(CNN Business) — With his decision this Saturday to restore former President Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account nearly two years after it was permanently suspended, Elon Musk could plunge the social network into deep chaos, and that could be it.
In the weeks since Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the influential social network has lost so many employees that users and employees have raised concerns about its ability to continue operating. According to Musk, it has also suffered a “huge decline in revenue” due to an increasing number of brands pausing advertising amid uncertainty about the direction and stability of the platform.
Trump’s return won’t help any of the problems.
The company’s servers are “currently undergoing a stress test by @elonmusk”, Tweeted Sriram Krishnan, a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and a former Twitter employee who works with Musk to run the company. (He also noted that Trump’s return comes a day before the start of the World Cup, a high-traffic event for the platform.)
Also this Saturday, NAACP President Derrick Johnson sent an urgent warning to companies doing business with Twitter: “Any advertiser who is still funding Twitter must cease all advertising immediately.”
Some advertisers have previously indicated they may freeze spending on the platform if Trump is reinstated, potentially dealing another blow to a company that generates nearly all of its revenue from advertising.
Prior to purchasing Twitter, Musk had repeatedly stated that he would reinstate Trump’s account and reconsider the platform’s permanent restrictions, as part of his maximalist vision of “free speech”. But Musk also tried to reassure brands and users that he would set up a “content moderation board” to determine whether Trump and other banned account holders would return to the platform.
There is no indication that this group was set up, much less involved in the decision to reinstate Trump. Instead, Musk tweeted a poll on Friday, asking his supporters to vote on whether or not to reinstate Trump’s account. “Yes” won, and Musk tweeted this Saturday: “The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei”, in Latin, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.
If Musk has any strategy behind the decision and its timing, he’s betting that Chaos is a good show.
Through all the mass layoffs and staff departures, the controversial payment verification option being introduced and withdrawn, major brands and celebrities pulling out of the platform, and widespread criticism of his inflammatory comments, Musk has repeatedly -Bar insisted that Twitter is Reaching an all-time high in the number of users.
Now add trumps to the equation.
Throughout his time as president, Trump was the most high-profile and often the most controversial user on the platform, which forced Twitter to consider how it should handle a sitting world leader who has been rife with threats of nuclear annihilation. mocks North Korea (they were allowed) and encourages a violent pro-Trump mob to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 (which got him suspended).
But Trump also made Twitter the center of the famous media and political world. His tweets made headlines, moved markets and shaped the agenda in Washington. Celebrities, world leaders, and a long list of critics and supporters often engage directly with Trump on Twitter. The world could not look away.
It is unknown whether Trump will tweet as often, or if he will now that he has his own network, Truth Social. And if he does, his tweets won’t get the same attention as when he was acting president. But Musk’s decision to back Trump also came days after Trump announced he would run for president again, raising the possibility that Trump’s comments and his tweets, if he publishes them, would So they will not be ignored.
Musk is clearly still in the early days of setting up his so-called Twitter 2.0. In addition to shuffling staff through subscription products and competing to bolster Twitter’s results, it has yet to formalize its policies on bans and suspensions.
But one answer seems clear: Musk bet that if users can’t walk away from the platform, neither can advertisers. And by keeping enough tabs on the site, you may be able to find new ways to make money from them.
All you have to do is find a way to keep the lights on.