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Twitter users voted to oust Elon Musk in his recent poll. How did we get here?

After a tumultuous weekend, including bans on certain journalists and external links, some people are fed up with Musk's vision of the platform.
Photo illustration of a cracked screen showing keyboards and phone screens in blue and red, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty Images

Elon Musk had a tough weekend. 

He lost a Twitter poll asking whether he should remain as CEO. He faced growing unrest from Tesla shareholders. And he managed to alienate some of his most ardent supporters. 

Even amid the difficult start of his tenure as the company’s owner, it was a series of events that stood out. 

“I still think Elon is a smart guy,” Paul Graham, a prominent venture capitalist and the founder of the startup accelerator Y Combinator, wrote in a post on Hacker News. “He could still salvage the situation. He’s the sort of person it would be a big mistake to write off. And I hope he does. I would be delighted to go back to using Twitter regularly.”

Graham was among the most high-profile and Musk-friendly voices to say they had had enough in response to Twitter’s announcement that it would ban the promotion of accounts on other platforms. Graham, who had been generally supportive of Musk’s takeover, has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers. 

In a tweet announcing his departure, Graham directed followers to his personal website to find his Mastodon profile. He was suspended; his account has been reinstated. 

“This is gonna get really, really interesting,” tech investor Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, tweeted about Graham’s suspension.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk had already been losing some support after the banning of several high-profile journalists late last week triggered widespread criticism — even some from conservative influencers. Plenty of high-profile people have already left Twitter.

But Musk’s ban on link sharing and his subsequent poll asking whether he should step down have been seized on by some who had welcomed him or entertained the idea that he could improve Twitter.

Jimmy Donaldson, a popular digital media creator better known as MrBeast on YouTube, where he has 121 million subscribers, had publicly engaged with Musk about ideas to make the platform a destination for creators. 

But by Sunday night, even Donaldson was suggesting that Musk should step aside. In response to Musk’s Twitter poll about whether he should step down, Donaldson responded, “If you’re going to keep doing stuff like this, yes,” including a vomit emoji and a screenshot of Twitter’s link-banning rule, which it has since rescinded. 

Donaldson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Musk reinstated a handful of banned journalists Saturday after he conducted a Twitter poll asking users whether he should uphold the ban. Following backlash, Twitter also quickly rolled back its decision to ban users’ promotion of links to Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post accounts. 

But the damage appeared to have been done. Aaron Levie, the CEO of the cloud storage company Box, had called the link ban “sad” in a tweet

Levie tweeted to Musk: “If users don’t know if there’s going to be a policy change at any moment that could risk their reach and audience, they won’t trust the service to use at scale. That’s a huge risk over the long term!” 

Musk tweeted an apology about the policy change Sunday afternoon. He wrote: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”

But after all that, some users are skeptical that Twitter is a platform they want to remain on. The developments over the weekend were just the latest in a slew of growing issues that have marked a tumultuous tenure for Musk. 

Musk completed the $44 billion deal to own Twitter on Oct. 27. He subsequently laid off chunks of the company. He has alienated marginalized users and free speech absolutists with his policy changes. As conditions on Twitter have tensed, users have looked for alternatives.

Some even wondered whether they could do a better job.

“Should I run Twitter ?” Snoop Dogg wrote in a Twitter poll Sunday. As of Monday afternoon, the overwhelming response was yes.

Musk’s usually active Twitter account was relatively quiet Monday after having tweeted dozens of times over the weekend. Among his last tweets Sunday night was a response to Lex Fridman, a technologist and podcaster who volunteered to take the reins as CEO for free. 

Musk responded with a warning: “You must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?”