For several weeks now, Elon Musk has been worrying about how many people are seeing his tweets. Last week, Twitter’s CEO took his Twitter account private for a day to test whether it could increase the size of his audience. The move comes after several prominent right-wing accounts talks with musk complained that recent changes to Twitter had reduced their reach.
On Tuesday, Musk gathered a group of engineers and consultants in a room at Twitter’s headquarters in search of answers. Why are her engagement numbers tanking?
“It’s ridiculous,” he said, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. “I have over 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”
One of the company’s two remaining chief engineers offered a possible explanation for Musk’s dwindling reach: Just a year after the Tesla CEO made his surprise offer to buy Twitter for $44 billion, public interest in his antics has waned. Is happening
“You’re fired, you’re fired.”
The staff showed Musk internal data regarding engagement with his account with a Google Trends chart. Last April, he told her, Musk was at “peak” popularity in search rankings, indicated by a score of “100.” Today he is on the score of nine. Engineers had previously investigated whether Musk’s access had been artificially restricted, but found no evidence that the algorithm was biased against him.
Kasturi didn’t take the news well.
Musk told the engineer, “You’re fired, you’re fired.” ,platformer The engineer’s name is withheld in light of the harassment directed by Musk at former Twitter employees.)
Dissatisfied with the work the engineers are doing so far, Musk has instructed employees to track how many times each of his tweets is recommended, according to a current worker.
It’s been seven weeks now that Twitter added a public view count to every tweet. At the time, Musk promised that the feature would give the world a better understanding of how alive the platform is.
“Shows that Twitter is more alive than it seems, as over 90% of Twitter users read, but do not tweet, reply or like, as these are public actions,” he tweeted,
Nearly two months later, however, view counts have had the opposite effect, emphasizing how little engagement most posts generate relative to their audience size. At the same time, according to a recent study, Twitter usage in the United States has declined by about 9 percent since Musk’s takeover.
Twitter sources say that the view count feature itself may be contributing to the drop in engagement and hence, views. The Like and Retweet buttons were scaled down to accommodate the display of views, making them difficult to tap easily.
“There’s chaos here right now, so we’re sending chaos.”
A more obvious reason for the decline in engagement is Twitter’s increasingly messy product, which has baffled users with its disappearing mentions, shifting algorithmic priorities and randomly inserted tweets from accounts they don’t follow. We do. On Wednesday, the company suffered one of its first major outages since Musk took over, telling users inexplicably, “You have exceeded the daily limit for sending tweets.”
It turns out that an employee inadvertently deleted data meant for an internal service that sets rate limits for using Twitter. The team that worked on that service left the company in November.
“As the saying goes, ‘you send your organization chart,’” said one current employee. “There’s chaos here right now, so we’re sending chaos.”
Interviews with current Twitter employees paint a picture of a deeply troubled workplace, where Musk’s whim-based approach to product management leaves employees scrambling to implement new features even as the core service falls apart. . The dislocation makes it less likely that Musk will ever recoup the $44 billion he spent to buy Twitter and could hasten the slide into bankruptcy.
“We haven’t seen much in the way of a long-term, concrete strategy,” said one employee. “Most of our time is devoted to three main areas: putting out fires (mostly due to trying to shoot and recover from the wrong people), doing impossible tasks, and ‘efficiency improvement’ without clear guidelines of expected end results. .. From my perspective we mostly go from dumpster fire to dumpster fire.
Musk’s product feedback, which comes primarily from replies to his tweets, often baffles his workers.
One employee said, “Sometimes he wakes up late at night and talks all kinds of things that don’t make sense.” “And then he’ll come to us and be like, ‘This one person says they can’t do this one thing on stage,’ and then we have to chase down some external use cases for that one person. It makes sense.” Not there.”
The San Francisco headquarters, whose landlord is suing Twitter for nonpayment of rent, has a somber air. When people pass each other in the halls, we’re told that the standard greeting is “Where are you interviewing?” and “Where do you have offers?” The eighth floor is still full of beds, and staff must reserve them in advance.
Another current employee said, “Most weekends, they’re fully booked.”
The perks that made Twitter an attractive place to work ex-Musk have been erased. Eating at the office? “Sucks – and now we have to pay for it. And, I know it sounds trite, but it looks like they’ve got the worst coffee salespeople on earth.
Slack — once the epicenter of Twitter’s open culture, where employees discussed anything and everything — went dormant. A current employee described it as a “ghost town”.
The employee said, “People don’t even talk about work things anymore.” “It’s just heartbreaking. I interact with my colleagues more on Signal and WhatsApp than on Slack. Before the transition, it was not unusual in the team channel to talk about what everyone did that weekend. Now there is nothing like that.
When Kasturi or the goons ask questions, the employees are torn between giving the right answer and a safe answer.
“When you’re asked a question, you run it through your head and say ‘What’s the least fireable response I can have at this moment?’ An employee explained.
“Twitter 2.0” Has Managed To Improve On Its Predecessor In At Least Some Ways
(Of course, this isn’t true for everyone in the company. “There are a handful of true believers who are clearly just ass-kissers and brown-nosers trying to take advantage of the apparent vacuum that exists,” said the same employee. says.)
Despite the upheaval, remaining employees say that what they call “Twitter 2.0” has managed to improve over its predecessor in at least some ways.
One employee said, “In the past, Twitter was often run by committees that went nowhere.” “I appreciate the fact that if you want to do something that you think will improve something, you generally have a license to do it. But it’s a double-edged sword – moving so fast Unintended consequences may occur.
The employee cited Twitter Blue’s disastrous relaunch, which resulted in impersonation of brands and dozens of top advertisers fleeing the platform.
The employee said, “If Elon can learn how to put a little more thought into certain decisions, and fire a little less from the hip, it could do some good.” “He needs to learn the areas where he just doesn’t know things and let those who do know take it.”
At the same time, “he really doesn’t like to believe that there’s anything in technology that he doesn’t know, and that’s frustrating,” the employee said. “You can’t be the smartest person in the room about everything, all the time.”
“Their stance is basically ‘Fuck you, regulators.’
With Musk continuing to fire people on a whim, entire teams have been wiped out, and their work is being delegated to other overburdened teams who often have little understanding of the new work being assigned to them.
One employee said, “They have to be code archaeologists to dig through the repo and figure out what’s going on.”
Meanwhile, the recent wave of layoffs in the tech industry has contributed to a sense of paralysis among those who remain on Twitter.
One employee said, “I think the overall pullback in technology lately, and the fear of not being able to find something else, is the primary factor for most people.” “I know it for a fact that most people on my team are fanatical interview prep and will jump at any opportunity to walk away.”
There is also unease about how the recent changes will be reviewed by regulators. As part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Twitter committed to following a number of steps before moving forward with the changes, including creating a project proposal and conducting a security and privacy review.
Employees said those moves have been an afterthought since Musk took office. “Their stance is basically ‘Fuck you, regulators,’” we’re told.
We’re told the FTC plans to audit the company this quarter, and employees doubt Twitter has the necessary documents to pass the inspection. “FTC compliance is concerning,” says Ek.
Last year, before Musk took over, the FTC fined Twitter $150 million for breaching its agreement. Another violation would almost certainly result in millions of dollars in additional fines and a flurry of news coverage — just the thing, perhaps, to get Musk’s tweets noticed again.