Digital Culture

Elon Musk's Twitter polls backfire spectacularly

Whoops! That didn't go according to plan.
By Tim Marcin  on 
elon musk in a halloween costume posing and screenshots of tweets he posted about suspending journalists
Vox populi? Nah...not right now. Credit: Taylor Hill / Getty Images / Screenshots: Twitter / @elonmusk

Chief Twit Elon Musk says he lives by one rule: Vox populi, vox dei.

If you're not caught up on your Latin, that phrase means majority rules — the voice of people is the voice of God. Musk has cited it in his reasoning for creating Twitter polls to justify his agenda, like unbanning former President Donald Trump in the name of free speech, for instance.

Well, vox populi, vox dei has come back to bite Musk in the ass. On Thursday night (Dec. 15), Twitter banned a handful of journalists who cover the billionaire, including Mashable's own Matt Binder. Musk has meekly cited "doxxing" as his justification for banning them. He's been up in arms over a Twitter account that tracked his private jet using publicly available information. He seems to be targeting journalists who covered that news. It's all pretty unclear... almost as if Musk is just a kid in a sandbox making up new rules as he invents the game.

So Musk posted a poll about these suspensions, clearly hoping his online mob of fanboys would justify his actions. He was quite wrong.

"Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time," he posted, which just isn't true, but moving past that... The answer options were: now, tomorrow, seven days from now, or later. "Now," won with 43 percent of the vote, followed by later (38.1), seven days (14.4), and tomorrow (4.5). So a plurality of voters wanted no ban at all and a majority didn't want a permanent suspension.

Did Musk listen? Nope! Of course he didn't. He followed up with a rather pathetic, "Sorry, too many options. Will redo poll."

He tried again with just the "now" or "in 7 days" as answer options. Musk, once again, slipped on a metaphorical banana peel that he tossed on the floor. As of this writing "now" is running away with the race, racking up 58.5 percent of the vote.

It seems that even Musk's army of minions can't overwhelm the sentiment that people on Twitter want actual rules enforced with some kind of fairness. All us normal folks aren't overly concerned with people tracking, or reporting on the existence of, the public flight logs of our private jets.

The poll has about half a day left of voting. If "now" wins, surely Musk will listen to the people. After all, he's just trying to be fair and pragmatic. It's not like he's making things up as he goes along, creating different rules for his unbanned rightwing pals and the journalists who cover what he's doing. No way. Vox populi, vox dei, right?

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Tim Marcin

Tim Marcin is a culture reporter at Mashable, where he writes about food, fitness, weird stuff on the internet, and, well, just about anything else. You can find him posting endlessly about Buffalo wings on Twitter at @timmarcin.

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