Since Elon Musk became the boss of Twitter, the social network would arbitrarily favor around thirty accounts, to monitor their power and be able to give them more visibility at times. There are many political and media personalities, mainly male. Among them, there is of course Elon Musk, himself.
It seems distant, the time when Elon Musk promised a social network on which everyone would be “treated equally”. With each new Twitter update, the billionaire shows that he never had the faintest idea of how to manage a platform with more than 300 million users in a fair and balanced way.
It is established that the boss of Tesla believes that all Internet users are equal, except those who give him 8 dollars a month. Subscribers to Twitter Blue, the paid subscription which notably allows them to obtain a small blue verification badge, are increasingly favored by the platform: their tweets are put forward in relation to others, and they will soon be the only ones who can answer surveys and appear in the “For You” news feed. It doesn’t matter that half of these accounts are followed by less than 1,000 subscribers.
There is, however, another category of Internet users favored by Elon Musk’s Twitter, a much more restricted fringe of users: 35 accounts that the social network would have selected by hand and favored arbitrarily, without saying so publicly. This is the discovery of the Platformer news site, which was released it on March 28, 2023, after gaining access to confidential internal documents.
Who is on Twitter’s 35 “VIP” list?
This list of “VIPs” obviously contains the name of Elon Musk (it was not difficult to understand, given the omnipresence of his tweets in the news feeds), but also those of:
- Joe Biden, the President of the United States,
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the popular Democrat (who had repeatedly complained of being invisible to Twitter),
- LeBron James, NBA star,
- Ben Shapiro, conservative commentator,
- Catturd2 (which literally means “cat shit”), an anonymous account close to the ultra-right,
- Marc Andreessen, a Twitter investor,
- The community account of Tesla (the company of Elon Musk),
- Dril, a widely followed anonymous comedy account,
- Comedian Jaboukie Young-White,
- MrBeast, the YouTube star,
- Matt Yglesias, an American tech journalist,
- Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist who helped spread the NSA wiretapping scandal revealed by Edward Snowden
- Noah Smith, an American journalist specializing in the economy,
- Adrian Wojnarowski, American sports columnist
The tweets of these users were more prominent on the “For You” page
The list is not published in full, as this could endanger the source of the American media. Indeed, the “list of 35” could change from moment to moment, and only a few employees were aware of the names on it. If all 35 accounts were unearthed, Twitter executives might be able to identify the media’s source.
According to Platform, picked up by ArsTechnica, the list of 35 was put together after Elon Musk was outraged that a tweet from President Joe Biden was more successful than his. What is it supposed to be used for? Keep an eye out for the engagement generated by tweets from very famous and highly followed accounts.” If engineers noticed that certain tweets were ‘dropping’, they could modify the code to ensure that tweets from those accounts were still displayed,” sources told Platformer.
Result: the tweets of these thirty users were regularly put forward more than others on the “For You” page of Twitter – which, for a while, was the default.
For the moment, Elon Musk has not commented on this information.