In the hours since Tucker Carlson’s new show, “Tucker on Twitter,” debuted on the social media site late Tuesday afternoon, the tweet hosting the first episode has racked up a figure that, superficially anyway, indicates that it was seen by a truly astonishing number of people.
According to the Twitter “views” count on the tweet, as of this writing the first episode of “Tucker on Twitter” has been viewed at least 29 million times. Which is indeed a far larger number of people than the roughly 3 million, on average, who tuned in nightly when Carlson was still employed by Fox. But not so fast: Twitter’s measurements of actual engagement — retweets and quote tweets, likes, replies and bookmarks, tell a much different, and far less impressive story.
As of this writing, the tweet hosting the first episode of “Tucker on Twitter” has been retweeted nearly 112,000 times, quote-tweeted around 13,000 times, liked around 373,000 times, and bookmarked around 22,000 times. It has also received around 35,000 replies. Here’s how it looked around 9 p.m. Tuesday:
Those aren’t low numbers, and they’re likely to go up overnight. Clearly Carlson has a lot of fans on Twitter. But there’s a huge gulf between engagement and “views” numbers, and that discrepancy has a simple explanation: Twitter “views” really tell us nothing whatsoever about how popular or sought-out a given tweet is.
According to Twitter’s own FAQ regarding view counts, which you can read here, “Anyone who is logged into Twitter who views a Tweet counts as a view, regardless of where they see the Tweet (e.g. Home, Search, Profiles, etc.) or whether or not they follow the author. If you’re the author, looking at your own Tweet also counts as a view.”
In other words, a view is counted even if you didn’t seek the Tweet out, but it crosses your screen while you’re scrolling. And that is very likely to happen on the new algorithmic “For You” tab added to Twitter last January, especially if that tweet features content Twitter owner Elon Musk has a vested interest in.
But there’s more. According to Twitter, “multiple views may be counted if you view a Tweet more than once, but not all views are unique. For example, you could look at a Tweet on web and then on your phone, and that would count as two views.”
Which is to say, again, it is impossible to draw any conclusion whatsoever from the “views” count about the popularity of “Tucker on Twitter.” On the other hand, if the tracking of real engagement is any measure, the show is actually doing much, much worse than on Fox News, where until April 24 Carlson hosted what the New York Times declared to be “the most racist show in the history of cable news.”
As has happened with all press inquiries since Musk took over Twitter, a request for comment from TheWrap received an auto-response of a poop emoji.