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29 Oct, 2022 05:33

Musk mocks media over Twitter layoffs prank

The billionaire entrepreneur commended CNBC’s “ace reporting” after the outlet was duped by pranksters
Musk mocks media over Twitter layoffs prank

Tesla CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk took shots at the mainstream media after men posing as newly-fired Twitter employees tricked reporters, with at least two outlets taking the bait before quietly editing their stories.

The pair of pranksters were seen milling around Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters with boxes in hand on Friday, identifying themselves to journalists as ‘Rahul Ligma’ and ‘Daniel Johnson’ while claiming to be recently sacked software engineers.

While agencies such as CNBC and Bloomberg initially covered the story with a straight face, even citing interviews with the two men, both outlets later amended their articles to note that ‘Ligma’ and ‘Johnson’ were likely imposters, removing any direct mention of the hoaxers.

An editor’s note added to CNBC’s article states that while the men claimed to be “fired employees of Twitter,” several reports emerged “suggesting it was a hoax.” It said it was still unable to confirm the identities of the two individuals. After publishing its own version of the story, Bloomberg later added that Twitter’s internal communications channels had “lit up with suspicion that the departing people were enacting a hoax, and were not in fact laid off.”

Having officially purchased Twitter earlier this week in a massive $44 billion buyout deal, Musk took to his newly acquired platform to mock the journalists who fell for the prank, singling out CNBC’s ace reporting.”

Musk also joked that “Ligma Johnson had it coming,” sharing images of the two ‘fired employees’. He subtly highlighted the word-play meme that inspired the hoax (with ‘Ligma’ intended to sound like ‘lick my…’).

During their interviews with the media, the two tricksters made a series of off-topic – and at times nonsensical – statements, with ‘Ligma’ declaring that “Michelle Obama wouldn’t have happened if Elon Musk owned Twitter.” His partner ‘Johnson’ also voiced grave concerns about “the future of celebrity conservatorship,” briefly mentioning early-2000s pop star Brittney Spears before trailing off.

Even before Musk officially took over the social media giant, news reports suggested the entrepreneur would seek to clean house at the company, including a Washington Post story alleging plans to fire up to 75% of its 7,500 workers. While Musk has denied the charge, insisting there are no mass-terminations in the works, he fired a handful of top executives  immediately upon taking control of the firm on Thursday, including CEO Parag Agrawal.