Elon Musk becomes the most-followed person on Twitter

Elon Musk dethrones Barack Obama to become the most-followed person on Twitter – after the CEO created a special system to show users all his tweets FIRST

  • Elon Musk took over the title of most-followed Twitter account early on Monday
  • It comes soon after a revamp of Twitter’s algorithm when a Musk tweet flopped
  • The revamp seems to have given Musk’s tweets more prominence in user feeds

It doesn’t seem a coincidence that @elonmusk has become the top account on Twitter just months after its owner took control of the platform. 

Early on Monday, Musk surpassed Barack Obama as the most followed Twitter user – with 133.08 million followers compared to Obama’s 133.04 million. 

It follows the Twitter CEO ordering company engineers to create a special system that boosts his tweets following the Super Bowl on February 12. 

According to insiders, Musk ordered a revamp when his tweet about the Super Bowl didn’t get as many impressions as a similar tweet from President Joe Biden.

The billionaire deleted his ‘flopped’ tweet and threatened to fire his engineering team if they did not fix the engagement issue. 

Musk’s follower count has been rising and now stands at 133,084,622, more than Obama’s 133,042,303

Twitter CEO Elon Musk reportedly deleted his tweet about the Super Bowl last month because it didn’t get as much engagement as a similar one from President Joe Biden 

Musk’s tweet simply read ‘Go @Eagles!!!’ accompanied by US flag emoji – but Musk deleted it after it generated little more than 9.1 million impressions. 

Most-followed Twitter accounts 

1. @elonmusk – 133.08 million 

2. @BarackObama – 133.04 million

3. @justinbieber – 113.4 million

4. @katyperry – 108.5 million

5. @rihanna – 108.2 million

In comparison, Biden’s tweet – also expressing support for the Philadelphia Eagles who lost to Kansas City Chiefs – generated around 29 million impressions.

According to a report by Platformer, the incident capped off Musk’s increasing frustration over what he saw as decreasing engagement with his tweets.

He ordered staff to revamp Twitter’s algorithm – an issue internally described as ‘high urgency’ – so it would show users Musk’s tweets first. 

Hours later, Twitter users started sharing screenshots of the ‘For You’ tab showing nothing but tweets and replies from the CEO. 

The ‘For You’ tab shows popular tweets that are boosted by an algorithm– whether or not the person follows the account that posted them. 

So it seems giving Musk’s tweets more prominence has had the effect of encouraging people to click on his account and the ‘follow’ button. 

MailOnline contacted Twitter for comment in an email – but the company department is now just replying to any queries with a poo emoji. 

Musk laid off Twitter’s global comms team shortly after his takeover. 

After Twitter staff rushed to change the algorithm so it boosted Musk’s tweets, users started sharing screenshots showing nothing but tweets and replies from the CEO

Musk’s follower count has been rising since and at time of writing, he has 133,089,608 Twitter followers compared to Obama’s 133,042,468. 

Musk ‘pushed change to Twitter algorithm over jealousy’, report claims – READ MORE

A report states Musk threatened to fire engineers if they didn’t fix the problem of his tweets not getting enough impressions

Interestingly, this means Obama’s follower count has declined in a matter of hours, while Musk’s is still increasing, stats published earlier by The Verge show.  

Musk, who bought Twitter in October for $44 billion in October, has been ordering a slew of changes to the platform, both to the user experience and behind the scenes. 

Earlier this week, he announced that users who do not pay for Twitter Blue – the version of the platform that costs £11/month for Android and iOS – will no longer be able to vote in polls.

He also said non-paying users will no longer have their tweets appear in the For You tab, further incentivizing people to shell out for Twitter Blue. 

Musk said the changes will stop ‘AI bot swarms taking over’ the site, although he stopped short of explaining exactly how.

‘Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations,’ he tweeted. 

‘[This] is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle. 

‘Voting in polls will require verification for same reason.’ 

Musk said the changes are ‘the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over’

If you want to be able to vote in polls on Twitter after April 15, you’ll have to subscribe to Twitter Blue, which starts from £9.60 per month

Jake Moore, tech expert and security advisor at ESET, challenged Musk’s suggestion that the decision is anything to do with removing Twitter bots. 

Twitter Blue’s exclusive features 

From April 15 

– Tweets appear in For You 

– Vote in polls

Existing features 

– SMS two-factor authentication 

– Edit Tweet

– Bookmark Folders 

– NFT Profile Pictures 

…and many more 

‘This isn’t just a response to AI bots swarming the site, this is a response to the company haemorrhaging money,’ Moore told MailOnline. 

‘Musk has obliterated the company and is now looking at removing features from unpaid accounts.’ 

Musk also recently removed SMS two-factor authentication (2FA) from the free version – a decision Moore called ‘absurd’ that will lead to ‘so many accounts hacked’.

2FA sends an SMS message containing a code to users’ smartphone, which they have to enter to access their account, as an extra layer of security. 

One of the most controversial changes of all is the removal of the blue tick next to the names of account holders. 

The blue tick was previously a free feature granted to ‘active, notable and authentic’ accounts of people such as politicians, celebrities and journalists. 

But Musk now wants the meaning of the blue tick to be an indicator that the account ‘has an active subscription’ and is not a bot account. 

In effect, all it does it indicate that an account holder is shelling out a monthly fee for the privilege. 

It’s meant users were changing account names and photos to resemble an official account and paying to give it a blue tick to make it look authentic. 

MailOnline contacted Twitter for comment in an email – but the company department is now just replying to any queries with a poo emoji. Musk laid off its comms team shortly after his takeover  

‘Them thangs thangin’: New York Rudy Giuliani was impersonated on Twitter when Musk started messing around with the blue tick system 

What’s more, members of the Taliban have been able to pay to have blue ticks next to their account names. 

After months of delays, Twitter will finally remove blue ticks from accounts that aren’t paying starting from April 1, it confirmed last week. 

Musk has rolled out new gold and grey ticks to indicate verified businesses and government bodies, respectively – and is charging £1,000 per month for them. 

Within the company, meanwhile, Musk has laid off thousands of Twitter staff members to help curb outgoings and boost profits. 

Most recently, Musk laid off another 200 employees at the end of February – and days later Twitter experienced a three-hour outage.

A few days later, Twitter encountered further technical trouble when users became unable to see photos or post links. 

Outages have been increasing ever since Musk began running Twitter, leading to speculation that there aren’t enough staff to fix its problems.

Timeline of Elon Musk’s eventful time at Twitter so far 

October 27: Musk is officially made the new owner of Twitter, and tweets ‘the bird is freed’.

November 1: Musk confirms plans to change the system of ‘Blue Tick’ verification on Twitter, for a reduced subscription fee of $8 a month.

November 4: Musk lays off half of Twitter’s workforce as an alleged cost-cutting measure, claiming he had ‘no choice’. 

November 9: Musk launches the ‘Twitter Blue’ subscription service which verifies accounts for a monthly fee.

November 11: The Twitter Blue service is paused due to accounts purchasing verification and using it to impersonate brands and public figures.

November 12: Musk fires 80 per cent of Twitter contractors without warning.

November 15: Musk fires employees that posted negatively about him on the business messaging app Slack. The lawsuit between Musk and Twitter is dismissed.

November 16:  Twitter staff are told they need to sign a pledge to be able to stay on in their roles where they would be ‘working long hours at high intensity’ or receive three months of severance pay, resulting in a mass exodus.

November 18: A news-ticker was projected onto Twitter HQ in San Francisco dubbing Musk as a ‘space Karen’, ‘mediocre manchild’ and ‘bankruptcy baby’.

November 23: A Twitter user reported that 5.4 million phone numbers and email addresses leaked on the dark web, before his account was suspended. 

November 26: Financial Times revealed that 50 of the platform’s top 100 advertisers have paused their ads.

November 29:  Platformer reported that Twitter is in the process of reinstating around 62,000 banned accounts that each have more than 10,000 followers.

December 12: Twitter Blue is re-launched with new Blue Tick reviewing process.

January 11: Twitter starts automatically redirecting users to the ‘For You’ tab – its algorithmic feed of tweets – every time they open the app. 

February 8: Twitter expands the character limit to 4,000 for Twitter Blue subscribers in the US. Shortly after, the site encounters technical difficulties.

February 12: Musk orders staff to revamp Twitter’s tweet promotion algorithm after his Super Bowl tweet didn’t get enough impressions.  

February 15: Twitter announces it will remove SMS two-factor authentication (2FA) from the free version of Twitter – a decision a security expert labelled ‘absurd’ that will lead to ‘so many accounts hacked’.

February 25: Twitter reveals a fresh round of layoffs that brought its workforce down to under 2,000 – a sharp fall from the 7,500 employed when the billionaire first took over in October.

March 28: Musk announces it will stop people from voting in Twitter polls or having their tweets appear in the For You tab if they do not pay for Twitter Blue. 

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