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Twitter votes for Musk to step down as CEO after he put his leadership on the line in an online poll

December 19, 2022, 8:06 AM UTC
Updated December 19, 2022, 3:14 PM UTC
Elon Musk
Musk is putting his leadership of Twitter up to a vote after a week of hastily imposed rules and account suspensions.
Patrick Pleul—Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk has asked Twitter users whether he should step down as the CEO of the social media company. And they have spoken.

In a Twitter poll that closed at 6:20 a.m. ET Monday, 57.5% of the 17.5 million votes cast backed Musk’s resignation as CEO.

“Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll,” Musk tweeted on Sunday evening, with voting open for 12 hours. 

Musk had promised to find a new CEO for Twitter after he took over in November. Yet he has remained closely involved in the social media platform’s decisions, announcing policy changes and new products.  

Musk on Sunday evening suggested that he hadn’t been successful in finding someone to take over. “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” he tweeted

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The social media company reportedly no longer has a communications department.

Rule reversals

On Sunday evening, Twitter also seemingly reversed a policy change from earlier in the day.

Earlier that day, the social media platform banned users from linking to its competitors, like Facebook, Instagram, or Mastodon. “Going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.

The rule change led to a wave of account suspensions, including Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham.

Musk later apologized for the new rule and pledged in the future to survey Twitter users before making any policy change. Twitter restored Graham’s accounts and deleted both the web page describing the new rule and its announcement tweet.

The backtracking on sharing links to competitors is the second reversal for Elon Musk and Twitter in the past week. On Thursday evening, Twitter suspended the accounts of several tech journalists who Musk claimed had revealed his real-time location, which the Twitter CEO said was a security threat. Media organizations and governments blasted the decision, with the United Nations warning that Musk and Twitter had set “a dangerous precedent.”

Musk later surveyed Twitter users asking when he should unban accounts suspended for “doxxing.” After a majority of surveyed users said that Twitter should lift the suspensions immediately, the social media company restored several of the banned accounts.

Musk has often uses Twitter polls to survey possible policy changes on the platform. The Twitter CEO earlier launched polls to ask whether the social media company should offer a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts, and to reinstate the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Stay in line”

Musk’s previous Twitter polls have attracted millions of votes, and his survey on Sunday evening was no exception, with 17,502,391 cast.

It also attracted its share of tongue-in-cheek comments.

Twitter users exhorted others to “stay in line,” referring to the common advice shared by U.S. campaigns on Election Day reminding voters that they can cast their ballots even after polling stations close, so long as they remain in line.

Whether or not Musk remains as CEO, Twitter faces several problems. Advertisers have left Twitter amid the chaos of Musk’s takeover, leading to a drop in revenue. The social media company is also saddled with $1 billion in annual interest payments, after Musk borrowed $13 billion to fund his takeover.

Twitter “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May,” Musk tweeted on Sunday evening.

Update, Dec. 19, 2022: This article has been updated with the results of the poll. Also, an earlier version incorrectly said the account of the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell was still suspended; it has been restored.

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