According to a recent report from Platformer, Twitter CEO Elon Musk had his engineers create a “special system” to boost his tweets after discovering that a post about the Super Bowl he had tweeted did not receive as many views as a tweet from President Biden. The tweet in question was related to Musk’s support of the Philadelphia Eagles, and his cousin James Musk later posted a message on Twitter’s Slack requesting help from anyone who could make dashboards and write software. According to the report, Musk later addressed his team in person and threatened more firings if the engagement issue was not resolved.
A solution was found by Monday, which reportedly boosted Musk’s tweets’ reach. Twitter users reported seeing Musk’s posts on their app and having them overwhelm their ranked timeline. The Platformer report confirmed that after Musk threatened to fire his remaining engineers, they developed a system that would ensure that only Musk benefits from the promotion of his tweets to the entire user base. According to the report, Musk’s account received a “power user multiplier,” which bypassed Twitter’s filters that are designed to show users the best content possible. This ensured that his tweets ranked higher than anyone else’s in the feed, and this multiplier applies only to Musk.
Twitter engineers were able to deploy code that automatically greenlit all of Musk’s tweets, artificially boosting his tweets by a factor of 1,000. Musk later posted a meme indicating that he was aware of the situation, which drew 148.9 million views. According to Platformer, the multiplier for Musk’s account was subsequently lowered a bit, so it’s less than 1,000 now.
Musk has tweeted on multiple occasions about his view count. He even temporarily made his account private a couple of weeks ago, saying he wanted to test whether people would see his private tweets more than his public ones. Musk also claimed that a problem occurred with the Fanout service for Following feed, which was getting overloaded when he tweeted, resulting in up to 95% of his tweets not getting delivered at all.
While engineers stated that Musk’s reach might have been reduced because he had been blocked and muted by so many people in recent months, there may have been a technical reason for his low views. Twitter’s system has historically promoted tweets from users whose posts perform better to both followers and non-followers in the For You Tab. According to some internal estimates, Musk’s tweets should have fit that model but showed up less only about half the time that some engineers thought they should.
Musk made himself the Twitter CEO after buying the company in late October but has said he won’t keep the job indefinitely. Musk reportedly said today that “toward the end of this year should be a good timing to find someone else to run the company.” Before ceding the CEO job, Musk said he wants to make sure Twitter is “in stable condition.”