Elon Musk criticizes the Twitter CEO and draws a backlash from employees 2022-04-28 00:37:00


Elon Musk who takeover offer for Twitter Inc. Two days ago, he continued to use the site to criticize executives there, culminating in a memo on Wednesday that mocked the chief legal officer’s response to accusations of political bias for the company.

Mr. Musk, who has a massive Twitter presence, with more than 80 million followers, tweets led to online attacks against Vijaya Jade, Twitter’s longtime head of legal, policy and security. Mr. Musk’s criticism escalated despite an agreement as part of the takeover deal not to detract from the company or the people who work there.

On Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted a photo of Mrs. Jade, covered in text that reiterates claims that Twitter has a left-wing political bias. Musk’s followers and others on Twitter quickly retweeted his message more than 20,000 times, and some added racist and sexist messages directed at Ms Jade, including that she should be expelled and she should return to India.

Twitter did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. Musk and Ms. Jade did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Episode determined The tension behind Mr. Musk’s impending ownership One of the most influential social networks in the world. Mr. Musk often directs his fighting style on Twitter to people he doesn’t agree with, which can lead to a squabble with his fans. Twitter executives have argued that minimizing harassment and abuse is the best possible way to ensure that as many users as possible speak freely on the site. Mr. Musk said these efforts have gone too far, and he would prefer it Allow any expressly illegal speech. Mr. Musk’s posts also highlight the difficulties facing Twitter’s board of directors and executives, who operate under the policies and practices that the company’s future owner would disagree with. It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Musk’s tweets posed a risk to the takeover agreement.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal


– / AFP / Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, Twitter employees asked in internal Slack discussions whether Mr Musk’s Twitter activity this week was in violation of the law. terms of acquisition, According to the people of knowledge. People said employees also questioned the silence of former CEO, co-founder and board member Jack Dorsey, who relied on Ms Jade’s judgment to get around thorny content moderation questions. Monday evening, hours after Mr. Musk’s $44 billion deal Take the own company Mr. Dorsey announced support him In a series of tweets, she says among other things that “Elon is the only solution I can trust.”

Mr. Dorsey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After Mr. Musk tweeted criticism of an earlier decision by Twitter to suspend a news publication’s account, a decision that would have fallen under Ms Jade’s oversight, she faced renewed online scrutiny this week. Colleagues rushed to support Ms Jade and urged the company to issue a public statement in response to the tweets, according to employees.

Ms Jade thanked employees internally on Wednesday for their support but said she would prefer passing the news cycle than having the company respond publicly, according to people familiar with the matter. “Allowing this cycle to pass and focusing on the important work we do every day is the best way forward,” Ms. Jade wrote in an internal Slack employee channel reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

About half an hour after her internal message, Mr. Musk posted the meme using Mrs. Jade’s face.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal posted what appeared to be a response to Musk’s tweets without specifically mentioning them: “I took this job to change Twitter for the better, of course right where we need it, and boost the service,” he tweeted Wednesday afternoon. . “Proud of our employees who continue to do the work with focus and urgency despite the noise.”

Vijaya Gad, Twitter’s chief of legal, policy, and security, speaks during the global WSJ Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, in 2019.


Martina Albertazi/Bloomberg News

Mr. Musk’s comments infuriated former Twitter executives. “What is going on here? You are making an executive at the company you just bought the target of harassment and threats,” Dick Costolo tweeted, Who was the CEO of Twitter from 2010 to 2015.

at separate tweet Mr. Costolo wrote: “Bullying is not leadership.”

In the early years of Twitter, the company tried to take more laissez-faire approach to remove content from its platform. “We are the free speech wing of the Free Speech Party,” Costolo said at the 2011 conference, a phrase echoed by other executives on Twitter at the time.

This changed in 2018, after the harassment of many celebrities on the platform, when Twitter executives began to fear that toxic content was discouraging new people from joining and keeping potential advertisers away.

Mr. Dorsey has publicly pledged to reduce abuse and harassment on the platform.

“We have seen abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots, human coordination, disinformation campaigns and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” Mr. Dorsey said in a Twitter post in 2018. They took advantage of our service, or our inability to address it quickly enough.”

The work of writing the policies that dictate what can be allowed on Twitter, and figuring out how to implement them, is largely up to Ms Jade and her team. During his 10 years at the company, she and other Twitter executives received death threats and backlash from terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State, prompting Twitter to provide armed guards at times, according to people familiar with the matter.

Current and former Twitter employees said Mr Dorsey’s lack of public comment shocked them Wednesday because they expected him to take responsibility for the biggest and most contentious decisions that occurred during his tenure as CEO.

The final episode began on Tuesday, when Sagar Ingiti, a right-wing political podcast host, tweeted a screenshot of a Politico article that reported Ms Jade had cried as she sought to reassure Twitter employees about Mr. Musk’s takeover of the company. Mr. Ingeti described Ms. Jade as “the number one advocate for censorship on Twitter”.

Twitter will go private if Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover offer is approved. This step will allow Mask to make changes to the site. Dan Gallagher of the Wall Street Journal explains the changes Musk has proposed and the challenges he might face when activating them. Illustration: Jordan Crans

after an hour and thirty minutes , Mr. Musk replied To that tweet: “Suspending a major news organization’s Twitter account for publishing a true story was clearly incredibly inappropriate.”

Mr. Musk was referring to Twitter’s decision to suspend the New York Post’s Twitter account after the newspaper published articles it said were based on documents obtained from the laptop computer of Hunter Biden, Biden’s son. Twitter cited its policy against posting material that contains personal material obtained through hacking. Dorsey later called the move a mistake and Twitter removed the comment.

The tweets mentioning Ms Gad, along with hateful comments, followed Musk’s response, with some calling her evil and saying she should be fired.

write to Deepa Seetharaman in Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com And Georgia Wales in georgia.wells+1@wsj.com

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