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Yaccarino's Challenge to Musk: Policies and Tweets That Shaped Twitter's CEO Selection

Yaccarino's Challenge to Musk: Policies and Tweets That Shaped Twitter's CEO Selection

Yaccarino's Challenge to Musk

Elon Musk announced on Friday that Linda Yaccarino of NBC Universal will be the new CEO of Twitter. Yaccarino is a long-time advertising professional who helped NBCU integrate and digitize ad sales. Her new goal will be to entice advertisers that have abandoned Twitter since Musk bought it for $44 billion last year.

Musk has fired thousands of Twitter employees, largely disbanded the trust-and-safety team in charge of keeping the site free of hate speech, harassment, and misinformation, and blamed others for exaggerating Twitter's issues, notably with traditional media outlets that he sees as dishonest "competitors" for ad money.

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The two had an on-stage talk in April at a marketing event in Miami Beach, Florida. Here are some salient points from their conversation:


Although both sides drew clear lines in the sand, the Miami conversation was polite. Yaccarino pushed the topic toward problems of content control and the apparent rise of hate speech and extremism since Musk took over the site on a few times. She framed her inquiries in terms of whether Musk might make marketers feel more at ease on the platform.

She once questioned Musk about his willingness to allow advertisers to "influence" his plans for Twitter, claiming that doing so would drive them to increase their investments in "product development, It's crucial to moderate content and ads (i.e., "the influence").

Musk disconnected her. It's acceptable to specify where on Twitter you want your advertising to show and not in other areas, but it's not acceptable to forecast what Twitter will do," he said. And if doing that results in us losing advertising revenue, then be it. However, the right to free speech is essential.

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Yaccarino brought up the subject again a few seconds later, asking Musk whether he wanted to resurrect the company's "influence council," a once-regular gathering of marketing executives from some of Twitter's big advertisers. Musk resisted once more.

I would be concerned about provoking a public reaction, he remarked. Because I think the public will be outraged if they perceive that a small handful of American marketing professionals are responsible for shaping public opinion.

Musk went on to acknowledge the importance of input and recommended that Twitter should strive for a "sensible middle ground" that guarantees the public "has a voice" while advertisers focus on the mundane business of enhancing sales and brand perception.

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Musk didn't waste the chance to sell the gathering marketers on Twitter's new approach to address offensive posts, which the firm had unveiled the day before. Musk referred to the policy as "freedom of speech but not freedom of reach," explaining it as a technique to reduce the prominence of hate speech and other issues without actually eliminating rule-breaking tweets.

Yaccarino attempted a swing. "Does it also apply to your tweets? Early in the morning, Musk has a history of tweeting inaccurate and occasionally offensive things.

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Musk confirmed this but said that his tweets may also be labeled with "community notes" that offer more context to tweets. He also stated that his tweets do not receive any preferential treatment from Twitter.

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