A CNBC journalist was duped by two pranksters outside of Twitter’s headquarters on Friday who were posing as data engineers who had just been fired.
The story comes after Elon Musk took over the company Thursday evening following his $44 billion acquisition being finalized.
Musk reportedly directed engineers from his electric car company Tesla, where he also serves as CEO, to take control of the social media company’s code away from Twitter’s engineers to evaluate potential changes to the system.
Musk also immediately fired leftist CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust, and safety, The Washington Post reported. The report said Musk also fired the company’s general counsel, Sean Edgett, who was escorted out of the building.
CNBC journalist Deirdre Bosa showed up to the offices Friday where she took a photograph of two men who were carrying boxes, claiming that they had just been fired.
“It’s happening,” Bosa tweeted. “Entire team of data engineers let go. These are two of them.”
“They are visibly shaken. Daniel tells us he owns a Tesla and doesn’t know how he’s going to make payments,” she claimed. “(To be clear – I don’t think the Tesla was top of mind, I think @elonmusk was).”
— Deirdre Bosa (@dee_bosa) October 28, 2022
Soon after videos and images of the two men went viral on social media, reports surfaced indicating that they never worked at the company.
The most glaringly obvious problem with the story was the name of one of the two men, who identified himself as “Rahul Ligma.”
“‘Ligma’ is, of course, also an internet hoax designed to elicit the response ‘lick my balls’ from people who are in on the joke,” The Verge reported.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 یاشار (@yashar) October 28, 2022
Some of the remarks that the two men made that should have raised suspicions from the journalists who interviewed them included:
“It makes me worry about the future of our democracy … the future of celebrity conservatorship. I mean, when Britney [Spears] happened…”
“Michelle Obama wouldn’t have happened if Elon Musk owned Twitter. Obama in 2008 wouldn’t have happened without Elon Musk owning Twitter.”
“I have to go touch base with my husband and wife.”
“I even own a Tesla, man. I’m a big fan of clean energy, climate change, even free speech, too.”
Bosa did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Musk released a statement earlier on Thursday to advertisers explaining why he wanted to buy Twitter and ensuring them that they do not have to worry about Twitter becoming a “free-for-all hellscape.”
“I wanted to reach out personally to share my motivation in acquiring Twitter,” Musk wrote. “There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it has been wrong.”
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk continued. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”
“In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fueled and catered to those polarized extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost,” Musk continued. “That is why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility.”
“That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” Musk concluded. “In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.”