It is a more than mixed record for the governance of Twitter by Elon Musk, who arrived at the head of the social network at the end of October after having bought it, a little in spite of himself finally, for the sum of 44 billion dollars.
Massive dismissals, controversial decisions, dysfunctions… The weeks follow and come together for the platform, which lives to the frantic pace of tweets from its new boss. And the year 2023 should not be easy either.
Will leave, will not leave?
For now, all eyes are on Elon Musk, and his possible withdrawal from the direction of the social network. On December 19, the American billionaire had invited Twitter users to comment on his fate. 57.5% of the 17 million people polled finally answered that they were in favor of his abdication. Musk had pledged to “stand by the results of this survey”.
A few days later he has indicated to be in search ofsomeone pretty crazy” to succeed him, specifying that he would always play a role at Twitter, taking the lead of the teams “software and servers”. In mid-November, he had already made it known that he planned to “reducehis time at Twitter and finding a replacement. “I don’t want to be the CEO of any company.”, he had declared during a lawsuit concerning his remuneration at Tesla.
If nothing is done yet, CNBC has learned that this research was initiated even before Musk submitted the idea for consultation on his Twitter account.
Be that as it may, the two months spent at the head of the social network have raised concerns among regulators and policymakers in Europe. Last month, Arcom (ex-CSA) even sent a letter to Twitter’s European headquarters in Dublin asking about its ability “to maintain a safe environment for the users of its service” and ask him if he was still “able to meet the obligations imposed by law”, particularly in terms of “moderation of illegal content and practices”.
And the Digital Services Act (DSA), the new European rules on the subject which are due to come into force soon, should solidify this regime of obligations, as well as the sanctions which accompany it in the event of breach – a fine of up to 6% of annual worldwide turnover for very large platforms. Recently, the arbitrary suspension of journalists’ accounts on Twitter has caused outrage in Europe. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon”, declared the European Commissioner for Values, Véra Jourová.
The year 2023 could also see Twitter facing several fines for breaching the GDPR. Last week, the Irish Cnil decided to open an investigation after the leak of personal data of 5.4 million users which had led to the sale on the dark net of this information this summer. The same day, a hacker claimed to have got hold of the data of more than 400 million Twitter users thanks, again, to a vulnerability and invited Elon Musk to pay 276 million dollars, otherwise this database would be resold to other, potentially malicious actors.
The sky is darkening at Tesla
Finally, the behavior and escapades of the new boss of Twitter have had an impact on the Tesla company, which he also owns. The electric car maker has lost almost 70% of its stock market value this year, after a very strong performance in 2021.
Investors are worried to see Musk favor the social network, while the businessman did not hesitate to sell Tesla shares on several occasions to finance the takeover of Twitter. Added to this is an uncertain global economic context, which has already prompted the American company to carry out several waves of layoffs. A new one would also be planned for the first quarter of 2023, believes the specialized site Elektrek.
Not to mention that part of Tesla’s valuation is linked to the autonomy of its vehicles, which has experienced some setbacks. According to statistics from the US Federal Highway Safety Agency, Tesla tops the list when it comes to the most crashes involving driver assistance technology.
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