Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

To save Twitter, Elon Musk should fire himself

By Bhaskar Chakravorti

18 Nov 2022 · 6 min read

Billionaire Elon Musk’s purchase of and arrival at Twitter has turned the global social media company into a raging dumpster fire with significant consequences all around the world. The closest indication of any method behind the madness may be Musk’s Nov. 9 tweet: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.” Even here, Musk may have been overpromising: Twitter’s offices are now temporarily shuttered following mass firings, reported mass resignations, an apparent exodus of advertisers, a new plague of fake accounts, and confusion over future content policies. Many people are horrified by the Musk mayhem, his longtime critics are having an “I told you so” moment, and those inclined to be generous are taking a cautious view of “too early to tell.” Some former employees fear the platform may only have a few weeks to live.

To save Twitter, however, the choice is unambiguous: Musk urgently needs to fire himself. This is not because his opening act has been so chaotic but for deeper structural reasons. If Twitter’s mission is to be, in Musk’s own words, “by far the most accurate source of information about the world,” the combination of Musk’s multiple conflicts of interest and Twitter’s international operations would conspire to kill that mission. For one, Twitter’s global footprint is already on shaky ground. Second, Musk’s own international entanglements make the problem much worse. Third, the business pressures bearing down on the platform will be Twitter’s final nail in the coffin under Musk.

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