Elon Musk, the tech titan and self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” has recently named Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter. This is the same Linda Yaccarino who, just last month, was grilling Musk over his tweets and content moderation policies.
Here’s the kicker: Yaccarino firmly believes that advertisers should play a bigger role in shaping Twitter’s policies. Can you believe that? The influence of big corporations potentially dictating the rules of free speech on one of the world’s largest social media platforms!
Yaccarino, a seasoned ad executive from NBC Universal and former chair at the World Economic Forum, is stepping into a challenging environment. She’ll have to mend fences with advertisers who left Twitter following Musk’s aggressive restructuring, which, by the way, included mass layoffs and a significant reduction in the trust-and-safety team in charge of content moderation.
At a recent marketing convention, the divide between Musk and Yaccarino became clear as day. Yaccarino expressed concerns about the spread of extremism and hate speech on Twitter, suggesting that giving advertisers a say could attract more investment. But Musk held his ground, stating that the freedom of speech is paramount. He even argued that if protecting free speech meant losing advertising dollars, then so be it.
Yaccarino proposed reviving Twitter’s “influence council,” a meeting of marketing executives from top advertisers. Musk, however, warned that such a move could spark a public backlash. He’s got a point there. If the public perceives that their views are being influenced by a select group of marketers, they’d be right to feel upset.
The most interesting part of their debate was about Musk’s own tweeting habits. Yaccarino asked Musk if he would agree to “be more specific and not tweet after 3:00 a.m.” to which Musk responded humorously, “I will aspire to tweet less after 3:00 a.m.”
In essence, this is a classic debate between free speech and corporate influence. It will be vital to see how Twitter operates with Yaccarino at the reins.