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“Vox Populi Vox Dei,” a tweet from Elon Musk which embodies his stepping down as CEO of Twitter. The eccentric billionaire’s decision came on Dec. 20 in response to a Twitter poll he set up to see if he should step down as Twitter’s CEO. The results showed that 57.5% of the 17 million who answered were in favor of him stepping down. Musk, in response to the poll, tweeted “I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” While the identity of the next CEO is still unknown and possibly undecided, there should be certain values and actions Musk should look for in his successor or successors to ensure that the “town square of the internet” reaches its full potential.

In acquiring Twitter, Musk had a variety of goals for the platform, from increasing the number of users to 931 million to quintupling the revenue from the platform by 2028. Among these goals has been a wider plan to make Twitter an everything app — a vision that makes Twitter a one-stop shop for news, shopping and payments. Although this goal for the platform is highly ambitious, it creates a framework to build off of for the future of Twitter and its executives.

With such a large vision for the platform, Musk should first look at the fundamentals of Twitter’s successes and failures before attempting a full push toward his grand plan of creating an everything app. Building on the smaller aspects of Twitter could be the determining factor between Musk achieving his goals and improving the platform and Twitter becoming the next MySpace. When looking back on past successes, Musk should first take a deep look at the user base of Twitter.

Twitter, like any other social media platform, exists because its users generate content and the platform generates revenue from selling ad space and, sometimes, selling user information and personal data. Since Musk has taken control of the platform, he has reported, despite Twitter not officially publishing their user numbers, that users on the site are at an “all time high,” proving his dedication to one of the most essential parts of the platform.

Alongside its users, Twitter also has had successes with the accessibility of news and other world events for users. This has become another part of Twitter that Musk has looked to strengthen. Musk has championed the use of Twitter as the main hub for people to receive information about the World Cup, for example. Although Musk has been able to bring forth many successes to the platform, other policies enacted by him and prior Twitter executives haven’t been as successful.

One of Musk’s major actions, which was overwritten the same day, was the banning of links to other platforms on Twitter. Although this action made Twitter mutually exclusive to itself, it also cut Twitter off from the rest of the internet, which upset the majority of users.

A key factor that Musk and the heads of Twitter did not consider was Twitter’s current place within the ecosystem of the internet. As of right now, Twitter serves as an auxiliary social media platform, which content creators on other platforms as a means to communicate with others and promote their content on other social media platforms, such as YouTube and Twitch, where they can gain greater revenue. While Twitter still supplies some revenue to its largest content creators, Twitter should recognize that, even if it becomes a main source of revenue for a creator, it cannot bar its users from the wider internet ecosystem that benefits everyone in it. 

Alongside potentially cutting off greater user engagement, Twitter has also shown failures by some users, which caused backlash for their alleged barring of information. Musk has also faced similar backlash for banning the journalists covering ElonJet, a Twitter user (who was also banned) that Musk claims violated Twitter’s doxxing rules. Although Twitter has guidelines for banning users, executives within the company have displayed some power in determining which users get banned on the site without needing to abide by the rules in Twitter’s terms of service.

Accounting for the successes and failures of Twitter so far, the next head or heads of Twitter should look for greater transparency and understanding of the internet as they look to grow user-retention and first-time users. In order to first reinforce the success that Twitter has already had, the next leader of Twitter should look to innovate how the platform is used. This innovation should be more than just copying other sites as well, a trap that Facebook and Instagram have fallen into.

Along with increasing its users, Twitter should continue to market itself as a thoroughfare of the internet, tying major events to the platform itself, making it synonymous with everyday use on the internet. 

In looking to fix failures within the site, the future head of Twitter should have a greater understanding of the internet’s unofficial ecosystem and know how to improve Twitter’s standing within it. Although there is no clear answer for how this can be achieved, making it a desirable place for content creators to base their content on is a major part of doing so, which involves greater income for their creators. 

Another major part of fixing failures on Twitter is its problem of unmoderated power. In order to solve this problem, the board of directors, as opposed to a singular CEO, needs to come to the forefront. By having multiple people make executive decisions on the platform, the ability of a single individual to impose their will on users will weaken. On top of this major decision, having more transparency with content moderation and control is important to stop decisions that may harm the network. 

Though Musk may have already decided on his successor or may take many more months to consider, he should account for more than just a singular goal. By reflecting on what has been done and what can be done by the next leaders of Twitter, Musk can account for what’s most important for the platform and its users, and what needs to be done in order to make it as he calls, the digital town square of the internet.

Tom Muha is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at tmuha@umich.edu.