top of page

Hubris Syndrome and the ‘Audience of One’ Conundrum

It appears that self-proclaimed ‘free speech absolutist’ Elon Musk is willing to place conditions on this freedom when he’s not positioned in a favourable or prominent light – could this be hubris?

Three of the hallmarks of hubris are preoccupation with one’s image, impulsivity, and contempt for criticism. These traits presented themselves when, directly following the American Superbowl championship in February 2023 when Musk took immediate action after learning that US President Joe Biden received more engagement on a Superbowl-themed tweet than he had.

As originally reported in Platformer and summarised by Yahoo! Finance, Musk demanded that algorithms be re-written to prioritise his tweets above any others user-preferred algorithms, and terminated one of two principal engineers when it was this employee suggested that a decline in algorithm favourability could be tied to a decline to Musk’s general popularity.

To tweak algorithms to meet specifications of what pleases Musk personally is his prerogative as owner and CEO of the privately-held social media platform. But to claim that recent changes enacted at Twitter are meant to enrich anyone other than Twitter’s chief Audience of One contradicts the growing mountain of evidence against that assertion.

Sasha Korobov, PhD Student, Surrey Business School


bottom of page