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The backstory: You may remember that in October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought the social media platform Twitter for a cool US$44 billion, and he's been making major changes to it since then. But not everyone's been thrilled with his decisions as CEO, and he even said he'd step down and find a replacement after the company is in "stable condition," possibly around the end of this year. Tesla investors also seem to agree that would be a good move since most of them feel Twitter is a big distraction from his obligations at Tesla.
More recently: Unfortunately, things haven't been going great for the company lately. Nearly half the workforce was laid off last November, and current employees have described a pretty tense work environment at the company. The layoffs happened when Musk spooked advertisers with comments about rolling back the platform's disinformation filters – causing a bunch of big revenue sources to jump ship.
The development: To top it off, Musk’s tweets during the Super Bowl generated less engagement than US President Biden's, which reportedly was a tough pill for him to swallow. With 29 million impressions, Biden's tweet got nearly three times as many as Musk's, which reached about 9.1 million. For context, Biden has 37 million followers to Musk's 128 million. Ouch.
Musk wasn't going to take this lying down. Platformer reviewed some internal Twitter docs and reported that Musk gathered a team of around 80 engineers to fix the problem. They came up with a new algorithm that would automatically boost his tweets by a factor of 1,000, meaning over 90% of his followers would see his tweets. And get this, even people who don't follow him are being served his tweets in the "For You" tab of the app's home page. Musk isn't shying away from the reports, trolling Twitter users with sarcasm and memes about the tweak.
“We are debugging an issue with engagement across the platform,” reportedly wrote James Musk, the Twitter CEO’s cousin, on Slack to employees. “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.”
"Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… 'algorithm,'" said Elon Musk on Twitter.
"As your president, I'm not picking favorites. But as Jill Biden's husband, fly Eagles, fly," said US president Joe Biden on Twitter during the Super Bowl game.
"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," said a current employee to tech news site Platformer. "I think we're past the point of believing that he actually wants what's best for everyone here."