Troubles continue for Twitter under billionaire braggadocio Elon Musk. Amid complaints about declining engagement, Musk set his account to private to see if more people saw his tweets.
“Made my account private until tomorrow morning to test whether you see my private tweets more than my public ones,” Musk tweeted.
Locking your account keeps anyone who doesn’t follow you from seeing your tweets. It also requires you to approve new followers and prohibits even your followers from retweeting you. While in theory that would decrease engagement, of late, users have speculated that being private might push your tweets in front of followers better, either because of an algorithm tweak or a bug on the site.
Musk was among many conservative influencers with huge follower counts who tried this experiment on Wednesday. After a big spike in engagement after Musk’s takeover, conservatives are again complaining of shadowbans and downranking.
The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, Chaya Raichik of the homophobic Libs of TikTok account, Cassandra MacDonald of the Gateway Pundit, and others joined Musk behind the veil of protected tweets.
The effort wasn’t without issues. Jordan Peterson complained to Shapiro, “Ben I can’t retweet you now.”
Their ideological opponents think it’s hilarious that right-wingers are so desperate for interactions on the bird app that they’re locking their accounts.
“Conservatives continuing their valiant fight against the omnipresent algorithms,” commented @highprogressive.
“It’s genuinely hysterical that Elon Musk has locked his account to test the working theory that private accounts see improved engagement,” SVegvari tweeted. “Twitter’s algorithm is in such a poor state to the point the CEO has to do field experiments instead of, you know, an engineering department.”
Some of the people who locked their accounts implored their followers to engage with their posts, which could defeat the purpose of the experiment.
“Alright trying this private hack to see if it’s legit since nobody is seeing [my] tweets today. If you’re seeing this please respond with a picture of an 80’s sitcom character,” right-wing mouthpiece Dave Rubin tweeted.
The rumor that setting accounts to private improves engagement has been circulating for a while.
As of this writing, Musk’s announcement about setting his account to private had 22 million views. Some of his recent tweets have a fraction of that number, while others have more than twice the views. Musk has 128 million followers on Twitter.
Even those who believe that tweets from locked accounts get more views wonder how that will work long term.
“It seems like this locked account deal is a thing,” @AdamLaxalt tweeted. “Are we really all supposed to lock our accounts? How does that make sense?”