Elon Musk tells Twitter staff to expect job cuts in first direct address
Prominent political users of Twitter include ex-US president Donald Trump, who was permanently banned from the platform in January 2021 following his use of Twitter to incite a riot at the US Capitol building that left four dead.
Mr Musk has previously said he would reinstate Mr Trump’s account, describing the site as “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”.
The Tesla boss described himself as having “moderate politics” and said he had always voted for the Democratic party until very recently. This week he floated the possibility of starting a “super moderate super PAC” that would raise money for centrist candidates in the US.
Other questions from Twitter staff focused on Mr Musk’s ongoing tussle with Twitter management over the number of fake accounts on the site.
Twitter has publicly admitted that 5pc of its 229m active accounts are bots which are not operated by humans. Mr Musk has challenged this number, prompting an offer from chief executive Parag Agrawal to give the billionaire access to the ‘firehose’ of every single tweet as it is posted so he can work it out for himself.
Mr Musk told staff on Thursday: “It needs to be much more expensive to have a troll army.”
Critics have suggested the fake account row is an attempt by Mr Musk to drive a lower acquisition price. Mr Musk has so far secured around $30bn of equity commitments towards the $44bn acquisition.
Described as “rambling” by one Twitter staff source who spoke to Reuters, Mr Musk closed the hour-long call by saying he has seen “no actual evidence” of alien lifeforms.
Although Twitter’s board has recommended shareholders accept the deal, Mr Musk said it was “on hold” in mid-May, thought he later said he “remained committed” to it.
Twitter’s share price remained mostly flat during Thursday’s call, rising by 1pc after Mr Musk was asked about his political views.
Tesla’s share price dropped 7.5pc, reflecting investor fears that Mr Musk will liquidate more of his 17pc stake in the electric car-maker to raise money to complete the Twitter buyout.