Elon Musk tries to debunk journalists, but Twitter’s own data proves him wrong

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

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

“Several major media sources falsely reported that my tweets were amplified above normal levels earlier this week,” Musk tweeted. “A review of my Tweet likes and views over the past 6 months, particularly as a follower ratio, shows this to be false.”

Musk further explained that there was “a bug that briefly caused replies to have the same prominence as primary Tweets, but 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 big boost in views on Musk’s tweets that align with the reported timeline of Twitter’s algorithm changes.

Queensland University of Technology researcher Timothy Graham analyzed(Opens in a new tab) the data, which was obtained directly from Twitter’s official API, and found(Opens in a new tab) that impressions on Musk’s tweets were up 737 percent on February 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 about what he called a “review” of his “Tweet likes & views over the past 6 months.” In proof of this review he gave 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 last April, noting that none of his subsequent tweets have “come close” to that number yet. But it should be noted that individual tweets from users with less than 1,000 followers routinely go viral, racking up millions of views.

As Platforms(Opens in a new tab) first reported, Twitter engineers were tasked with making changes to the site shortly after the Super Bowl on Sunday after one of Musk’s tweets failed to perform as well as a similar post from President Joe Biden. The next afternoon, a Twitter “fix” was pushed out that “artificially increased Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000.”

The change to Twitter’s algorithm was so obvious that users started complaining that their feeds were filling up with Musk’s tweets.

Either way, Musk is claim(Opens in a new tab) that the Platformer report was “false” and that the source of the outlet is a “disgruntled employee who had been on paid leave for several 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.

Platformer Casey Newton answered(Opens in a new tab) that Musk’s claims were inaccurate and that the outlet stood by its story.

This is not 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 Miscible history regarding Tesla’s unsubscribing from Twitter Blue was false. A community note attached to Mashable’s tweet linking to the story insisted that because Tesla is business verified with the gold badge, it cannot be a Twitter Blue subscriber to begin with.

Musk signalled(Opens in a new tab) his support for this use of Twitter’s community notes in a tweet.

However, Twitter’s own data pulled from its official API showed that Tesla did indeed cancel its Twitter Blue subscription last week. Further the data made sure of(Opens in a new tab) examples of business verified accounts with gold badges 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *