Elon Musk, Twitter’s newest and biggest shareholder, is flirting with the most contentious potential feature for the blue bird app: an edit button. His stance on whether the social network should allow users to change tweets after posting them may prove consequential: Musk was named Twitter’s newest board member Tuesday.
On Monday night, Musk, who is also Tesla’s CEO and the current richest man on earth, asked his more than 80 million followers if they wanted an edit button and started a poll to gather responses. While the action may seem innocuous, the tech mogul is known to use polls to guide or foreshadow some of his major decisions. News broke Monday that Musk had purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter, becoming the company’s largest shareholder.
At the time of publication of this article, more than 2.8 million votes had been cast in the poll, with 73.4% voting “yes” and 26.6% voting “no.” The poll will be up for 12 more hours, sothese initial results are far from certain.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced Tuesday that the company would appoint Elon Musk to its board of directors. The news was made public hours after Musk polled people on the platform on whether they wanted an edit button, a feature some Twitter users have wanted for years. Twitter communicated its decision to the Securities and Exchange Commission in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. Musk will serve a term until 2024.
“I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board,” Agrawal said in a tweet. He added: “He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!”
Musk welcomed Agrawal’s announcement and seemingly put an end to the open question as to whether he’ll work to change things at Twitter. The answer is yes.
“Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!” Musk said in a reply to Agrawal.
Besides tweeting out the poll, typos and all, Musk hasn’t said much more about the edit button, a feature that has been coveted by some Twitter users for years. In response to a tweet, naturally, from popular space YouTuber Everyday Astronaut, he did acknowledge the potential issues with rolling out an edit button. The YouTuber, whose real name is Tim Dodd, told Musk that he did want an edit button, but only under two conditions.
“It’s only available for a few minutes, 5-10 mins. And when an edit is made, there’s a small link that shows the edit. This keeps a public record but allows the tweeter the ability to fix a simple mistake and not re-notify their followers with a new tweet,” Dodd wrote.
Musk said that Dodd’s request sounded reasonable. In another reply, where a user asked him to do something about crypto spam bots, the tech CEO called them “single most annoying problem on twitter imo,” appearing open to address the issue.
Over at Twitter, the higher-ups were definitely paying attention to Musk’s tweets, though it’s not really clear whether they were taking him seriously or making fun of him. Less than an hour after Musk posted his poll on the edit button, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal responded with the same text Musk used late last month when he asked users (in another poll) whether the social platform rigorously adhered to free speech.
“The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully,” Agrawal tweeted on Monday.
Twitter product lead Michael Sayman also responded to Musk and pointed him to the company’s tweet on April 1, which said: “we are working on an edit button.” Sayman called the tweet the “official statement” on the matter, but considering the tweet was posted on April Fool’s Day, we have our doubts.
Gizmodo reached out to Twitter on Tuesday morning for official comment on whether the company was working on an edit button but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Before you get excited (or are filled with dread), as smartly pointed out by some folks on Twitter, it should be noted that Musk doesn’t exactly have a good track record with getting things done when he says he will. Twitter has also been historically slow in rolling out features.