Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s own tweets recently flooded users’ timelines after he ordered employees to fix the perceived problem of his tweets not performing as well as he thought they should.
The billionaire called for urgent updates to his newly-bought social media site after his tweet about the Super Bowl earned less engagement than President Joe Biden’s, despite Musk having nearly 100 million more followers, anonymous sources familiar with the matter told tech blog Platformer.
By Monday afternoon, updated code was artificially boosting Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000, forcing his tweets to appear before all others on the “For You” timeline, which ranks tweets using an algorithm. The new code also prevented the app from making sure Musk’s tweets did not overwhelm the timeline.
The move came after Musk fired an engineer who said engagement on his tweets was declining because people were less interested in him, a conclusion backed up by data, as reported by Platformer.
Biden’s tweet, sharing First Lady Jill Biden’s support for the Philadelphia Eagles, currently has more than 192,600 likes and 9,853 retweets. Musk’s tweet, which said “Go @Eagles!!!” with American flag emojis, garnered at least 68,500 likes and 7,612 retweets before being deleted within about four hours, according to Snopes.
An anonymous current employee told Platformer that Musk manipulating the social media site for “users to hear only his voice” flew against the free speech ideals he professed during his Twitter buyout in the fall.
“I think we’re past the point of believing that he actually wants what’s best for everyone here,” the employee said.
Musk joked about the situation on Tuesday, posting a meme of one woman labeled “Elon’s Tweets” forcing another woman labeled “Twitter” to drink from a bottle of milk while grabbing her hair.
Around 3 a.m. on Tuesday, he tweeted, “Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… ‘algorithm’.”