When Twitter Inc. co-founder Jack Dorsey invited Elon Musk to speak at a companywide retreat in early 2020, he asked the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer a prescient hypothetical question. “If you were running Twitter—by the way, do you want to run Twitter?” Dorsey joked as employees laughed. “What would you do?”
Musk, who at the time was neither the world’s richest man nor Twitter’s biggest headache, took the question seriously. “I think it would be helpful to differentiate between real” and fake accounts, he replied, his face projected onto several giant video screens inside the Houston convention center as more than 4,000 Twitter employees sat listening. Musk specifically called out “botnets” and “troll armies” for trying to manipulate the social media network. “What’s real public opinion, and what’s not?” he asked.