Elon Musk, known as the richest man in the world finally bought Twitter for $ 44 Billion, after tortuous negotiations that required the intervention from the courts. He reportedly attempted to back out of the deal later but to no avail. Since he took over ownership of Twitter, the social media platform has been dogged by one controversy or another. As a social media platform, it is natural that it cannot be everything to everyone every time. We must recognise that social media platforms serve as melting pots of different opinions, views, beliefs, thoughts, everything and anything. It is therefore inevitable these would clash and cause controversies. Among many reasons for buying Twitter, Elon Musk claims that his belief in free speech was one the driving forces.
Twitter had banned people like Donald Trump, following his role in the January 6th Insurrection on Capitol Hill. Other prominent but controversial personalities were also banned for what many described as hate speech, discrimination and all the divisive ethos on their Twitter pages. One of the first things, in keeping with his proclaimed belief in free speech was to ensure that Donald Trump was reinstated. He did so by public voting. The irony is that this is the same man who said that Twitter was “full of bots and fake users” but now happy to let those same users make all the Twitter big decisions.
In his defence, he said that “the difference between my opinion of bots and fake users back then, versus now, is that I am confident the majority of bots and fake accounts are currently aligned with my own personal views, so the results will be okay”. Elon has vowed that he won’t be letting bots and fake users guide the direction of his $44 BN investment. You just did brother, and if anyone is looking for an ego farm, look no further. There goes the credibility of the vote to reinstate Donald J. Trump right there.
His ruthless approach to work ethic, which saw many Twitter employees sacked or resigned since his takeover has made Twitter a synonym for organised chaos. It is no wonder that many see his take over as a disaster and that despite his self-anointed proclamation as an advocate of free speech, he has gone to considerable lengths to silence people on his platform. His hard core approach to work makes him look like a modern day slave driver, as most of his employees chose to leave than agree to his terms of employment. Many have compared Elon Musk to a dictator, clamping down on anyone that spoke out against him, while claiming to be an advocate of free speech. This has prompted many to describe Twitter that the platform had “a really positive and open culture and one of free speech and transparency”. However, that was pre Elon Musk. Since his take over, Celebrities and many people from all walks of life have been deactivating or closing their accounts in droves. The consequence has seen many advertisers rethinking or withholding the advertising funds. Before we proceed, perhaps a snippet at Elon Musk’s background could shed some light about his work ethic.
In an interview with The Rolling Stones magazine in 2017, Elon said this about his father Errol, that “Almost every crime you can think of, he has done. “Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of he has done”. Errol was in the military in apartheid South Africa, and he once boasted “don’t tangle with guys who are in the military in S/Africa”. During Elon’s school days, Errol described South African schools with a culture where kids were bullied and set upon for being intelligent. At a very young age, Elon liked spending time in adult company, and was fascinated with and read books about people like Napoleon and Alexander the Great. Elon even had Napoleon’s last willing testament written in French.
Elon is popularly known for his Tesla cars, but such a fascination with cars and anything automotive started at an early age. His father had nice cars including Porches, Mercedes, Ferraris, and Maserati. He would join his father in fixing parts or taking sections apart and refixing them. He was fixated at a very early age. Elon Musk’s fixation was driven by his Asperger’s syndrome, which Errol described in short, that Elon took no for an answers. Elon was persistent like a dog to a bone, and would focus continually on something or an idea, and that he would not stop until he got a resolution to that issue. He was very tenacious from a very young age. Those who know him may not be surprised by his “success” and could possibly account for the kind of work ethic he tried to bring to Twitter.
If this is anything to go by, Elon’s rise gives credence to the notion that hard work breeds success. Elon Musk would have wanted to bring the same work ethic to Twitter, just like he has successfully done with Tesla. Unfortunately, this is “social media”, and as the phrase implies, it is a social construct, which is built on the foundations of an unwritten social contract between users and advertisers. Social media platforms rely on revenue from advertisers. Advertisers choose the sites to advertise in based on the numbers, and those numbers are determined by its followers and users. It goes without saying that the relationship between a social media platform and its users is like that between fish and water. With his new broom approach to Twitter, it is not surprising that the news that many users are leaving Twitter took its toll. Report indicates that Elon has since lost $ 100 BN and counting.
As the self-proclaimed High priest of free speech, one of the most controversial decisions was to reinstate Donald Trump’s Twitter Account. Judging by Trump’s potential and stature to divide opinion, Elon chose sides and marginalised a whole section of society. You wonder how such a move sits with a business acumen, when you consider that successful businesses try to appeal to everyone every time. By choosing to bring Trump back, irrespective of the process that reportedly involved public voting, Elon just marginalised all those who did not see eye to eye with Trump, thanks to his divisive behaviour. But this is where Elon Mush has failed to the correct reading from the barometer of society and thermometer of public opinion.
We know that Trump has a sizeable following on social media. Some called it MAGA. That is why he started his own social media site called “Truth Social” when he was banned by Twitter. Unfortunately for Elon, he got his timing wrong. He reinstated Trump at a time when America and especially his Republican following was giving their verdict on Trump, shortly after the party’s underwhelming performance in the Midterm elections. The majority of Trump backed candidates lost their respective elections, an indication that Trump’s appeal is on the wane. His appeal is so bad that Republicans are now pleading with him not to go near the Republican candidate, Herschel Walkers’ campaign booth during the runoff in Georgia next month. Republicans are not only blaming Trump for the midterm failures but are now beginning to treat him like bad news for the party. With Ron DeSantis seemingly outdoing Trump in the favourability polls for the 2024 Republican nominee, Elon Musk could not have chosen a worse time to reinstate Trump even if he tried.
In his infinite wisdom, Elon failed to take another important piece of the jigsaw in the Twitter conundrum. Since his reinstatement, Trump is yet to post a single tweet on Twitter. Trump created his “Truth Social” following his ban from Twitter. On the invitation of Elon, would you expect Trump to abandon his pet project Truth Social, where he can post everything and anything “uncensored” to come back to a similar enterprise where every breath he talks would be subject to scrutiny? We know that Truth Social is not making money and reportedly running at a loss. Trump’s return to Twitter would mark the death knell for Truth Social. By coming back to Twitter, Trump would effectively be admitting defeat, and that Twitter is superior to Truth Social. That would haemorrhage what ever followers he has on Truth Social. For the sake of fairy tales, let us assume that Trump decides to re-join Twitter. Would he like to be seen as the man who was rescued by Elon Musk? With his boundless ego, I would hazard a guess, that Trump would rather be a king in hell than be a slave in heaven……. not literally though, you get my drift.
So, despite their differences in background, both Trump and Elon have one common denominator, EGO. Both drink ego as oxygen for breakfast. Will Twitter have enough room to accommodate these two ego-bursting personalities? Trump would not bow to the likes and dislikes of Elon Musk, and neither would
Elon. Elon may have been an Einstein in “Teslanomics”, but has he bitten more than he can chew? Elon is explicitly taking political sides already, which could have implications for any business venture, because he runs the risk of marginalising a whole section of the society. With Trump potentially having a face off within the Republican Party, will a return to Twitter be a distraction or blessing in disguise. Don’t bank on it.
Relationships never die natural deaths. They are murdered by ego, attitude and ignorance. Ego makes some people see themselves high. They just need to let the “E” go and be free. Some people are poor. All they have is money.