The claim: Twitter engineers projected messages attacking Elon Musk on a Twitter building
After billionaire Elon Musk acquired Twitter last month, he implemented several cost-cutting measures, including laying off half its workforce. But according to social media users, not all of the platform's outgoing employees left the company quietly.
One widely spreading Facebook post claimed disgruntled engineers took revenge on Musk by projecting disparaging messages on the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California.
“Twitter will probably crash and burn tonight (so sad) … but the last engineers out the door left Elon a parting message,” reads a Nov. 17 Facebook post that was shared more than 16,000 times in four days.
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The video in the post shows scrolling horizontal text projected on a Twitter building that calls Musk a "lawless oligarch" and a "worthless billionaire," among other things.
The projection did happen, but it wasn’t done by Twitter engineers. It was the work of a California activist who told USA TODAY he has never worked for the social media company.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.
Activist has projected messages on buildings for years
Various news outlets, including The Los Angeles Times and KSDK in St. Louis, Missouri, identified activist Alan Marling as the person behind the projection.
Marling confirmed to USA TODAY that he projected the images and has never worked for Twitter.
Marling told USA TODAY the projections are his way of calling attention to what he described as the platform’s amplification of conspiracy theories and hate speech.
CNET reported in 2017 that Marling's projections at the time included calls for the platform to ban former President Donald Trump and for former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to resign.
BOOM Fact Check also debunked the claim that Twitter engineers were responsible for the anti-Musk projections.
Our rating: Partly False
Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSE the claim Twitter engineers projected messages attacking Musk on a Twitter building. While disparaging messages were displayed on Twitter headquarters, the projection was done by a California activist who told USA TODAY he has never worked for the social media platform.
Our fact-check sources:
Alan Marling, Nov. 21, Instagram message to USA TODAY
BOOM Fact Check, Nov. 21, Light Projection Mocking Elon Musk Not Done By Former Twitter Engineers
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 18, Meet the projection activist who just trolled Elon Musk on Twitter’s headquarters
Patch, Nov. 22, 2021, Activist Projects Names Of Trans Dead On Netflix's Los Gatos HQ
CNET, Dec. 8, 2017, From #FakeNews to #MeToo: Twitter was hard to handle in 2017
Free Speech for People, July 31, 2017, California Sees the Light: Calling on CalPERS to Divest Trump SoHo
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: California activist behind projections on Twitter HQ