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 almost an hour by the BBC’s know-how correspondent James Clayton at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.
Listed below are six issues we realized.
1. He denies hate speech on Twitter has spiked
Mr Musk refused to simply accept there was extra hateful content material on the platform since he took over.
Chatting with the BBC earlier this 12 months, some Twitter insiders have argued that the corporate is now not capable of defend customers from trolling, state-coordinated disinformation and baby sexual exploitation, following lay-offs and modifications beneath proprietor Mr Musk.
In March, Twitter stated it eliminated 400,000 accounts in a single month alone to assist “make Twitter safer”.
So as to assess Mr Musk’s claims totally you’d want two issues which we do not have at current – entry to Twitter’s knowledge earlier than and after his takeover and, crucially, a transparent understanding of how he defines misinformation and hate speech.
There is no such thing as a blanket definition of hate speech beneath American regulation, which is mostly far more permissive than different international locations 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 considered one of 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 battle on disinfo
Mr Musk claimed his efforts to delete bots – automated accounts – had decreased misinformation on Twitter after his takeover.
“My expertise is there’s much less misinformation quite than extra,” he instructed our reporter.
Some exterior specialists disagree. A examine from Newsguard which tracks on-line misinformation – and there are fairly a couple of different research alongside the identical traces – discovered that engagement with standard, misinformation-spreading accounts spiked after Mr Musk’s takeover.
Within the week following his acquisition of Twitter, the most well-liked, untrustworthy accounts loved an virtually 60% enhance in engagement within the type of likes and retweets, in response to 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 in opposition to banning TikTok
Mr Musk says he does not use essentially the most downloaded app within the US however he’s in opposition to any strikes to shut it down.
The US is contemplating a ban resulting from safety issues over TikTok’s Chinese language possession. Another international locations have banned it from the telephones of presidency staff.
“I am usually in opposition to 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 will be extra necessary to discover a purchaser who cherishes the “reality” quite than how a lot they’d pay as a result of, as he says: “I do not care concerning the cash.”
However is that true? Bear 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 had been outstripping the quantity of income it was producing. In its final full-year outcomes printed earlier than Mr Musk took over, complete gross sales hit $5bn in 2021 however prices and bills reached $5.5bn. Actually, it has solely had two worthwhile years since 2012.
He reckons Twitter is now near breaking even. No marvel – sacking 6,500 staff does are inclined to lighten one’s prices.
However he has additionally been proactive find methods to spice up gross sales by way of issues resembling charging Twitter customers for “blue tick” verification.
So sure, Twitter may be nearing breaking even now due to drastic cost-cutting. However the query is whether or not it may possibly maintain that path to profitability and make the corporate value that $44bn price ticket.
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 modification was made.
The BBC had objected to the unique description, stressing the company’s independence. It’s primarily funded by the British public by way of 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 could be OK.”
The licence payment made up about 71% of the BBC’s complete revenue of £5.3bn in 2022 – with the remaining coming from its business and different actions like grants, royalties and rental revenue.
The BBC additionally receives greater than £90m per 12 months from the federal government to assist the BBC World Service, which predominantly serves non-UK audiences.
Reporting by Actuality Examine staff, BBC Monitoring and Dearbail Jordan, enterprise reporter