Twitter’s CEO isn’t happy that his tweets aren’t getting as many views as they used to, claims a new report, and has gone as far as to demand employees explain why his engagement is falling—and to fire one when he doesn’t like the explanation.
Elon Musk called a meeting Tuesday with the social media platform’s top engineers to demand an explanation, reported Platformer, a newsletter from tech journalists Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer.
“I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions,” Musk said at the meeting, according to the report, citing multiple unidentified meeting attendees.
One engineer reportedly tried to answer Musk’s question by showing him data from Google Trends, which revealed that search interest for “Elon Musk” had peaked last April, when the billionaire first noted his interest in buying Twitter.
Google Trends gave that April peak a score of 100. As of Feb. 10, that score is now 10. According to the tracking website, interest in “Elon Musk” recovered slightly in October, scoring around 30 when Musk took control of the company. Interest has since declined.
Musk reportedly did not take the news well, telling the employee—one of two remaining principal engineers at the company—“you’re fired.”
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company reportedly no longer has a communications department to handle press requests.
How popular is Elon Musk?
Musk is one of Twitter’s most followed accounts, with 128 million followers. Tweets from the CEO of Tesla, Twitter, and SpaceX routinely get millions, if not tens of millions, of views according to data displayed by the website.
That’s more than many other accounts, even from other celebrities or public officials. (For example, tweets from former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, with almost 62 million followers, rarely break a million views.) But even tens of millions of views represent a fraction of Musk’s total follower count.
Musk regularly tweets memes and jokes from his account, which may explain the relatively greater engagement compared with the more sedate accounts from public officials, celebrities, and corporate leaders. And Musk has argued his massive Twitter following is an asset for his other businesses, telling analysts last month that his feed was “an incredibly powerful tool for driving demand for Tesla.”
Twitter started displaying view counts in late December. At the time, Musk said the view count “shows how much more alive Twitter is than it may seem, as over 90% of Twitter users read, but don’t tweet, reply, or like.” Musk’s tweeted announcement has been seen 56.5 million times, according to Twitter’s view count. Twitter’s website says that the view count includes any time a logged-in user sees a tweet.
Last week, Musk briefly made his account private to test claims from conservative commentators who argued that the measure boosted their engagement. Only followers can view tweets from a private account, and no one can share them. Musk later claimed that the test “helped identify some issues with the system.”
Twitter suffered a major outage on Wednesday, as users were blocked from tweeting, sending direct messages, or following new accounts, with some told they had exceeded a “daily limit.” Musk told employees in an internal email to pause “new feature development” and instead focus on “system stability and robustness, especially with the Super Bowl coming up.”
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