What can you do if Twitter fails to prioritize your tweets as much as you’d like it to?
Well, if you happen to own the social media platform, you could simply get someone to make a few phone calls to Twitter engineers and tell them to tweak the relevant algorithm.
This is pretty much what Twitter owner Elon Musk reportedly did after discovering that a tweet he posted in support of the Philadelphia Eagles during Sunday’s Super Bowl received much less exposure than one tweeted by President Joe Biden on the same matter.
Biden’s tweet reportedly generated around 29 million impressions while Musk’s picked up about 9 million impressions before he deleted it.
According to Platformer, James Musk — Elon’s cousin and a Twitter employee — hopped onto Slack in the early hours of Monday morning to post a message to all staff that said they needed to debug “an issue with engagement across the platform.”
“Any people who can make dashboards and write software please can you help solve this problem,” Musk said in his message, adding: “This is high urgency. If you are willing to help out please thumbs up this post.”
Platformer said that Twitter’s CEO flew his private jet back to the Bay Area on Sunday night “to demand answers from his team,” about why his tweets weren’t performing as well as he expected.
As engineers worked to tweak the algorithm earlier this week, Twitter users found that Musk’s tweets began taking a more prominent position in the algorithm-generated For You feed.
The publication said: “This was no accident, Platformer can confirm: after Musk threatened to fire his remaining engineers, they built a system designed to ensure that Musk — and Musk alone — benefits from previously unheard-of promotion of his tweets to the entire user base.”
Apparently acknowledging that the algorithm had suddenly gone to the other extreme, Musk tweeted on Tuesday: “Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… ‘algorithm.’”
Similar reports a few weeks ago suggested that Musk wasn’t happy with the number of impressions his tweets were getting, especially as a new feature shows such data beneath each post and therefore makes the figures public. The Twitter CEO reportedly fired a principal Twitter engineer after the engineer told him that impressions on his tweets were dropping partly because interest in Musk himself had declined.
App researcher Jane Manchun Wong offered up the perfect solution — simply add another tab called “Elon Musk.”