27 April 2022

Senior Twitter figure says Elon Musk’s takeover is ‘weird to process’

27 April 2022

A senior figure at Twitter said it is “weird to process” Elon Musk’s multibillion-pound takeover of the social media platform.

News of the £34.5 billion takeover this week prompted some to question the future safety of the platform and saw some users threaten to leave.

While Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has hailed the decision to let Mr Musk take the social media platform into private ownership and away from the ad model and Wall Street, others have raised concerns about online safety going forward given the Tesla and SpaceX chief executive’s belief in absolute free speech.

Twitter’s Nick Pickles said he is still processing the Elon Musk takeover (PA) (PA Archive)

Twitter’s senior director of global public policy, Nick Pickles, said he was “still processing” what had happened.

In a comment which sparked laughter during an in-conversation event at Jesus College, Cambridge on Wednesday, he told how he had been off work on holiday at the beginning of the week when the news broke.

He said: “It was weird because I got on the Tube on Tuesday and every front page was a picture of the bird (the Twitter symbol), a picture of, you know, kind of Elon and it’s, I don’t know, it’s weird to process.”

He said the conversation and reaction prompted by the move reminded him that “it’s an incredible privilege to work at a service that has that bigger impact on the world”.

He added: “I’m also obviously like still processing, kind of, what’s happened.

“So I’m just grateful to work at a company that’s this relevant I guess.”

Asked whether it is a good idea for Twitter to be owned by one person, Mr Pickles said “the service is what matters”.

Elon Musk has agreed a £34.5 billion takeover of the tech platform (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Archive)

He said: “There are absolute upsides to not being a publicly traded company, particularly for a service like us that is under political pressure all over the world, that is under pressure to intervene in how people are kind of connecting.”

He added: “For me, it’s like, the service is what matters, and I think, as is naturally the case, there’s lots of hypotheticals this week, there’s lots of kind of people kind of pontificating and speculating on what might happen. Focus on the service, that’s what’s really important.”

When it comes to controversial figures such as Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins being allowed to return to Twitter after being banned, Mr Pickles said the issue for people getting accounts back has not been “figured out” yet.

He said: “What is the journey back for any account? It’s something that I think industry writ large has not figured out.”

He said the issue was the “digital equivalent” of people being in jail for things that are now legal.

He added: “I think it’s not really about any one account. It’s about how do you solve that broader issue of permanently removing people’s access to services is generally-speaking a bad outcome. So I think the question is like, what does the solution to that look like? And I think we’re a long way away from figuring it out.”

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