Elon Musk and Right-Wing Friends Do Us a Favor By Hiding Their Tweets
Unless you were following him already, today you are unable to view the tweets from Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk. That’s because, like a micro-celebrity going through a public breakup or a main character getting ratioed for a bad take, he has set his account on “private.”
Aside from being a huge relief, Musk concealing his epic tweets from everyone but his 127 million closest friends is supposed to be an experiment of sorts. “Made my account private until tomorrow morning to test whether you see my private tweets more than my public ones,” he tweeted late on Tuesday night.
You see, the site’s right-wing power users, despite huge audiences and reliable engagement, have long persisted in the belief that Twitter is throttling their reach. In truth, the platform has always amplified conservatives more than left-wing content. But the right wants, more than almost anything, to prove they are victims of Big Tech censorship, and after a brief period of acting like Musk had solved that imaginary problem, they have started to hold him responsible for the crisis of Posts Not Getting Liked Enough.
The latest theory from this camp — based, like all the others, on certain influencers feeling entitled to wider popularity — holds that a tweet will receive more “views” if the user has locked their account. You may recall that introducing a view count, separate from likes, retweets and replies, was a superficial change made under Musk to demonstrate that tweets are seen by far more people than may engage with them. Instead, it has become another metric that the site’s chief complainers use as evidence of shadowbans and algorithmic hijinks.
Of course, setting your account to “private” to increase your engagement is somewhat counterintuitive, as you’re hiding tweets from potential new followers and, more importantly, preventing anyone else from sharing them with their own followers. Jordan Peterson noted the problem when Ben Shapiro announced that he was trying the lock trick, plaintively replying, “Ben I can’t retweet you now.” Shapiro later unlocked, allowing us to read the edifying exchange in full.
Why would setting a hard limit on the number of users who can read and respond to your tweets boost overall impressions? These folks don’t know, and neither does Musk, who has fired so many Twitter employees that he’s been reduced to toying around with his own account as if he stands a chance of gleaning any technical information this way.
And he needn’t bother. By the end of the week, the site’s most aggrieved ideologues will have a new, probably even dumber explanation of how Twitter has suppressed them and what they can do to circumvent those controls. It has yet to occur to these geniuses that the puzzling data they harp on could be a product of Twitter’s multiplying bugs and glitches. It’s not always a conspiracy, folks! Sometimes the site’s just an understaffed piece of shit, run by a guy whose business strategy changes like a mood ring.
For a moment, though, we can be happy that the most strident windbags, convinced of their persecution at the hands of anonymous engineers, have granted us a brief respite by effectively silencing themselves. Too bad it won’t last.
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