Elon Musk tries to expose reporters, but Twitter’s own data proves him wrong

Elon Musk’s worst enemy may be his own website.

On Friday, Twitter owner Elon Musk began pushing back(Opens in a new tab) in return for reports that the company tweaked the platform’s algorithm specifically to boost Musk’s own tweets over the past week.

“Several major media sources falsely reported that my Tweets were pushed above normal levels earlier this week,” Musk tweeted. “An assessment of my Tweet likes and views over the past 6 months, especially as a ratio of followers, shows this to be false.”

Musk went on to explain that there was “a bug that briefly caused replies to have the same prominence as primary tweets, but that has now been fixed.” At the time, Musk did acknowledge(Opens in a new tab) a problem with the ‘algorithm’.

However, Musk’s claims are refuted by Twitter’s own data, which shows a large increase in impressions of Musk’s tweets that match the reported timeline for Twitter’s algorithm changes.

Researcher Timothy Graham from the Queensland University of Technology analysed(Opens in a new tab) the data, pulled directly from Twitter’s official API, and found it(Opens in a new tab) that impressions on Musk’s tweets were up 737 percent on Feb. 13, the day after the Super Bowl, shortly after the reported algorithm changes were made. In the days that followed, well after Musk’s tweet acknowledged an algorithm problem, daily impressions on Musk’s tweets nearly tripled.

Musk backed up his version of the story by tweeting what he called a “review” of his “Tweet likes and views over the past 6 months.” As evidence of this assessment, he provided a screenshot(Opens in a new tab) of the 311 million impressions one of his tweets – the one about putting cocaine back in Coca-Cola – received in April last year, noting that none of his subsequent tweets have “closed” to that number yet. But it should be noted that individual tweets from users with fewer than 1,000 followers routinely go viral and rack up millions of views.

If Platform game(Opens in a new tab) First reported, Twitter engineers were tasked with making changes to the website shortly after the Super Bowl on Sunday after one of Musk’s tweets went down, as well as a similar post from President Joe Biden. The following afternoon, a “fix” was pushed to Twitter that “artificially amplified Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000”.

The change in Twitter’s algorithm was so obvious that users started complain that their feeds were filled with Musk’s tweets.

Anyway, Musk is to claim(Opens in a new tab) that the Platformer report was “bogus” and that the outlet’s source is a “disgruntled employee who had been on paid leave for months, had already accepted a job at Google, and felt the need to poison the well on the way out.” Musk then claimed that Twitter would take legal action against the individual.

Platform game Casey Newton replied(Opens in a new tab) that Musk’s claims were false and that the outlet stood by his story.

This isn’t the first time Twitter’s own data has debunked claims made by Musk or his defenders this week.

On Thursday, Musk fans falsely claimed that a Mashable story regarding Tesla’s unsubscribing from Twitter Blue was incorrect. There was a community comment attached to Mashable’s tweet with a link to the story stating that because Tesla has been business verified with the gold check, it couldn’t be a Twitter Blue subscriber to begin with.

Musk signaled(Opens in a new tab) his support for this use of Twitter’s Community Notes in a tweet.

However, Twitter’s own data, taken from the official API, showed that Tesla did indeed opt out of Twitter Blue in the past week. Further data as long as(Opens in a new tab) examples of business verified accounts with gold check marks that are Also(Opens in a new tab) subscribed to Twitter Blue, disproving the claim that Tesla’s Twitter Blue subscription was not possible in the first place.

The Community Note was later removed from the Mashable tweet that linked to the Twitter Blue story.






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