Elon Musks rejection of a Twitter board seat capped a streak of roller coaster developments on his ties to the platform – Copyright AFP Indranil MUKHERJEE
Elon Musk’s rejection of a Twitter board seat frees him to buy greater stock sway over his preferred social media platform and dodge obligations to promote its best interests, experts warned Monday.
News last week that the controversy-courting Tesla boss had become Twitter’s largest shareholder sparked a roller coaster of developments that ended with the platform’s CEO saying Musk had walked away.
Close watchers of the firm speculated about what could come next, but saw potentially ominous signs in the world’s richest person’s intentions regarding Twitter.
“This now goes from a Cinderella story with Musk joining the Twitter board and keeping his stake under 14.9 percent, helping move Twitter strategically forward, to likely a ‘Game of Thrones’ battle between Musk and Twitter,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors.
Musk’s deal to join the board included an agreement to keep his share in the company under 15 percent.
But now, he can continue to amass stock and push for change without having to play nice with Twitter board members, said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart.
“Everyone seems to think Musk wants a bigger part of the company than the board would let him have,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.
“He would never have followed the rules, it doesn’t suit him,” she said of Musk joining the board.
Musk fired off a series of barbs at Twitter over the weekend that have since vanished.
The tweets included ideas for the platform, such as giving blue authentication check marks to paying Twitter Blue subscribers and turning the company’s San Francisco office into a homeless shelter because employees don’t use it.
Possible scenarios now include Musk trying to force his will on Twitter, or even push to sell the company, said Ives.
Musk could also decide the game is over and shift focus to his many other endeavors, such as electric cars, space exploration and even linking human brains to computers, Ives added.
– Critic or conquerer? –
A tech world star with more than 81 million followers on the microblogging platform, Musk last week disclosed a purchase of 73.5 million shares — or 9.2 percent — of Twitter’s common stock.
Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal had announced that Musk would be joining the board, describing him as “a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need.”
Musk himself tweeted that he was “looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!”
Musk’s appointment to the board was to be contingent on a background check and a requirement that he would have to act in the best interests of the company once appointed, Agrawal said in a statement.
The only response from Musk on the announcement of his rejection of the seat has been a smirking emoji, posted on Monday.
Musk’s reversal of position regarding the board came after he tweeted asking whether the social media network was “dying” and to call out users such as singer Justin Bieber, who are highly followed but rarely post.
He recently conducted a poll about a long-desired edit button at Twitter and once quipped in a tweet that the company should remove the “w” from its name.
“It seems like Musk has all of these ideas that he is pulling out of a hat,” Milanesi said. “It is clear that he does whatever he wants to do.”
And while the serial entrepreneur has a devoted cadre of fans, having millions of Twitter followers doesn’t mean he knows best how to make money from the unique one-to-many messaging platform, she added.
“There really is room for Twitter to grow its subscription revenue and advertising beyond what it is today, so perhaps Musk sees this as an investment,” Greengart said.
“Or perhaps he is just doing it for the ‘lolz,’” he added, referring to internet slang for making a joke at someone else’s expense.
New Report Shows That Young Users are Increasingly Turning to TikTok for News Content
Amid ongoing concerns about its data gathering processes, and its possible linkage to the Chinese Government, TikTok’s influence continues to grow, with the platform now a key source of entertainment for many of its billion active users.
And it’s not just entertainment, TikTok is also increasingly being used for search, with Google reporting earlier this year that, by its estimates, around 40% of young people now turn to TikTok or Instagram to search for, say, restaurant recommendations, as opposed to Google Search or Maps.
And now, TikTok is also becoming a source of news and information, as more news organizations look to lean into the platform, and establish connection with the next generation of consumers.
That’s the focus of the latest report from the Reuters Institute, which looks at how people are using TikTok for news content, and which sources are playing a role in shaping their opinions in the app.
You can download the full, 38-page report here, and it’s well worth a read, but there are two specific elements that are worth highlighting to help better understand and contextualize the TikTok shift.
First off, there’s this chart, which looks at the percentage of people who are using TikTok for news content in each age bracket.
As you can see, younger users are increasingly turning to TikTok to stay informed of the latest news updates. Which is a significant shift, and not just for news publishers looking to connect with their audience, but also in terms of broader impacts, and how young audiences are staying in touch with the latest happenings.
Which then leads into this second chart:
As you can see, it’s not mainstream news sources that are the primary sources of news content on TikTok, its ‘internet personalities’ followed by ‘ordinary people’, with traditional journalists and publications much further back.
That’s a significant trend, which could reflect a broader distrust of mainstream media outlets, and the information presented in the news as we know it.
Now, younger audiences are more reliant on their favorite influencers to act as a filter, of sorts, to help highlight the news of most relevance – which could be good, in that it facilitates a new angle on the big stories each day. But it could be bad, in that the news they present and discuss is then based on the personal bias of each influencer, which is arguably a less transparent process than mainstream news outlets.
But that also depends on your perspective. Journalists, for the most part, work to uphold standards of integrity in their reporting, in order to limit the influence of personal bias, and present the key information within their updates. But increasingly, many news outlets have leaned into more controversial takes and opinions. Because that’s what works best with social media algorithms – you’re going to generate much more engagement, and thus, reach, with a headline that says something like ‘The President hates farmers’ as opposed to a more balanced report on the latest agricultural policy.
Many outlets have essentially weaponized this, and seem to employ partisan takes as a key element in their coverage, again, in order to maximize reader response, to get people commenting and sharing, and prompt more clicks.
Which definitely works, but it’s this approach that’s likely turned many younger consumers away from mainstream coverage, while the rising use of TikTok overall means that, one way or another, they’re going to get at least some news content there anyway.
Which could be a concern. Again, amid ongoing questions about the influence of the Chinese Government on the app, it seems like it should be a significant consideration that more and more young people are leaning on the app to stay informed about the latest news topics.
The report also looks at how news publishers are using TikTok, and what specific approaches are driving the most success.
“There’s no single recipe for success. Many publishers use a strategy based on hiring young creators who are native to the platform and its vernacular. This approach has connected strongly with audiences and brought critical acclaim but can make it harder to re-version content for other social platforms. Others have focused on showcasing the assets of the entire newsroom, including more experienced correspondents and anchors, delivering greater scale and flexibility but often without the same personal touch.”
So using platform-native influencers, and those more savvy with TikTok-specific trends, can help to increase engagement and performance. But there’s no definitive TikTok playbook, as such, that will lead to guaranteed, sustained success.
Which, in some ways, is because that’s not how TikTok is built. Unlike other social media apps, TikTok isn’t designed to get you to follow the people and companies that you like, in order to essentially curate your own experience.
On TikTok, the aim is to show you the most entertaining content, from anyone, in alignment with your personal interests, which you express by simply using the app. By expanding the pool of potential content to everybody, that gives TikTok’s algorithms a lot more ways to keep you glued to your feed – but the flipside is that it also makes it much harder for creators and brands to establish a following, and keep their audience coming back, as they can on other apps.
That puts more focus onto each post itself, and how entertaining your latest update is. Which is better for TikTok’s ecosystem in general, but it also means that there are more challenges in maintaining reach and resonance in the app.
That’s true for news organizations, but it’s also true for brands, because you can’t just get people to follow your brand in the app and hope that they’ll then see everything that you post.
On TikTok, it’s a new competition, every day, and if you’re not entertaining, and holding engagement with each update, you’re going to lose, on that day at least.
You can download the full Reuters Institute ‘How Publishers are Learning to Create and Distribute News on TikTok’ report here.
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