There were some major disappointments at this year’s Super Bowl. Most important, of course, is that the The Philadelphia Eagles lost. Some of the commercials weren’t so hot (or at least causing panic). And if you were Elon Musk, you were angry that your Super Bowl tweet got less engagement than a similar tweet from President Joe Biden. In fact, if you were Elon Musk, you’d do the sensible thing: delete him and then order your techs to make a big change to the algorithm.
According Platform, on Sunday, Musk chose his side in Sunday’s big game with a tweet that simply read “Go #Eagles!!” It got around 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 herself wearing an Eagles shirt emblazoned with her last name.
“As president, I do not pick favorites,” he wrote. “But as Jill Biden’s husband, fly Eagles, fly.” This post got nearly 29 million impressions, easily sheltering Musk’s. So Musk did the mature thing and deleted it, as confirmed by snopes.
But that was not all. Having been to the game — sitting next to Rupert Murdoch, no less — he then returned to Twitter’s Bay Area headquarters and threatened to fire staffers who didn’t rework the algorithm, so his tweets essentially received some sort of patronage. According Platform:
Monday afternoon, “the problem” had been “resolved”. Twitter has rolled out code to automatically “allow” all of Musk’s tweets, meaning his tweets will bypass Twitter’s filters designed to show people the best possible content. The algorithm now artificially boosted Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000 – a consistent score that ensured his tweets ranked higher than those of anyone else in the feed.
What Musk’s account received was what’s internally called a “power user multiplier.” However, the “twit leader” is the only user who receives the luxury.
Musk even seemed to tweet through him.
Please stay tuned as we make adjustments to the er.…”algorithm”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 14, 2023
And so, anyone who hadn’t cut or blocked Musk’s account suddenly saw him all over his feed. He even joked about forcing Twitter users to see his tweets whether they like it or not, with a meme involving a woman forcing another to drink milk. Incidentally, this post received 118.4 million impressions, exponentially more than his not-so-creative pro-Eagles post.
Of course, as some Twitter engineers argued, perhaps Musk’s posts were, in his view, underperforming because so many people had either muted or blocked him. Since taking over the platform, his account isn’t exactly one of the most popular. But one of the ways to make people like you more is to force them to notice you.