Twitter engineers told to boost Elon Musk's tweets after Joe Biden's Super Bowl post was more popular
Or they would be firedBy Rob Thubron 33 comments
WTF?! The great thing about owning Twitter is that you can tell its engineers to boost your tweets, and if they can't, threaten them with dismissal. According to a new report, that's exactly what Elon Musk did after his tweet during the Super Bowl failed to attract as much engagement as President Biden's.
Twitter users might have seen Biden's tweet proclaiming his support for the Philadelphia Eagles, which included a retweeted video from Jill Biden showing the First Lady wearing an Eagle's jersey. So far, the President's tweet has received 29 million views and almost 200,000 Likes.
As your president, I'm not picking favorites.— President Biden (@POTUS) February 13, 2023
But as Jill Biden's husband, fly Eagles, fly. https://t.co/YtgaEC83Qj
Elon Musk also tweeted support for the Eagles, but his post received just over 9 million views, around 20 million fewer than Biden's, and 68,500 Likes. The CEO deleted it after four hours.
Platformer's Zoë Schiffer and Casey Newton reported that Musk traveled to Twitter's San Francisco HQ in his private jet after the game to speak to his team about why his post wasn't as popular as Biden's.
At 02:36 on Monday morning, Musk's cousin, James Musk, sent a "high urgency" message to 80 Twitter engineers stating, "We are debugging an issue with engagement across the platform," another reaction to Biden's tweet receiving more engagement than Musk's.
Engineers worked through the night to discover why Musk's tweets weren't performing as well as expected, likely motivated by the threat of losing their jobs if the issue wasn't addressed. One employee posited that Musk's reach might be limited due to the number of people who have blocked and muted the CEO in recent months, though it could have been down to technical reasons, such as Twitter's system promoting tweets from users whose posts perform better to both followers and non-followers.
Musk got his wish. By Monday afternoon, Twitter implemented code to greenlight all of Musk's tweets so they bypass the platform's filters designed to show users the best content. His posts were boosted by a factor of 1,000, pushing them above all others in users' feeds. One internal estimate states that over 90% of Musk's followers now see his tweets, and millions who don't follow him are also seeing his content in the For You Tab.
Musk acknowledged his tweets filling up people's timelines with the following meme:
February 14, 2023
Musk also tweeted that the changes to the algorithm will be "adjusted." Platformer writes that his posts are currently being boosted by a factor of less than 1,000.
The world's second-richest person isn't averse to firing Twitter staff who don't do as he commands. He terminated the employment of an engineer who argued with him publicly in November and reportedly fired another engineer on the spot after they told him his popularity was declining on the platform.