On March 7, 2023, a screenshot went viral supposedly showing a tweet by Elon Musk in which he announced Twitter employees who "are a 7 or below" were immediately fired. The tweet was fake.
he really can't help himself pic.twitter.com/bI2MCNe4Cn
— soul nate (@MNateShyamalan) March 7, 2023
"He really can't help himself," Twitter user @MNateShyamalan wrote, sharing the screenshot. We reached out to that account, which appeared to be the source of the fake tweet. We will update this post if we hear back.
We looked through Musk's tweets, including those that have been deleted and archived by PolitiTweet, and did not find the alleged post. Analytics for the fake tweet showed it was supposedly posted at 8:03 p.m. on March 4. It had roughly 21.2 million "views' and 65,200 "likes."
We found an authentic tweet from Musk's account posted on that same date and time. "Aiming to roll out ability to reply to individual DMs, use any reaction emoji & encryption later this month," it said.
Aiming to roll out ability to reply to individual DMs, use any reaction emoji & encryption later this month
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2023
Musk's real tweet had about 21.6 million "views" at the time of publication, an amount slightly greater than the number of "views" in the screenshot. The amount of "likes" and "retweets" between the real and fabricated tweets were similar as well, indicating the person who made the fake tweet likely used the March 4 post about direct messaging as a starting point.
The fake tweet having less engagement than the real post could reasonably be because more people interacted with the authentic tweet after the screenshot was taken.
The screenshot circulated while Musk faced criticism for mocking a Twitter employee with a disability after the employee asked about his employment status in a series of tweets tagging the CEO. It also came in the middle of a Federal Trade Commission investigation into whether layoffs could harm Twitter's ability to protect users' information.