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Elon Musk no longer joining Twitter’s board of directors

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk will no longer be joining Twitter’s board of directors as previously announced, but the billionaire remains the social media platform’s largest shareholder (Susan Walsh/AP)
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk will no longer be joining Twitter’s board of directors as previously announced, but the billionaire remains the social media platform’s largest shareholder (Susan Walsh/AP)

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk will no longer be joining Twitter’s board of directors as previously announced, but the billionaire remains the social media platform’s largest shareholder.

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal tweeted the news, which followed a weekend of tweets from Mr Musk suggesting possible changes to Twitter, including making the site advertisement-free. Nearly 90% of Twitter’s 2021 revenue came from ads.

“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective on 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning that he would not be joining the board,” Mr Agrawal wrote in a reposted note originally sent to Tesla employees.

“I believe this is for the best.”

Mr Agrawal did not offer an explanation for Mr Musk’s apparent decision, although he dropped one major hint.

The Twitter board “believed having Elon as a fiduciary of the company, where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders, was the best path forward”, he wrote.

Mr Musk posted a few cryptic tweets late on Sunday, including one showing a meme saying, “In all fairness, your honour, my client was in goblin mode,” followed by one saying “Explains everything”. Another, later tweet was of an emoji with a hand over its mouth.

He now has a 9% stake in Twitter, raising questions about how he might try to reshape the social media platform as Twitter’s biggest shareholder.

Mr Musk’s 80.5 million Twitter followers make him one of the most popular figures on the platform, rivalling pop stars like Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga.

Technology summit in Dublin
Elon Musk has more than 80 million followers on Twitter (Brian Lawless/PA)

But his prolific tweeting has sometimes got him into trouble, such as when he has used it to promote his business ventures, rally Tesla loyalists, question pandemic measures and pick fights.

In one famous example, Mr Musk apologised to a British cave explorer who alleged the Tesla CEO had branded him a paedophile by referring to him as “pedo guy” in an angry — and subsequently deleted — tweet.

The explorer filed a defamation suit although a Los Angeles jury later cleared Mr Musk.

He has also been locked in a long-running dispute with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his Twitter activity.

Mr Musk and Tesla in 2018 agreed to pay 40 million dollars in civil fines and for Mr Musk to have his tweets approved by a corporate lawyer after he tweeted about having the money to take Tesla private at 420 dollars per share.

That did not happen but the tweet caused Tesla’s stock price to jump. His lawyer has contended that the SEC is infringing on Mr Musk’s free speech rights.

Mr Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” and has said he does not think Twitter is living up to free speech principles — an opinion shared by followers of Donald Trump and several right-wing political figures who have had their accounts suspended for violating Twitter content rules.