Elon Musk Seems to Think His Own Employees Are Shadowbanning Him
Elon Musk loves Twitter so much, he spent $44 billion buying it. But now, under the billionaire’s leadership, the site isn’t doing so hot. Between layoffs and quasi-voluntary departures, Twitter has lost more than an estimated three-quarters of the staff it once had.
This week, Musk brought the company’s headcount down by at least one more— firing one of the site’s top engineers over his personal Twitter account’s engagement numbers, according to a Thursday report from Platformer.
As the tech outlet describes: The billionaire called a meeting over the relatively low number of impressions his tweets have been getting recently. In response, engineers attempted to demonstrate with data that maybe people are just tired of hearing from and about Musk. The Twitter workers showed the CEO a Google trend chart that illustrates the amount of interest in Musk has fallen by a factor of 10 since April 2022, along with other internal data.
In a retaliatory outburst, Musk sacked one of the engineers on the spot. “You’re fired, you’re fired,” he declared, according to Platformer’s journalists and attributed to unnamed sources close to the matter.
The billionaire has further reportedly asked employees to spend their already stretched time keeping track of how often each of his posts are recommended to Twitter users.
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Since Musk’s turbulent reign began, Twitter has been losing advertising revenue and users alike. One recently published report found that the site’s number of active U.S. users declined by nearly 9% between October 2022 and January 2023. Some are probably put off by Musk himself, and others by the diminishing quality of the platform.
In the bedlam of post-purchase Twitter, the site has instituted a number of unpopular changes that nobody asked for. Often, after inevitable backlash, the adjustments end up being temporary or partial, and either way it’s difficult to keep track of what’s actually going on at the platform: what features are in, what’s out; what works, what doesn’t.
An example of one of the latest points of confusion: Private accounts might not actually be private, and/or the view counter that Musk has become so frustrated with might be totally wrong. On Thursday, Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz posted about her own Twitter test that seemingly reveals something is off. On a private, locked account with zero followers, Lorenz still logged tens of views on tweets.
Then, just yesterday, Twitter experienced a mass outage. Users were incorrectly sent messages telling them they’d reached their “Tweet limit” for the day. Note: Twitter actually does have a tweet limit of 2,400 posts per 24-hours—but in this case, the warnings were erroneous.
Though the origins of the outage were initially mysterious, the new Platformer report offers an explanation for that too. Apparently, an employee unintentionally deleted data for the “internal service that sets rate limits for using Twitter,” the outlet wrote. The numerous people that used to manage that rate limit service haven’t been employed at Twitter since November.
“As the adage goes, ‘you ship your org chart,’” one current employee told Platformer. “It’s chaos here right now, so we’re shipping chaos.”