I noticed something funny on Twitter today. I had Elon Musk appearing in my newsfeed. This might be a regular occurrence for most people on the social media platform, since he’s a prolific tweeter, but Musk actually blocked me back in 2019. Musk had apparently decided to no longer block me and, as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one.
Musk confirmed Monday night that he unblocked everyone he’s ever blocked over the years. And it likely has something to do with Musk’s recent frustration that he wasn’t getting enough engagement on the service that he paid $44 billion to own.
“I did delete all blocks from my account (shouldn’t affect anyone else),” Musk tweeted on Friday in response to a tweet speculating about the change.
Oddly enough, Musk didn’t block me over anything I wrote to him on Twitter. In December 2019, the Twitter CEO blocked my article on Musk and his first wild ride in the Cybertruck. Musk hit a pylon while leaving the restaurant—a pylon that read “no left turns,” while he was making a left turn. I poked fun at the vehicle and his driving ability in the story, but I didn’t send Musk the story or even interact with him. After the publication of my story, however, I realized I was being blocked. He’d clearly seen the story and sought me out on Twitter to make sure I couldn’t see his tweets ever again. So I believed.
Musk has recently fielded complaints from high-profile accounts, including right-wing commentators like Andy Ngo and Catturd2, that they weren’t seeing the same kind of reach they normally received on the messaging service. These people reported that likes and replies were down. Musk, who is always the customer representative for his companies promised to examine it.
“They’ve screwed up the algorithms so much on @Twitter that everyone is completely invisible and engagements are almost down to nothing. It’s almost not worth being on here anymore,” Catturd2 tweeted late last month.
“This shouldn’t be hard. Take the F-king algorithms and shadowbans off so we can see each other!” Catturd2 continued.
Musk investigated the matter last week and met with engineers to find out why users were reporting lower engagement. Musk reportedly asked what was going on, noting that he’d seen his own engagement down recently, but the billionaire didn’t like the answer he received. One of the engineers apparently told Musk that they couldn’t see any technical reason for his engagement dropping, and speculated that it might have something to do with the public simply being tired of his antics, according to a report from tech news site Platformer. Musk dismissed the engineer immediately.
Musk believes there are technical reasons behind his low engagement on Twitter. After all, he’s constantly stealing only the best content from his legion of fans. Musk recently asked users to “like” a car ad for Hyundai, something that was unusual if only because the car being advertised is electric—a direct competitor of Musk’s Tesla electric vehicles. However, even this interaction resulted in incredibly low results. Musk’s tweet got more likes than ad.
As I’ve pointed out before, there were lots of conspiracy theories swirling around Musk when he was forced to buy Twitter back in October 2022, including the idea that he was trying to swing the 2022 midterm elections for the Republicans. But this most recent move to unblock everyone he’s ever blocked over the years is more evidence for my theory on why he really bought Twitter: Musk simply wants to be adored by millions of people and Twitter is a great way to chase that dream.
Musk has more than 128 million Twitter followers. He probably gained even more by mass-unblocking many users today. And while I don’t know for certain what the future holds for Musk’s management of the social media company, I can predict that whatever he does it will be in the service of chasing more adoration and more fans.
It’s a tired old saying, but it’s absolutely true. You can’t buy love. Even if you’re one of the wealthiest people on the planet.