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INDIRECT MESSAGE

Elon Musk gave Twitter employees a vision full of contradictions

Elon Musk's face on a phone with Twitter logos
Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo
Elon Musk finally talked to Twitter employees.
  • Scott Nover
By Scott Nover

Emerging tech reporter

Published

Elon Musk finally addressed employees of Twitter today (June 16), nearly two months after agreeing to buy the company for $44 billion.

Musk has openly waffled about whether he intends to complete the acquisition, even though he lacks a way out of the deal, and has openly criticized Twitter since agreeing to buy it, even targeting specific employees. His all-hands call did little to clear up those issues or quell staff fears about content moderation policies, the direction of the company, and if they will be forced to work from Twitter offices.

In fact, Musk repeatedly contradicted himself throughout the question-and-answer session. Here’s how:

Twitter should be more like TikTok

Musk told Twitter employees the app should be more like TikTok, the mega-popular social video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and famous for its powerful personalized algorithm. “We could hone Twitter in the same way [as TikTok] to be interesting,” he said, according to The Verge.

But Musk has criticized Twitter’s algorithmic feed, urging users to opt into a reverse-chronological feed, instead, which is the opposite of how TikTok algorithmic “For You” feed works. “You are being manipulated by the algorithm in ways you don’t realize,” he said about Twitter on May 14.

Musk also said he wants Twitter to be like WeChat, the Chinese “super app” for messaging, payments, and shopping. Without specifying how he plans to do that—Twitter has very few e-commerce functions right now—Musk said he wants to build a $15 million payments business by 2023.

Twitter employees should work from the office

Musk called into the meeting “unusually late,” according to The New York Times, and appeared to be videoconferencing from his cell phone with spotty reception and poor audio quality from what looked like a hotel room.

He then answered numerous questions about whether Twitter employees would be allowed to continue to work remotely—as a quarter of the company’s staff reportedly does.

Twitter is not Tesla, he said, where it’s “impossible” to build cars from home. He said Twitter employees who are “exceptional at their jobs” can continue to work remotely, but said his “bias is strongly toward working in person.” Musk, who, again, video-conferenced into the meeting, said that remote work reduces the “esprit de corps” of a company.

Twitter should verify users, but let people use pseudonyms

Since buying Twitter, Musk has ranted about the number of bots using the service and has even asserted what he thinks is his legal right to terminate the deal over this data.

“Authenticating all humans” on Twitter is a priority, Musk said, though he also said people should be allowed to be pseudonymous on the app. It’s still unclear how this authentication process would work and whether users can shield their identity from Twitter, other users, or both.

Musk wants Twitter to build a “better, long-lasting civilization”

Musk also talked about how he wants Twitter to help build a “better, long-lasting civilization” with 1 billion users. But, let’s not forget: This is the guy who tweets jokes about breasts and marijuana all day.

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