Poll peril: Musk's obsession with asking the public

By: AFP
Published: 11:30 PM, 19 Dec, 2022
Poll peril: Musk's obsession with asking the public
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Polling Twitter users has been key to Elon Musk's journey from fan to owner of the social media platform, but now the non-binding knockabout votes may have cost him his job as CEO.

Musk, who started using the simple yes/no tool at least as far back as 2018, asked users on Monday whether he should step down as boss of the social media firm -- and they replied overwhelmingly "yes".

Here are four more of his most prominent polls.

 - Attacking the media -

Long before Musk owned Twitter, he was using the platform to call out what he felt was sharp practice by the media.

Others might say he was simply trolling journalists.

In one of his first forays into Twitter polling, he pitched an idea in May 2018 to create a "media credibility site" that would rate individual journalists.

"Thinking of calling it Pravda," he added in a trademark sarcastic aside.

Almost 90 percent of the 680,000 voters backed his plan, though some commenters were less impressed.

"Please stop," wrote the journalist Shannon Stirone in the comments underneath the poll, accusing him of spreading distrust.

 - Reinstating Trump -

One of the most controversial decisions made by Twitter's former owners was to close the account of former president Donald Trump over his role inciting the December 6 attack on US Congress.

Last month, Musk weighed into the debate.

"Reinstate former President Trump," he wrote in a poll that attracted more than 15 million votes -- 51.8 percent approving the motion.

Like most of his polls, it was the result most people felt Musk had wanted.

The former president described the poll as "very overwhelming" but was less clear on whether he would return to the platform.

"I don't see it because I don't see any reason for it," he said.

Trump's account, @realdonaldtrump, remains mothballed with his last tweet dated January 8, 2021.

- Crypto casino -

Musk has also dabbled in cryptocurrencies -- labelled the Wild West of finance by several regulators.

In May last year, he tweeted several times about a hitherto worthless currency, dogecoin, which was created as a joke.

The highpoint was a Twitter poll he ran asking if Tesla should accept dogecoin as a form of payment.

More than 78% of the nearly 4 million participants said yes.

Around this time, the price of the coin spiked from around 5 cents to around 50 cents, before falling back again.

Tesla's website still claims to accept the cryptocurrency for certain products, but it is not clear whether anyone has ever used the volatile token to buy any Tesla products.

- Tesla sell-off -

"Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock," he tweeted last November, asking users whether he should do it.

The poll garnered 3.5 million votes with 58 percent saying he should.

The tweet had dramatic real-world consequences with Tesla stock slumping after the poll result came through.

Also, regulatory filings reportedly showed at least part of the sell-off had been arranged weeks before the Twitter poll, throwing into doubt Musk's much-vaunted democratising instincts.

The Wall Street Journal reported that regulators opened an inquiry into the sale over suspicions of insider trading by Musk and his brother, Kimbal.

Categories : Topics, Science & Tech
AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.