Elon Musk sat down for a riveting interview with Tucker Carlson this past week and it was a fascinating look at the insights of one of the most successful businessmen on the planet. Musk discussed everything from the future of AI to his own hardline approach to running Twitter.
At one point during his conversation, Musk confirmed to Carlson that Twitter staff had been reduced by 80% since the time he took over full control. Amazingly, he said the social media giant’s operations have been smoother since cutting out so many people.
“It turns out you don’t need that many people to run Twitter,” he observed. He compared this venture to operating Tesla and SpaceX by saying it’s hard to build cars – and harder to launch them into orbit – but since the foundation of Twitter has been laid, there’s less need for a huge number of employees.
He noted that the product development line over time was “pretty much a flat line” and asked the obvious question of, well, “So what are they doing?”
“It took a year to add an edit button that didn’t work most of the time,” he laughed. He added that responsiveness of the system has increased by the same percentage of employees let go – about 80%.
Musk went on to mock the past iteration of Twitter as nothing more than a “glorified activist organization.”
However, Musk really laid out his future vision for the $44 billion investment by claiming Twitter should be, and is by his own estimates, the best source of news for people. He said he rarely reads any so-called mainstream outlets and is mostly informed by what he sees in his feed.
In short, Musk’s goal for the company is to make it the “least trustworthy place on the internet” while seeking to “try to get the truth to the people.” Judging by what the New York Times and CNN put out, that mantle ought to be fairly accessible.
Take a look as Musk takes a hammer to the deceptive practices of corporate media and unveils his outlook for the future of the news in general and Twitter specifically:
In earlier segments of the clip, Musk lamented that media organizations had resorted to “pushing headlines that get the most clicks” regardless of “whether those headlines” were accurate or not.
In so doing, and as anyone who has read a newspaper or turned on a cable show notices, news became less “truthful and accurate.”
Musk also went into the psychology of the practice. Yes, media is motivated by money, but it’s also harnessing the “instinctual negative bias” in the human population.
From an evolutionary standpoint, Musk observed, certainly not justifying, that negative news is more important to remember and cited the elementary examples of knowing where a predator was or where a tribe that wanted to kill another’s tribe was located. These instances are of life or death.
For comparison, the positive news of where a bush with berries might be was good to know but didn’t carry the same immediacy.
Unfortunately, corporate media weaponized these innate defense mechanisms to “get a rise out of people” and the feedback loop of interest, clicks, and revenue subsequently generated more of the same.
Musk also pointed out that in the connected age of the 21st century, there is also a lot more access to negative news. Before, we would have known what was happening in our village and been limited to that bad news. Now, he says, the media can ask “What’s the worst thing that happened on earth today?” and mine for more and more stories.
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