Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and new boss of Twitter, is now tweeting so frantically that we journalists can’t keep up. Probably taking advantage of slow weekend hours at his various companies — Tesla, SpaceX, Twitter — Musk has been unusually busy on Twitter. tweeting and replying, tweeting and replying. Not everything that he says is worth talking about but some of the stuff, given the status of Musk and given all that is happening around Twitter, is important enough.
So, dear reader, just to make your life easy, we have complied a quick brief of all that Musk has been up to on Twitter this weekend.
Sparring with US Senator Ed Markey
There is still a lot going around the parody and impersonation on Twitter due to the company now selling Blue Ticks of Verified for $8. A few days ago apparently someone spoofed the account US Senator ED Markey, after which Markey shot off a letter demanding explanation from Elon Musk. Now, it is now clear how much accountability Markey can demand from Musk as a US government representative. But chances are not much. So, Musk instead of responding in private decided to respond publicly on Twitter.
Markey tweeted: “A @washingtonpost reporter was able to create a verified account impersonating me-I’m asking for answers from @elonmusk who is putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation. Twitter must explain how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.”
To this, Musk decided to reply with a retort. He tweeted: “Perhaps it is because your real account sounds like a parody?”
This reply of Musk attracted a lot of response from Twitter users, many of them saying that it doesn’t make much sense for a tech tycoon and businessman to ruffle feathers of people sitting Washington DC. But Musk doubled down. To one of the tweets, he replied: “Are you suggesting the Senator will abuse his political power to attack me?”
It is worth noting that Musk is the world’s richest person and extremely well-connected. It is safe to say that he is not going to be bothered with a letter or two from some senator. And that is probably what comes across from his tweets. If you remember, just a few days Elon Musk’s lawyer reportedly told said at Twitter office that Musk wasn’t too bothered with government authorities like FTC. “Elon sends rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.”
Doing code reviews on Twitter
Elon Musk, after firing half of Twitter’s employees and almost all of its contractors, is now questioning why Twitter runs slow on Android. And he is worried because it runs slow on Android phones in poorer countries, even though just a few days ago he fired most of the Twitter employees in these same countries (in India around 90 per cent of Twitter staff has been laid off).
On weekend, Musk tweeted: “Btw, I’d like to apologize for Twitter being super slow in many countries. App is doing >1000 poorly batched RPCs just to render a home timeline!”
Interestingly, his tweet was “fact-checked” by a current Twitter engineer, who quote tweeted Musk. This engineer, Eric Frohnhoefer, said, “I have spent 6 yrs working on Twitter for Android and can say this is wrong.”
This tweet from his employee got attention of Musk, who then demanded, “Then please correct me. What is the right number… Twitter is super slow on Android. What have you done to fix that?”
The reply from the super boss apparently thrilled and delighted Eric, who then went into a lengthy explanation about his work, tweeting details in 280-characters at the time. It starts with “We have done a bunch of work to improve performance…” and then runs into several tweets. Talk about doing performance and code reviews on Twitter!
Saying no to job requests
With Elon Musk super active on Twitter and talking about the problems at the company, many people are sensing a chance. There have been several tweets made to Musk since he took over Twitter, seeking a job at the social media site. The latest is from John Legere, the former CEO of T-Mobile. On weekend, Legere offered his services to Twitter. He said, “Hi @elonmusk, maybe I should run @twitter. You can stop managing daily business, and content moderation and then support product/technology, let someone else run @Twitter. I’m expensive but so is what you paid for twitter (p.s. please be leadership example of how to tweet).
It is not clear if the tweet, littered with emojis, was a serious proposal or just a joke. The tone that Legere adopts here could mean anything. Irrespective, Musk did reply to it. He simply said: “No.”
This brought another reply from Legere, who said “That’s funnyâ€¦ I ran (T-Mobile) very well I believe until I had a successful succession to @MikeSievert after Sprint merger, and he has led @TMobile even better!”
Musk was still firm with his no. He said, “I like both you and Mike! It’s just that Twitter at its core is a software & servers company. The technology needs to evolve rapidly, which requires a technologist.”
Expensive lunch at Twitter HQ
Out of blue Musk on came out with an interesting number. He says that Twitter, before he bought it, was spending $4000 (around Rs 32,000) each day on each lunch it served to employees.
Musk tweeted, “Estimated cost per lunch served in past 12 months is >$400.”
This was fact checked by the person who ran the lunch planning and programme at Twitter before she resigned earlier. This person, Tracy Hawkins, called Musk’s tweet a lie. She said, “This is a lie. I ran this program up until a week ago when I resigned because I didn’t want to work for @elonmusk. For breakfast & lunch we spent $20-$25 a day per person. This enabled employees to work thru lunchtime & mtgs. Attendance was anything from 20-50 per cent in the offices.”
Musk, in turn, called Tracy a liar. “False. Twitter spends $13M/year on food service for SF HQ. Badge in records show peak occupancy was 25 per cent, average occupancy below 10 per cent. There are more people preparing breakfast than eating breakfast. They don’t even bother serving dinner, because there is no one in the building.”
Deleted a tweet after users fact checked him
Elon Musk has been “fact-checked” by Twitter’s automated Community Notes aka Birdwatch a couple of times in recent days. His latest tweet to be fact checked was about the traffic that Twitter sends to media sites like India Today Tech. Musk, almost sounding like Donald Trump, said, “Twitter drives a massive number of clicks to other websites (and) apps. Biggest click driver on the internet by far.”
This was quickly “fact-checked” by people. And people were right. If we just go by the example of India Today Tech and other websites that are part of our group, we can safely say that Elon Musk was talking absolute nonsense on this count. Twitter, as a traffic referral, is minuscule.
Probably Musk realised this after a while. So when his tweet was fact-checked by Twitter’s automated systems, he deleted it.
And there is more…
In addition to all this Musk also:
— Tweeted that soon Twitter will verify organisations, and then organisation will have the power to verify Twitter accounts that belong to them. In a word, a system similar to “self-attested” that will be clear to any Indian who has ever dealt with a government department.
— Tweeted that Twitter Blue is getting tweaked. Its rollout has been paused for now. But it is expected to come back soon.
— Tweeted that “Amphetamines negatively affect empathy, psychedelics do the opposite.”
Plus, of course, there is more. Like replies with one word or two and emojis like ROFL. Like we said, Musk had a busy weekend!