Outrageous is good, but boring is bad, Elon Musk told Twitter employees Thursday in a video chat.
A copy of Musk’s video call with employees was posted by Project Veritas. The chat marked the first time Musk had spoken directly with Twitter employees since he agreed to purchase a company, a deal that remains uncertain amid Musk’s expressed concern for the number of fake accounts on the platform.
During the call, Musk addressed internal issues, noting that he is not a fan of remote work, said costs at Twitter need to be trimmed while revenue needs to increase and that he wants a staff of employees who are productive and glad to be at work every day.
During the session, Musk spoke about his goals for the platform.
Musk noted that Twitter allows for unfiltered communication.
“And, you know, I think that that actually is maybe one of the biggest reasons for using Twitter is so I communicate directly to people and not through the lens of the media. And, you know, I think there’s obviously an important role for the media to play. But as anyone knows who reads the newspaper, it’s coming through quite a negative lens,” he said, later adding, “And then when you read about something — newspaper is a dated term, in the news — where you actually personally understand the situation, how many times has the media gotten it right? I would say almost never. Not never, but almost never.”
Musk said that as far as what’s allowed, “So I think people should be allowed to say pretty outrageous things that are within the bounds of the law, but then that doesn’t get amplified, it doesn’t get, you know, a ton of reach.”
“We have to strike this balance of allowing people to say what they want to say but also make people comfortable on Twitter, or they simply won’t use it,” he said.
Musk touched on his concerns about fake accounts on the platform.
“Well, there’s definitely an ongoing challenge with Twitter with bot accounts and spam accounts. There’s quite a lot of crypto scams on Twitter. It’s gotten better, but there’s still a fair bit of that. There are also people where they’re not necessarily bots, but they might be operating … you know, one person’s operating hundreds of accounts and trying to make them look like individuals, but they’re not,” he said.
Musk said he needs to get a better handle on how Twitter can become profitable.
“Twitter’s revenue is going to be subscription, advertising — I think payments would be an interesting thing to do, as well. But all of those things are only relevant as a function of how many unique humans are on the system. So that’s my biggest concern,” he said.
Musk said Twitter needs to strike a balance between freedom and responsible content moderation.
“As I said earlier, really, I think people, we should allow people to say what they want, post what they want, within the bounds of the law. But that’s different from them being able to reach people who don’t want to be reached with that content. So if that content is offensive to people, they will, those people will simply stop using Twitter,” he said.
“So it’s important to make Twitter as attractive as possible. And really, that means not showing people content that they would find hateful or offensive, or even frankly content they would find boring is not good. We don’t even want them to see boring content,” he said.
Musk said there is more to moderation than being inoffensive.
“I mean, to be clear, the standard is much more than not offending people. The standard is, should be, that they’re very entertained and informed. Like, you could not offend someone because of boring them, and show a bunch of content that they don’t find interesting, and then they will not use the service, or they will use it less,” he said.
Musk also told employees that he considers himself a political centrist.
“Well, my political views, I think, are moderate, at least as would be, you know, as if you said, like, what is the center of the normal distribution of political views in the country, I think that’d be pretty close to the center. You know, I’ve voted Democrat, every election until this recent one this week. And then I voted for Mayra Flores, who is Republican. She’s Mexican American, and I thought a good candidate and worth voting for,” he said.
Musk said he was “in favor of moderate politics. But I’m allowing people who have relatively extreme views to express those views within the bounds of the law. So that’s, you know, as I said publicly, I think if, let’s say, the far left 10 percent and far right 10 percent were equally upset on Twitter, then that would probably be a good outcome.”
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