Political commentator and podcaster Dave Rubin met with Twitter owner Elon Musk to discuss seemingly inconsistent engagement on the platform.
Rubin, along with other Twitter users, claimed their accounts’ engagement spiked following Musk’s acquisition of the company, though dwindled in the weeks following.
The tech billionaire invited Rubin to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, California to talk with engineers, product managers, and Musk about the alleged inconsistent engagement.
Musk reportedly said Rubin was free to divulge “anything that’s true” regarding their meeting.
“Learned a ton about what’s going on. Before I share, [I] want to note that after [a] couple hour meeting I asked Elon what I could share and he said, ‘anything that’s true,'” Rubin said in a Thursday Twitter thread.
Spent last two days at Twitter in SF talking to engineers, product managers and yes, @elonmusk. Learned a ton about what’s going on. Before I share, want to note that after couple hour meeting I asked Elon what I could share and he said, “anything that’s true.”
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) January 26, 2023
The tech billionaire reportedly said Twitter was “a fractal rube Goldberg machine” referring to the platform as a chain reaction-type machine designed to perform simple tasks in impractical and complicated ways. Musk further likened the platform to a Jenga tower.
“One wrong move the whole thing collapses,” Rubin said. “They’re working nonstop, and both times I met him were after midnight.”
Previous Twitter owners reportedly incorporated “secret” shadow ban labels on top of previous shadow ban tactics revealed by the Twitter Files, Rubin said.
Rubin noted his account was labeled “Recent abuse strike,” “Recent misinformation strike,” and “Recent suspension strike.”
“It’s unclear so far what these strikes actually do, but for sure they suppress views and recommendations, they are trying to figure out to what extent,” Rubin continued. “I also had many innocuous tweets labeled NSFW or NSFA (not safe for ads) which affect visibility in the timeline.”
Twitter executives reportedly employed a “keyword database” which filters promotion of violence, adult content, and other keywords unfavorable for advertisers.
“Literally the word ‘gay’ was on the KeyWord list which would make you not advertiser friendly and harm the tweet in the [algorithm],” he continued, noting his most recent suspension strike was in July 2022 when the podcaster was suspended from the platform following his criticism of Twitter suspending clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson’s account for “misgendering” actor Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page.
Peterson was instructed to delete his tweet, which pointed out Page had undergone a mastectomy surgery, to which the clinical psychologist said he would “rather die” than comply with Twitter’s request.
“Elon was bringing people in and out constantly and seems to be aware of pretty much every issue,” Rubin said, noting the tech billionaire suggested the platform’s code may need to be “torn down” and rebuilt “from scratch.”
“At the end last night he said that the whole situation is ‘a flaming dumpster rolling down the street.'”
Rubin noted recent Twitter changes, including the incorporation of a “for you” tab has impacted engagement for accounts which received NSFA tags.
“They also don’t know for sure why things got so much better once Elon made the acquisition and why it seems far worse now,” he continued. “Some is probably related to excitement around Elon himself, which also coincided with World Cup, but that doesn’t explain why it feels so off right now.”
“Elon is funny as hell, laughs a ton and it’s just really obvious he cares about Twitter because he cares about free speech and the bigger problems facing the world,” Rubin concluded. “He doesn’t need this headache, he chose it.”