Note: This article is longer than usual, so I’ve included a small Table of Contents below:
- Tweets Since Acquisition
- Time Trends
- When Does Elon Tweet?
- Time Spent Tweeting
- Elon vs. AOC
- Final Thoughts and Takeaways
- Image gallery with all charts and figures
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that Elon Musk recently took control of Twitter as its CEO. Scratch that — you’ve probably heard about this even if you’ve been living under a rock.
Elon’s run as CEO of Twitter has been… controversial to say the least. In some senses, he’s basically gone on a rampage against his perceived enemies reminiscent of Dennis Reynolds when he moved to the suburbs. To name a few, he:
- Tried (and failed) to introduce a subscription model (the price of which was determined in-the-moment while arguing with Stephen King)
- Had a very public feud with Apple CEO Tim Apple Cook
- Banned the kid who used public data to track his private jet
More seriously, over the past few days, he’s suspended multiple journalists who made tweets critical of him. This despite loudly proclaiming multiple times that Twitter would be a “free speech zone” after his takeover — even for his critics.
Throughout all of this, Elon has retained his former duties as CEO of no less than two other companies. He is still the CEO (and “chief engineer”) of SpaceX and the CEO of Tesla. Notably, he is being very handsomely compensated for each position. In fact, his roughly $50bn compensation package for being CEO of Tesla is considered the largest compensation package in human history. Elon defended this package by stating he “pretty much work[ed] all the time” towards Tesla.
There’s an obvious tension between Elon’s multiple CEO roles and his increased activity on Twitter post-acquisition. It’s hard to imagine that a man who spends so much time on Twitter can still faithfully fulfill his obligations as CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. I took a look at Elon’s tweet data to see how much he tweets, as well as if we can potentially tease out how much time he spends tweeting.
Tweets Since Acquisition
The most simple first-pass analysis we can do here is look at Elon’s tweet frequency before and after his acquisition of Twitter. To do so, I gathered data on Elon’s tweets from 9/1/22—12/16/22. Elon acquired Twitter on 10/27/22, so this time period captures roughly the same amount of time before and after the merger (~50 days). Then, I compared the average tweets per day made by Elon before and after the acquisition. The following chart summarizes this analysis:
Here we see a dramatic increase in tweets after Elon acquired Twitter. His daily tweet frequency more than doubled from 12.6 tweets/day to 29.2 tweets/day. For anyone wondering, this difference is statistically significant (p-value < 0.001). This suggests that it is extremely unlikely that the difference in Elon’s tweet frequency is completely due to random chance. Click here for a more simple chart that just summarizes the difference in tweet frequency before and after acquisition.
Rather than just looking at average tweets/day before and after the acquisition, we can also look at a time trend to see if Elon’s tweets have been increasing in frequency. The following chart attempts to do so by plotting the 7-day rolling average of Elon’s tweets/day. To properly analyze time trends, I look further back than 9/1/22, and start the chart at the beginning of 2022.
Here we see a strong upwards trend in Elon’s tweets/day, particularly after the acquisition. A simple regression analysis (results given by the red line) shows that before the acquisition, there was a slight upwards trend in tweets/day of 0.014 tweets (i.e. every day, the average tweets/day increased by 0.014 tweets). However, after the acquisition, Elon’s tweets/day have been increasing by roughly 0.30 tweets every day. This trend is statistically significant.
When Does Elon Tweet?
Elon lauds himself for working late into the night. This is perhaps best exemplified by the 2am email he sent to Twitter employees in November asking them to work “long hours” at a “high intensity”. This begs the question — is Elon himself working productively late at night? We can try to look at this by seeing at what hours Elon tweets. In other words, is he wasting his time tweeting in the middle of the night? The following chart summarizes this analysis:
Here we see that Elon most commonly tweets between the hours of 9am and 12pm. This suggests that he most commonly tweets during the workday.
Time Spent Tweeting
The analyses above have mostly focused on tweet frequency. Can we use this tweet frequency data to estimate how much time Elon spends tweeting? We can try to look at this with some back-of-the-envelope (kind of unscientific) analyses.
I use two methods to try and estimate how much time Elon spends tweeting. Note that both of these analyses focus on time spent physically tweeting. It is impossible to use this data to accurately estimate how much time he actually spends looking at Twitter. The two methods are outlined as such:
We assume that Elon spends 2 minutes before and after each tweet (2 minutes crafting the tweet and 2 minutes looking at replies).
In this method, I eliminate “overlapping tweets”. For example, under this assumption there is overlap between a tweet made at 12:00pm (11:58pm—12:02pm) and 12:01pm (11:59pm—12:03pm). The “time spent tweeting” for these two tweets becomes 11:58pm—12:03pm, which is 5 minutes rather than 8 minutes (2 minutes before and after * two tweets).
We use tweet frequency data to try and estimate how much time Elon spends crafting a tweet. This analysis is slightly more complex.
To try and estimate this, I looked at individual conversation threads where Elon made multiple tweets. I then looked at the time between tweets within these conversation threads.
Of course, it is entirely feasible that someone would leave a thread and come back to it later. To account for this, I only looked at tweets that have been made within 5 minutes of each other. With this cutoff, the average time between tweet replies was ~2.27 minutes. The cutoff was chosen somewhat arbitrarily, but 5 represents a nice balance between not excluding too much data while not being too long. A chart showing this can be seen here, where the percentages show how much data is retained with each cutoff.
Ostensibly, replying to tweets takes less time than crafting an original tweet (or “main tweet”). Conservatively, I assume that doing so takes 3 minutes.
I apply these two Methods to tweets made between 9/1/22 and 12/16/22 to see how much time Elon has spent tweeting before and after the acquisition. The results can be seen below:
The results of the two analyses are qualitatively similar. Under my (admittedly basic) assumptions, the time Elon spends tweeting has increased by ~130% since the acquisition. In other words, Elon spends roughly 2.3x more time tweeting since acquiring Twitter. Under my methodology, he spends anywhere from 1.2 to 1.9 hours physically tweeting daily post-acquisition. Importantly, this is just the time he spends physically tweeting, so the analysis does not account for any time spent passively reading Twitter.
Elon vs. AOC
One of Elon Musk’s most outspoken critics has been Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They’ve publicly feuded on Twitter on multiple occasions now, most recently when Elon Musk started banning journalists. That Twitter exchange is summarized below:
You first lol
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
In his reply, Elon is of course implying that AOC also spends too much on Twitter. To see if there’s any truth to this, we can compare tweet frequency data between AOC and Elon post-acquisition:
The results are stark. Elon tweets roughly 6.6x more often a day than AOC. For anyone wondering at home, this difference is statistically significant (p < 0.001). This difference holds even before the acquisition, when Elon was tweeting significantly less frequently.
Some key takeaways of this article are:
- Elon spends way more time on Twitter after he acquired it, going from 12.6 tweets/day to 29.2 tweets/day.
- His usage of Twitter is trending heavily upwards, at a rate of roughly 0.30 additional tweets per day (per day).
- All this translates into a lot more time spent physically tweeting. He spends roughly 2.3x more time tweeting now, and that could be anywhere to 1.2 to 1.9 hours a day physically tweeting. This doesn’t even take into account the time he spends reading his Twitter feed without commenting.
Thanks for sticking around if you read this far. It’s probably obvious from the tone of this article that I don’t really like Elon Musk. The reasons for that are many, but it generally boils down to the fact that I’ve never been a fan of hypocritical alt-right neckbeards, and at the end of the day that’s all Elon really is. He’s just a really rich one. Someone I know recently wrote a great article that nicely sums up everything that’s wrong with Elon Musk and his new Twitter. It’s a little long, but I’d encourage you to give it a read (I mean, if you’ve read this far, you obviously don’t mind long articles).
Elon has been particularly active in spreading Antisemitic and Anti-Trans rhetoric, and acquiring Twitter has allowed him to amplify these messages of hate. So if you’re so inclined, feel free to donate to the Anti-Defamation League or The Trevor Project, two excellent charities doing excellent work to combat hate.
I like to end some articles with a palate cleanser. So check out a Christmas mashup featuring Takeoff (RIP), Quavo, and Josh Groban by one of my favorite Youtube DJs (don’t worry, it works). Also don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE if you liked this article and want to hear more from me. I only email when I have a new post.
This section contains all the article’s figures and charts, for your convenience. Or if you’re too lazy to read the whole article and want to just look at the takeaways. Click a picture to see the full image.