Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a jab at “cage match” rival Elon Musk outside the ring, saying the X owner’s “polarizing” style will keep the social media platform from reaching its “full potential.”
Zuckerberg — who recently said Musk “isn’t serious” about fighting him in a mixed martial arts battle — said he’s “less optimistic” that the site formerly known as Twitter is in better hands since the Tesla mogul acquired it for $44 billion last year.
“I think it’s still not clear exactly what trajectory it’s on,” Zuckerberg told The Verge tech reporter Alex Heath on Wednesday.
“But I do think he’s been pretty polarizing, so I think that the chance that it sort of reaches the full potential on the trajectory that it’s on is … I don’t know. I guess I’m probably less optimistic or just think there’s less of a chance now than there was before.”
Zuckerberg, whose own “Twitter killer” app Threads has floundered since its highly publicized launch last July, also revealed that he considered buying Twitter at around the time that founder Jack Dorsey was fired as CEO in 2008.
He viewed Twitter as a “billion-person social app” that he could “scale,” but acquisition talks went nowhere.
X currently has about 200 million users.
The Facebook founder did praise Musk as a “change agent.”
“With Elon coming in, I think there was certainly an opportunity to change things up and he has,” Zuckerberg said.
The Post has sought comment from X Corp.
After completing his acquisition of Twitter, Musk instituted wholesale changes by laying off some 80% of staffers, overhauling content moderation policies, reinstating banned accounts such as those of former President Donald Trump and the satirical news site Babylon Bee, and rebranding the firm as X Corp.
Musk’s freewheeling style and right-leaning politics have reportedly scared off advertisers who are wary of being associated with a site that allows for unfettered speech that critics say veers into antisemitism and xenophobia.
Earlier this week, X Corp. reportedly slashed more than half of the team that was tasked with fighting election-linked misinformation.
Zuckerberg told The Verge that X’s “negative and critical” slant was one reason he rolled out Threads.
In July, Adam Mosseri, a Zuckerberg lieutenant who runs Instagram, told The Verge that Threads is “not going to do anything to encourage” politics and “hard news.”
“There are more than enough amazing communities — sports, music, fashion, beauty, entertainment, etc. — to make a vibrant platform without needing to get into politics or hard news,” Mosseri told The Verge.
Despite an initial July 5 rollout which saw 100 million signups within the first week, traffic to Threads retreated significantly in the ensuing weeks — dropping by as much as 82%.