Six issues we discovered from Elon Musk interview


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Watch: Elon Musk’s surprising BBC interview… in 90 seconds

Elon Musk has defended how he runs Twitter in a uncommon and wide-ranging interview with the BBC.

The world’s second richest man was questioned for practically an hour by the BBC’s expertise correspondent James Clayton at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.

Listed below are six issues we discovered.

1. He denies hate speech on Twitter has spiked

Mr Musk refused to just accept there was extra hateful content material on the platform since he took over.

Chatting with the BBC earlier this yr, some Twitter insiders have argued that the corporate is now not in a position to shield customers from trolling, state-coordinated disinformation and little one sexual exploitation, following lay-offs and adjustments below proprietor Mr Musk.

In March, Twitter stated it eliminated 400,000 accounts in a single month alone to assist “make Twitter safer”.

In an effort to assess Mr Musk’s claims absolutely you’d want two issues which we do not have at current – entry to Twitter’s information earlier than and after his takeover and, crucially, a transparent understanding of how he defines misinformation and hate speech.

There isn’t a blanket definition of hate speech below American regulation, which is usually rather more permissive than different nations due to the primary modification to the US Structure.

2. He voted for Joe Biden

Near half the nation voted for Mr Trump within the final US election, Mr Musk stated, however he added: “I wasn’t one in all them. I voted for Biden.”

In one other a part of the interview, he defended ending a Twitter ban on Mr Trump who had been eliminated in 2021 when the platform accused him of inciting violence.

3. He says Twitter is thrashing the bots in conflict on disinfo

Mr Musk claimed his efforts to delete bots – automated accounts – had decreased misinformation on Twitter after his takeover.

“My expertise is there may be much less misinformation reasonably than extra,” he advised our reporter.

Some outdoors consultants disagree. A research from Newsguard which tracks on-line misinformation – and there are fairly a number of different research alongside the identical strains – discovered that engagement with fashionable, misinformation-spreading accounts spiked after Mr Musk’s takeover.

Within the week following his acquisition of Twitter, the preferred, untrustworthy accounts loved an virtually 60% enhance in engagement within the type of likes and retweets, in keeping with the survey.

The BBC has additionally independently analysed greater than 1,000 previously-banned accounts that had been let again on Twitter after Mr Musk’s takeover, and located that since being reinstated, over a 3rd of them had unfold abuse or misinformation.

This included false anti-vax claims, misogyny and anti-LGBT rhetoric, and the denial of the 2020 US election consequence.

4. He is towards banning TikTok

Mr Musk says he would not use probably the most downloaded app within the US however he’s towards any strikes to shut it down.

The US is contemplating a ban as a result of safety issues over TikTok’s Chinese language possession. Another nations have banned it from the telephones of presidency workers.

“I am typically towards banning issues,” stated Mr Musk, though he says a ban would profit Twitter as a result of it could imply extra individuals spending time on his platform.

5. He would flip down $44bn for Twitter

Mr Musk initially claimed within the interview that if somebody supplied to purchase Twitter proper now for what he paid for it, he’d refuse.

If he did promote, he stated it could be extra vital to discover a purchaser who cherishes the “fact” reasonably than how a lot they’d pay as a result of, as he says: “I do not care in regards to the cash.”

However is that true? Keep in mind, he desperately tried to again out of the deal.

Mr Musk stated Twitter had simply months left to stay when he took over and was being run like a non-profit.

Twitter’s prices have been outstripping the quantity of income it was producing. In its final full-year outcomes revealed earlier than Mr Musk took over, complete gross sales hit $5bn in 2021 however prices and bills reached $5.5bn. The truth is, it has solely had two worthwhile years since 2012.

He reckons Twitter is now near breaking even. No surprise – sacking 6,500 staff does are likely to lighten one’s prices.

However he has additionally been proactive find methods to spice up gross sales via issues reminiscent of charging Twitter customers for “blue tick” verification.

So sure, Twitter is likely to be nearing breaking even now due to drastic cost-cutting. However the query is whether or not it could possibly maintain that path to profitability and make the corporate price that $44bn price ticket.

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Kara Swisher: ‘Musk the one who triggered the ache’

6. He’ll again down on how BBC is labelled

Mr Musk confirmed he would change the BBC Twitter label from “authorities funded” to “publicly funded” after final week’s row, and a number of other hours after the interview this variation was made.

The BBC had objected to the unique description, stressing the company’s independence. It’s primarily funded by the British public via a TV licence payment.

In Wednesday’s interview, Mr Musk stated: “If we use the identical phrases because the BBC makes use of to explain itself, that presumably can be OK.”

The licence payment made up about 71% of the BBC’s complete earnings of £5.3bn in 2022 – with the remaining coming from its business and different actions like grants, royalties and rental earnings.

The BBC additionally receives greater than £90m per yr from the federal government to assist the BBC World Service, which predominantly serves non-UK audiences.

Reporting by Actuality Verify crew, BBC Monitoring and Dearbail Jordan, enterprise reporter

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