Elon Musk forced Twitter engineers to alter an algorithm to boost his tweets on users’ feeds, according to a report from Platformer.
After a Sunday evening post expressing support for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl got significantly less impressions than President Joe Biden’s tweet showcasing his support for the team — Musk’s post received just over 9.1 million impressions while Biden’s tweet generated almost 29 million impressions — the Twitter CEO reportedly flew to the Bay Area Sunday night to discuss the issue with his team.
At approximately 2:36 a.m. on Monday, James Musk, the CEO’s cousin, reportedly sent a Slack message to the company’s engineers signaling a “high urgency” “issue with engagement.”
“We are debugging an issue with engagement across the platform,” James Musk wrote. “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.”
By the time the Twitter boss arrived to meet with the team, Platformer wrote that around 80 engineers had been pulled into the project, with many investigating hypotheses why Musk’s tweets weren’t reaching a broader audience.
While one engineer pointed out that Musk might have been blocked and muted by Twitter users in the past several months, an internal estimate determined that the CEO’s tweets were appearing in the For You Tab only about half the time that Twitter engineers believed they should, as posts receiving significant impressions appear to both followers and non-followers in the tab.
Musk teased the alteration on Twitter, posting “Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… ‘algorithm.'”
According to Platformer, the alteration was complete by Monday afternoon, as the algorithm enabled Musk’s tweets to bypass content filters automatically, resulting in the CEO’s tweets being boosted by a factor of 1,000 — internally referred to as a “power user multiplier” despite only being applied to Musk.
As a result, over 90% of Musk’s followers now see his tweets, according to an internal estimate shared by Platformer.
There is no communications department left at Twitter following mass layoffs and a representative for Twitter did not immediately respond upon TheWrap’s request for comment on Platformer’s report.