Elon Musk launches poll asking if he should quit as Twitter CEO

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Twitter CEO Elon Musk launched a poll on the social media platform on Sunday asking users whether he should step down as head of the company, adding that he would abide by the poll results.

As of 0952 GMT, more than 16 million users had participated in the poll, with 57.5% voting in favor of him stepping down one hour remaining before the poll closed on Monday.

The billionaire did not give details on when he would step down if the poll results said he should. Replying to one Twitter user's comment on a possible change in CEO, Musk said "There is no successor".

Musk was in Qatar on Sunday to watch the World Cup final match between Argentina and France.

Musk had told a Delaware court last month that he would reduce his time at Twitter and eventually find a new leader to run the company.

"With the Twitter chaos front and center and resulting in a major headache and overhang for the Tesla story, we believe Musk needs to name a permanent CEO of Twitter (and not Musk himself) to end the pain," said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

The poll comes after Twitter's Sunday policy update, which prohibited accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social media firms and content that contains links or usernames for rival platforms.

Minutes before that poll, Musk apologised and tweeted "Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes."

A few hours later, an official Twitter account started a separate poll asking users if the platform should have a policy preventing accounts that advertise other social media platforms on Twitter.

The policy update would impact content from social media platforms like Meta Platforms' (META.O) Facebook and Instagram, along with Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post while allowing cross-content posting, Twitter support said in a tweet.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who recently invested in social media platform Nostr, replied to the Twitter support post with one word: "Why?". In a reply to another user posting about the Nostr promotion ban, Dorsey said, "doesn’t make sense".

Short video-platform TikTok, owned by China's ByteDance Ltd, was not included in the list.

Last week, Twitter disbanded its Trust and Safety Council, a volunteer group formed in 2016 to advise the social media platform on site decisions.

CHOATIC ACTIONS

The policy change follows other chaotic actions at Twitter since Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla (TSLA.O), bought the social network amid an exodus of advertisers. He fired top management and laid off about half of its workforce, while seesawing on how much to charge for subscription service Twitter Blue.

Shares in Tesla (TSLA.O) were up more than 4% in pre-market U.S. trade on Monday as investors closely watched the results of the poll.

The electric carmaker's shares have fallen almost 60% this year, with investors increasingly concerned about Musk being distracted and about the slowing global economy.

He has also cashed out nearly $40 billions of his Tesla shares over the past year, including big chunks of stock since buying Twitter in October.

"Given how much of a distraction Musk’s tenure at Twitter has become, shareholders in the electric vehicle manufacturer will be breathing a big sigh of relief if he steps back from Twitter and gets back to the day job at Tesla," said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

Musk on Saturday reinstated the Twitter accounts of several journalists that were suspended for a day over a controversy on publishing public data about the billionaire' s plane.

His decision to lift that suspension followed the results of a Twitter poll he had issued, in which the majority of respondents voted for the journalists' accounts to be restored immediately.

The initial suspension of those accounts was heavily criticized by government officials, advocacy groups and several journalism organizations, with some saying Twitter was jeopardizing press freedom.

Reporting by Urvi Dugar, Kanjyik Ghosh, Maria Ponnezhath and Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Abinaya V, Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Sam Holmes and Louise Heavens

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