happy” Musk is on Twitter’s board. It’s difficult to say whether or not his assertion that Musk “cares deeply about our world” is genuine or satirical.