After Elon Musk’s Super Bowl tweet garnered less engagement than Joe Biden’s, the Twitter CEO threatened to fire several of the company’s engineers and had 80 employees build a system so that his tweets would be viewed by more users, according to Platformer.
The report on Tuesday detailed how after the Super Bowl, he had engineers at Twitter come up with a new way for his posts to receive more traction, after his Super Bowl tweet got nine million impressions and Biden’s got 29 million.
At 2:36 a.m. on Monday, James Musk, Elon’s cousin, summoned Twitter engineers to “help solve” the “high urgency problem” of Musk’s low engagement, per the report. Following the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, Musk flew his jet to the Bay Area to confront his team and demand they fix the engagement issue, according to Platformer.
Eighty engineers were pulled in for the project and worked to “investigate various hypotheses about why Musk’s tweets weren’t reaching as many people as he thought they should” and to test solutions, per the report.
By Monday afternoon, engineers were able to send out a code that would allow Musk’s tweets to bypass the algorithm and boost his posts by a factor of 1,000 by using a tool called the “power user multiplier,” which only has been applied to Musk, per the report.
On Tuesday, the CEO tested out the feature and posted a “forced to drink milk” meme in which “Elon’s tweets” were forcibly fed to “Twitter.” By the time of publication, the milk meme tweet had nearly 125 million views and 1.2 million likes.
Later that morning, Musk seemed to acknowledged the boost in his tweets’ views and wrote, “Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… ‘algorithm,’” he wrote.
Sources told Platformer that the boost on Musk’s account continues to play out, but that it is now lower than 1,000 views. His most recent tweets have been viewed by 50 million people or more, while some of his tweets from earlier in February reached less than 8 million. (It’s also unclear how accurate Twitter’s view count is.)
“He bought the company, made a point of showcasing what he believed was broken and manipulated under previous management, then turns around and manipulates the platform to force engagement on all users to hear only his voice,” a current Twitter employee told Platformer. “I think we’re past the point of believing that he actually wants what’s best for everyone here.”
The post-Super Bowl change to Twitter comes several weeks after he fired a leading Twitter engineer who reportedly told Musk that engagement on his page had declined because the interest in him had dwindled.
According to a report published last Thursday in the tech newsletter, Musk convened some of what little staff he had left at the company and demanded to know why his tweets were underperforming.
“This is ridiculous,” he reportedly said in a Tuesday meeting last week. “I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”
“You’re fired, you’re fired,” Musk allegedly told the top engineer who had offered this narrative. (Platformer withheld the person’s name “in light of the harassment Musk has directed at former Twitter employees.”) Rolling Stone has reached out to Musk, who has yet to confirm or deny this version of events.