There were a few major disappointments at this year’s Super Bowl. The biggest, obviously, is that the Philadelphia Eagles lost. Some of the commercials weren’t so hot (or at least panic-inducing). And if you were Elon Musk, you were mad that your Super Bowl tweet had less engagement than a similar one by President Joe Biden. In fact, if you were Elon Musk, you’d do the sensible thing: delete it then order your techies to make a big change to the algorithm.
As per Platformer, on Sunday Musk picked sides in Sunday’s big game with a tweet that read, simply, “Go #Eagles!!” It got about 9.1 million impressions. Not bad — but not as good as Biden’s, in which he retweeted his wife, an Eagles fan, who posted a video of her wearing an Eagles shirt emblazoned with her surname.
“As your president, I’m not picking favorites,” he wrote. “But as Jill Biden’s husband, fly Eagles, fly.” That post got nearly 29 million impressions, handily housing Musk’s. So Musk did the mature thing and deleted it, as confirmed by Snopes.
But that wasn’t all. Having been at the game — sitting next to Rupert Murdoch, no less — he then flew back to Twitter HQ in the Bay Area and threatened to fire staffers who wouldn’t rework the algorithm so his tweets essentially received a kind of favoritism. As per Platformer:
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By Monday afternoon, “the problem” had been “fixed.” Twitter deployed code to automatically “greenlight” all of Musk’s tweets, meaning his tweets will bypass Twitter’s filters designed to show people the best content possible. The algorithm now artificially boosted Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000 – a constant score that ensured his tweets rank higher than anyone else’s in the feed.
What Musk’s account received was what is internally called a “power user multiplier.” However, the “chief twit” is the only user who receives the luxury.
Musk even appeared to be tweeting through it.
Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… “algorithm”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 14, 2023
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And so anyone who hadn’t muted or blocked Musk’s account suddenly saw him everywhere in their feed. He even joked about forcing Twitter users to see his tweets, whether they wanted to or not, with a meme involving a woman forcing another to drink milk. That post, incidentally, received 118.4 million impressions — exponentially more than his not exactly creative pro-Eagles post.
Of course, as some Twitter engineers argued, perhaps Musk’s posts were, in his opinion, underperforming is because so many people had either muted or blocked him. Since taking over the platform, his account has not exactly been one of its most popular. But surely one way of making people like you more is forcing them to notice you.