Elon Musk Is Reportedly Firing People Over His Own Flop Tweets
In December, Twitter unveiled “views,” a feature of dubious value that new owner Elon Musk hoped would demonstrate the true reach of user’s posts. In theory, this impression count — which is supposed to tick upward whenever someone sees a post, whether they engage with it or not — would function a bit like the viewer stats on apps like TikTok or YouTube. In practice, most Twitter users learned to ignore it.
Except, of course, for Musk himself, a.k.a. the “Chief Twit.” Despite boasting an audience of 128.5 million followers, the company’s CEO is reportedly dissatisfied with his level of visibility on the site. According to a report published Thursday in the tech newsletter Platformer, Musk convened some of what little staff he has left at the company and demanded to know why his tweets were underperforming.
“This is ridiculous,” he reportedly said in the Tuesday meeting. “I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”
Musk’s complaint followed an experiment meant to test his engagement days earlier. Once again following advice from the site’s right-wing trolls, who had come to the paradoxical conclusion that setting your account to private actually boosts your views, Musk locked down his own profile. He later unlocked and announced that certain “issues” had been identified in the test, and would be addressed. We have yet to learn what those issues were or what may have been done to resolve them.
In any event, Musk’s frustrations with the viewership gauge evidently continued, and when he raised the question of his flop tweets at this week’s meeting, he got an answer that didn’t suit him at all. “One of the company’s two remaining principal engineers offered a possible explanation for Musk’s declining reach,” according to Platformer: that “just under a year after the Tesla CEO made his surprise offer to buy Twitter for $44 billion, public interest in his antics is waning.” Employees also used a Google Trends chart to demonstrate how Musk had fallen out of the spotlight all on his own.
“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.
But the mercurial billionaire, it seems, has not deviated from his search for an operating glitch or algorithmic reason to account for his waning prominence on the platform. Internally, the atmosphere is tense. “When you’re asked a question, you run it through your head and say ‘what is the least fireable response I can have to this right now?’” another employee told Platformer.
Late yesterday — the day after firing the engineer who theorized that he might not be as interesting or popular as he believes — Musk announced that Twitter’s recommendation algorithm would be “fixed” by today. So don’t be surprised if you start seeing a lot more of him in your feed.