With His Twitter Popularity Waning, Elon Musk Cheats on His Tweets

Twitter CEO Elon Musk fired a worker who said his posts got less engagement because fewer people cared, then he jimmied the algorithm

Buying a social media operation for $44 billion does not guarantee one’s popularity, Tesla/SpaceX CEO and Twitter Commander Elon Musk discovered when his Super Bowl tweet scored less engagement than a similar post by Joe Biden. But the billionaire industrialist was quick to find a workaround—after firing an employee who told him fewer users cared about him anymore, Musk ordered his surviving minions to adjust the algorithm to boost his tweets.

As Platformer reports, Musk has been fretting heavily his waning Twitter numbers of late, firing a top engineer last week who told him his nosediving stats were not a technical glitch but a reflection of users’ decreasing interest in him. Musk’s henchmen/women then advised the remaining brains of the operation that they would be axed next if the problem wasn’t “fixed,” according to the website, which says its report is “based on interviews with people familiar with the events involved and supported by documents obtained.”

On Sunday, when the (probably accidental) owner and Chief Executive of the greasy portal discovered that President Biden’s tweet rooting for the Eagles got nearly 29 million impressions while his own post, also backing Philly, garnered just over 9.1 million, he deleted the underperforming tweet and private-jetted back to the Bay Area to gather his people.

James Musk, cousin of Elon, blasted the company Slack at 2:36 a.m. Monday, exhorting staffers: “We are debugging an issue with engagement across the platform. Any people who can make dashboards and write software please can you help solve this problem. This is high urgency. If you are willing to help out please thumbs up this post.”

About 80 employees heeded the call, slaving through the wee hours to find a reason besides public apathy to explain Musk’s cratering clout. One hypothesis suggested that his presence was petering because so many people had blocked or muted him. This may have come as a powerful gut-punch to Musk, who was once perhaps Twitter’s greatest troll-king as he challenged company censorship and its cozy relationship with mainstream media outlets.

But Musk’s takeover—paid for in large part by unsavory friends—has been marked by mass firings, his own special brand of censorship for critical journalists, erratic policy shifts, and even stiffing landlords on rent. But Musk was sure technology was to blame for his Twitter dip.

Luckily for the engineers, they did find one way to blame tech. Twitter is coded to promote tweets from users whose posts get engagement from both followers and non-followers in the “For You” tab. That programming should have favored Musk’s tweets as well, but they appeared fewer than half the times that engineers’ models predicted.

The solution, reportedly, was to cheat.

According to Platformer, Musk’s team employed code that would automatically “green-light” the boss’s tweets, enabling Musk’s missives to bypass Twitter filters that are designed to show people the content that might best match their interests. The ingenious new algorithm now jumps-up Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000—“a constant score that ensured his tweets rank higher than anyone else’s in the feed.”

Some may say that this artificial finagling of Twitter’s internal logic—called a “power user multiplier”—is just the kind of thing Musk once railed against. But, if it’s any consolation, the cheat won’t be widespread: it applies to Musk and Musk alone. And it explains why his tweets are suddenly so in your face, which Lonno apparently thinks is hilarious.

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