The Dishonesty of X: Misleading Data and Eroded Confidence

X, the popular social media platform, has recently come under fire for its questionable practices regarding the measurement and representation of data to the public. While it may not be promoting MrBeast’s first video upload as an undisclosed ad, it is still being dishonest in its approach. Users have reported seeing MrBeast’s video in their streams with ad disclosure options, despite it not being designated as “Promoted.” This has led to speculation that X is intentionally promoting the post to boost its view count and maximize monetization potential. However, X has clarified that the ad disclosure relates to pre-roll ads in the clip, not the clip itself. While it may not be “shadow boosting” the video, it is evident that X is using all means at its disposal to push it out to as many people as possible. This raises concerns about X’s credibility and its misleading data representation.

Misleading View Counts

The public view count for the MrBeast clip on X is being shared to suggest that it has more views on the platform. X employee Christopher Stanley has even defended this claim, stating that the view counts are even better due to the inclusion of other views not counted by X. However, this is fundamentally misleading. X’s view count includes every time a post is shown in a user’s feed, regardless of whether the user watches the clip or engages with the post. It is not an accurate representation of actual video views, which YouTube measures after a user watches 30 seconds of a clip. In contrast, X’s “view” measurement is the number of post impressions, which is far less meaningful and easier to manipulate. Despite acknowledging this, X continues to boost misleading data, eroding confidence in its reported numbers.

Elon Musk’s Role in Misleading

X owner Elon Musk is not exempt from promoting misleading data. He regularly amplifies misleading data points, such as web traffic comparisons between X and Instagram. The data quoted by Musk only accounts for around 20% of X’s traffic and 5% of Instagram’s overall usage. Comparing such a small fraction of X’s usage with an even smaller fraction of Instagram’s is virtually meaningless. Even though Musk is aware of this, he still shares it as if it is indicative data. This smoke-and-mirrors approach to usage data only diminishes trust in X’s numbers instead of adding value. While smaller advertisers might be tricked by such tactics, major brands remain hesitant to resume their X ad campaigns. Elon’s controversial statements on divisive issues further hinder the prospects of winning them back. Income from X premium subscriptions is unlikely to save the company, necessitating further headcount reductions if it does not get its ad business back on track. X could boast a billion users, but it would still run at a significant loss unless brands regain trust.

X’s dishonesty in measuring and representing data to the public raises concerns about its credibility. Promoting posts as ads without proper disclosure and misleading view counts diminish trust in the platform’s numbers. Similarly, Elon Musk’s endorsement of misleading data points only adds to the skepticism surrounding X’s performance. While the exact number of users may not be the ultimate measure of success, it holds little significance if brands are unwilling to advertise on the platform. X must regain trust and transparency to attract advertisers back and ensure its future sustainability. Otherwise, it will continue to face significant challenges, regardless of its user count.

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