Right-wingers cry fraud as Twitter users overwhelmingly vote for Elon Musk to resign in his own poll

Conservatives that embraced Musk's war on the left are baselessly blaming the poll results on "bots"

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published December 19, 2022 9:30AM (EST)

Jared Kushner and Elon Musk look on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Jared Kushner and Elon Musk look on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Twitter owner Elon Musk's right-wing fans alleged fraud in a poll asking users whether he should step down as the head of the social network.

Musk, who had drawn growing backlash for cozying up to the far-right while suspending journalists and accounts that publish public information, posted the poll shortly after coming under fire from all sides for a new Twitter policy that banned users from linking to other social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Mastodon. Musk abruptly changed the policy in response to criticism, limiting the rule only to accounts whose primary purpose is to promote competitors.

"Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes," he tweeted. "My apologies. Won't happen again."

He followed up with a poll asking users whether he should let someone else run the platform. Musk has previously polled users on whether to reinstate suspended accounts and whether to reinstate former President Donald Trump.

"Should I step down as head of Twitter?" he wrote. "I will abide by the results of this poll."

More than 57% of the 17.5 million users who participated in the poll voted "yes," with 42.5% voting "no."

Musk's fans on the right quickly alleged that fraud may be to blame, as has become a common right-wing refrain anytime a vote does not go their way.

"Are you sure bots aren't voting here???" questioned conservative pundit Michele Tafoya.

"Proof there's still way too many liberal bots," wrote right-wing pundit Curtis Houck.

"NO. STOP THE STEAL," tweeted Newsmax host Benny Johnson.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who has become a Musk cheerleader since his Twitter takeover, pushed a similar claim.

"The votes saying 'yes' are most likely bots and there are far more tweets voting against you stepping down then [sic] there are in favor of it," he wrote. "The majority of the people vote NO!"

Conspiracy theorist Kim Dotcom wrote to Musk that it was "unwise" to run a poll like this.

"They have the biggest bot army on Twitter. They have 100k 'analysts' with 30-40 accounts all voting against you. Let's clean up and then run this poll again. The majority has faith in you," he wrote, adding a kissy emoji.

Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, suggested that Musk should have a "'pipe burst' with an hour left and then fill in however many votes you need to get your desired outcome."

"Seems to work for the Democrats," he wrote, pushing a conspiracy theory his family and their supporters have provided no evidence for despite years of false claims.

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Musk has said in the past that he does not plan to serve as the company's CEO forever as his Tesla stock plummets over concerns that he is too focused on his new vanity project. Shares in Tesla have fallen by nearly 30% since Musk's Twitter takeover.

"I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time," Musk reportedly said last month.

But it's unclear how quickly Musk would "abide" by the results of the poll, if at all.

"The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive," he wrote on Sunday, claiming that the company has been "in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May."

"No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive," he wrote. "There is no successor."

Musk's leadership of the company has been widely criticized as he unbanned right-wing accounts accused of inciting violence and spreading misinformation while suspending journalists that reported news about him and an account that used public information to track his private jet. He laid off thousands of Twitter workers, causing many others to leave in protest, and has repeatedly changed Twitter rules without notice and based on personal grievance despite accusing previous Twitter executives of doing the same on behalf of Democrats.

Musk released internal Twitter files to independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss, detailing internal content moderation discussions related to former President Donald Trump, right-wing accounts, and an article about Hunter Biden's laptop. Musk tore into Twitter's former team for making up rules as they went along but Weiss called him out for acting the same way after he suspended numerous prominent journalists from the platform.

"The old regime at Twitter governed by its own whims and biases and it sure looks like the new regime has the same problem," Weiss tweeted. "I oppose it in both cases."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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