Aaj Tak, India TV, Jagran fell for Elon Musk’s joke; Twitter didn’t hire back two fired employees

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Right after Elon Musk took over the reins of microblogging site Twitter, the organization carried out large-scale lay-offs. While many social media users made memes poking fun at the development, others sharply criticized the move.

On November 15, Musk shared a picture of himself with two people, writing, “Welcoming back Ligma and Johnson!” In the tweet thread that followed, he added that it was important to admit when he was wrong, and that firing them was his biggest mistake.

Based on this tweet, India Today Group’s Hindi channel Aaj Tak shared the post on its social media channels, claiming that Elon Musk admitted that firing the employees was his biggest mistake. Aaj Tak also amplified this on Twitter and Facebook. However, the channel later deleted the tweet.

Jagran also published an article based on Elon Musk’s tweet. The daily claimed that he reinstated two employees after firing them earlier, and accepted his mistake. (Archived link)


Similarly, outlets like India TV, TV9 Bharatvarsh, and One India also promoted the same claim in their articles.

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Fact-check

Alt News noticed that Elon Musk had mentioned the names ‘Ligma’ and ‘Johnson’ in his tweet. When we performed a keyword search using related terms, we came across several news reports in which the two men posing with Musk in the picture have been identified as prankster duo Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson. It is worth noting that ‘Ligma‘ is not a surname, but an internet slang.

According to a New York Times report, Twitter fired four top executives soon after Elon Musk took over the social media platform on October 27. This included Twitter CEO Parag Aggarwal, CFO Ned Segal, and Head of Legal Policy Vijaya Gadde among others.

Taking a jab at the Twitter lay-offs, both these pranksters stood in front of the company’s headquarters with boxes on October 28. The stunt found coverage on a number of reputed media outlets like CNBC and Bloomberg, which mistook them for actual Twitter employees who had been fired. However, the outlets later rectified the error in their reports. American technology news site The Verge also clarified that the two were not, in fact, employed by Twitter.

CNBC journalist Dierdre Bosa, too, interviewed both the pranksters assuming they were real Twitter employees, and claimed that Twitter’s data engineers had been fired. She later issued a clarification and apology.

To sum it up, Hindi news outlets including Aaj Tak, India TV, TV9 Bharatvarsh and One India mistakenly promoted a stunt by two men claiming to be Twitter employees who had been fired as real. The two were actually pranksters, and Elon Musk posted the tweet in question as a joke.

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