Is Elon Musk Twitter’s New Donald Trump?

The boss of the social network mixes provocation and strong opinions, recalling the style and method of the former American president on the social network. These latest publications reinforce this strange filiation a little more.

Tweet about everything, but especially tweet. This mantra seemed to guide Donald Trump’s posts on Twitter. Before his eviction from the social network, the former president of the United States could not help but give his opinion, create scandals or simply hammer his vision of society.

Now at the head of the platform, Elon Musk seems to have taken over. A proclaimed worshiper of freedom of expression, the boss of Tesla, SpaceX and now Twitter wants to give back “power to the people” and strengthen the voice of anonymous people. Above all, he visibly takes a liking to controversy and catchy tweets, Donald Trump style.

The latest? “He is fired” he tweeted under the critical message of a collaborator. Obviously, this sentence – since deleted – echoes that of the former American president, reality TV version, when he “fired” with all his might the candidates from his show The Apprentice.

This strange filiation does not stop there. On the form, first of all: cascading tweets, often succinct, supported by a powerful community of “fans”. Rarely in self-criticism, the billionaire likes to relay publications to his glory and is never stingy with a harsh criticism against an opponent.

“Brash. Unpredictable. Ruthless. Autocratic. Vindictive. Does that remind you of anyone?” written in the Guardian Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor to Bill Clinton.

Basically, Elon Musk also has some acquaintances with Donald Trump. Among the first decisions of the new leader of Twitter: the establishment of a paid certification in order to pass everyone as a reliable source of information. All while pointing the finger at “journalists who think they are the only legitimate source of information”.

Distrust of journalists was one of Donald Trump’s signatures. And obviously, it also becomes that of Elon Musk. In the eyes of the richest man in the world, the New York Times would thus be a disinformation site. At least that’s what he implies in a post. Later the same day, he assimilated the British newspaper The Guardian at “a far-left propaganda machine”.

Surrounded by devotees rather than experts

All against a backdrop of false allegations. On October 31, Elon Musk shared a link to a site that has published conspiracy theories in the past. The article was about the assault on Nancy Pelosi’s husband and contained unverified information. Faced with criticism and comments, the leader deleted his publication.

The bankruptcy of the crypto giant FTX was also an opportunity for him to fuel conspiracy theories. According to him, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, was never in the sights of the American authorities – unlike him – because he was a “major donor to Democrats”.

His first steps at the head of Twitter also recall the first days of Donald Trump at the head of the United States. As Axios explains, the former president had preferred to rely on a circle of followers rather than surrounding himself with experts in their field. The wave of layoffs triggered upon his arrival is not trivial.

Even in his management, Elon Musk takes over Trump’s modus operandi. Proposals and ideas floated on Twitter have mostly not been discussed internally. For the social network, some of the employees do not know what to do, reports the American site The Verge. Some go so far as to scrutinize the publications of their boss to identify their tasks.

A call for the Republican vote

Among the first investors at the launch of Twitter, Chris Sacca tried to decipher the behavior of the businessman. According to him, Elon Musk “is completely alone at the moment and improvises”. In a long series of tweetshe assures that Twitter will not be able to remain healthy with so many engineers and operators being laid off.

Finally, the new boss of the platform has taken a new step. On November 7, Elon Musk called for voting for the Republican Party in the midterm elections. Although he had already shared his electoral tendency in May, the billionaire’s importance and influence have now risen sharply.

In his time, Donald Trump also used Twitter to denigrate Democratic politics and praise his action. With behavior becoming radicalized over time, the former president’s influence on the platform had led to the attack on the US Capitol. Followed by his exclusion from the social network. But who will be able to moderate Elon Musk’s behavior on his own platform?

Narcissism

But comparison is not always right. “They are different generations, with different skills and different roles in the bizarre firmament of modern America” continues in the Guardian Robert Reich. The latter especially sees in common “the emergence of a particular American personality in the first decades of the 21st century: the extremely disruptive narcissist.”

“It’s not mimicry but the same vision of the world, of the relationship with others” adds Arnaud Mercier, professor of Information-Communication at the French Press Institute, with Tech&Co. “He cultivates the same desire to pass for a disruptive, a form of brutality to appear iconoclastic.”

For the communication specialist, this “summit exhilaration” acquired thanks to the exposure of Twitter could even give ideas to Musk. “All of this gives the feeling that he has political agendas. Trump has led by example and if he demonetizes himself, there is a place to take in the political space.” The new boss of Twitter will however face a glass ceiling: not being born in the United States, he will not be able to run for the same supreme function as Donald Trump.

Thomas Leroy and Pierre Monnier

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