Elon Musk tweaked Twitter rules to make his posts more visible


It seems Twitter’s boss Elon Musk really did order his engineers to change the system’s algorithm so that millions of users would see his tweets first after logging in.

Musk would probably not admit it outright, but people at Twitter, a social media platform turned into the billionaire’s personal playground, are prolific leakers.

No surprise, then, that Musk’s tweets filling up millions of users’ “For You” timelines is not a coincidence. The Verge is reporting that Musk has demanded to change Twitter’s algorithm so that his tweets would generate more impressions and end up on virtually everyone’s timeline.

It all began on Sunday when US president Joe Biden tweeted out his support for the Philadelphia Eagles at the upcoming Super Bowl and generated around 29 million impressions. Musk also sent a message in support of the Eagles but only got nine million impressions and soon deleted the tweet.

Just a few hours later, Jason Musk, a cousin of the Twitter boss, sent an urgent message to the network’s engineers. The Verge got hold of its content.

“We are debugging an issue with engagement across the platform. 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,” Musk, the cousin, wrote.

The engineers soon realized the nature of this bizarre middle-of-the-night request. Musk wanted the system to promote his tweets to the entire user base and actually threatened to fire his team of remaining engineers if they didn’t implement the change.

Last week, The Verge already broke the news that one principal engineer was laid off when he dared to tell the “free speech maximalist” that views on his tweets were declining simply because other people are less interested in him in general.

This time a solution was reportedly found – the engineers knew perfectly well how quick Musk is to fire people and got to work. Twitter deployed code to automatically make Musk’s tweets bypass Twitter’s filters designed to show people the best-performing content.

This meant that the algorithm artificially boosted Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000 and gave them an extremely high ranking. According to The Verge’s sources at the company, this is called a “power user multiplier” internally, even though it only applies to Musk.

The code also enabled Musk’s account to bypass the rule that prevents a single account from flooding the “For You” timeline. No wonder people found Twitter being dominated by Musk on that very same Monday – and a lot of them were frustrated enough to make #BlockElon trending.

It has to be said Musk has reacted to the uproar. He tweeted: “Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh… “algorithm”.” Now, Musk’s tweets are still artificially boosted but the factor is now lower than 1,000.

If we jumped back to last year, we’d see Musk blaming and getting rid of the previous management for what he believed to be manipulations around Twitter’s timeline. Well, if Jack Dorsey was a master, then Musk is a very good apprentice – however, he’s probably just a massive snowflake.


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