Musk meets Twitter staff: 'Freedom of reach,' new ideas on human verification

Elon Musk Visits Germany

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A highly anticipated Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) employee meeting where billionaire and presumptive buyer Elon Musk faces worker questions is under way, and Musk wasted no time in saying the media isn’t representing his $44 billion buyout deal accurately.

Most articles he sees about the deal are negative, Musk said, according to Bloomberg reporting.

“Some people use their hair to express themselves. I use Twitter,” Musk told the employees in addressing an opening question about why he pursued the company, according to the report.

Taking on the topic of free speech and moderation, Musk reportedly said that users should be allowed to say “pretty outrageous things” so long as they’re legal. “Freedom of speech and freedom of reach,” he pledges.

And for those looking for a potential Musk vision for Twitter (TWTR), Musk had praise for WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent Holdings (OTCPK:TCEHY). Users there are so dedicated that “You basically live on WeChat,” The New York Times reports Musk said.

Moving to the key topic of the day – Musk’s putting the deal “temporarily on hold” as he pressed for information about fake/bot accounts – Musk has reiterated that any algorithm Twitter uses to moderate or control spam should have its code open-sourced, Bloomberg reports.

Twitter might try having users pay to be verified as human/real, he says, potentially using a tool like Twitter’s existing Twitter Blue subscription. Verification could also be used to rank content on the platform, he said, according to Bloomberg.

He’s outlining a goal to grow the company’s user base to 1 billion active users.

One flaw Musk is pointing out with the platform now: It’s not the platform of choice for those preferring to create video, and other platforms are monetizing content in a way that Twitter can’t, Bloomberg reported.

Taking questions about work-from-home – particularly in light of his directives to Tesla and SpaceX employees to spend 40 hours a week in the office – Musk reportedly says “excellent” contributors could still be productive remotely.

And potential layoffs were a key employee question; Musk says Twitter’s revenue needs to be higher than costs and that layoffs will be conducted based on performance reviews, Bloomberg said. “The company needs to get healthy.”

Musk was set to handle (previously submitted) questions for about an hour, in a session moderated by Twitter’s Chief Marketing Officer/Head of People Leslie Berland, according to media reports.

What had been slow traffic on an employee channel designed to gather questions turned into an overnight flood of queries, Bloomberg reported.

The spread between Twitter’s current price and Musk’s committed deal price still looks like a gulf: Twitter stock (TWTR) is at $38.06 a share, while Musk has committed to buy at $54.20 a share – a hefty 42% premium to the current price.

Developing story …

Harry Byrne

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