No, Elon Musk didn’t fire a Twitter employee live on the radio
Twitter users have been circulating a video that appears to show Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, firing an employee in the middle of an appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast. Certain corners of Twitter, frustrated by limits on what they could tweet, have been celebrating Musk’s takeover, saying that he will “return freedom of expression” to the platform. They saw this public firing as the first step, claiming that Vijaya Gedde, the employee in the video, had been “responsible for censorship”. But Musk didn’t fire Gedde publicly: this video is a montage of footage from two different interviews.
If you only have a minute:
- On October 30, 2022, a number of Facebook and Twitter accounts shared a video that supposedly showed Elon Musk firing Vijaya Gedde, an employee supposedly “responsible for Twitter’s censorship”, in the middle of an appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast. In the video, which garnered more than 35,000 views, it seems like Musk says “you are fired” to Gedde.
- However, Musk didn’t fire Gedde in the middle of an interview. This viral video is actually a montage made by editing together segments from two different Joe Rogan shows. The first was on September 7, 2018, the second on March 5, 2019.
- Damon Imani, a producer based in Denmark, is the man behind the montage. Imani often makes humorous montages by splicing together different videos.
- Vijaya Gadde, the head of Twitter’s legal service, was actually fired along with a number of other executives working for the American social media outlet on October 28, 2022, just a few hours after Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter went through.
The fact check, in detail
“The bird is freed,” wrote billionaire Elon Musk on Twitter on October 28, when it became official that he had acquired the American social media company. Just a few hours after this post, several Twitter employees, including the CEO, were dismissed.
A certain segment of Twitter celebrated these announcements, which they claimed marked the return of “freedom of expression” to the social media network. Some of these accounts even shared a video that they claimed showed Musk firing Vijaya Gedde, who they said was responsible for censorship on Twitter.
The video that started circulating on October 30, 2022 included footage from an interview by American podcast host Joe Rogan supposedly featuring Elon Musk and Vijaya Gadde, the former head of Twitter’s legal team. If the video is to be believed, in the middle of the show, Musk interrupted Gadde, saying, “You are fired”.
Vijaya Gadde was indeed fired on October 28, 2022. But does this video really capture the moment it happened?
To figure out what was really going on here, we had to establish the origin of the footage. Our first step was to just do a simple Google search for the words “Joe Rogan Vijaya Gadde”. We pulled up a live stream broadcast on March 5, 2019 on Joe Rogan’s YouTube channel.
In the show, Rogan hosted Vijaya Gadde and Jack Dorsey, one of Twitter’s co-founders. At one point, Rogan asked about how moderation works on the social media outlet. This show was recorded on March 5, 2019, but we quickly noticed that Rogan and Gadde were wearing the same outfits as in the video that started circulating on October 30, 2022.
We watched the show and found the exact excerpts used in the viral montage. For example, at 26’34”, Gadde says, “I do think we’ve failed in a couple of ways.” This same excerpt appears in the viral video that has been circulating on Facebook and Twitter since October 30, 2022.
Elon Musk wasn’t a guest on that episode of Rogan’s show. But he was interviewed by Rogan in the show that aired on September 7, 2018. And clips from that interview were edited together with clips from the Gedde interview to make the video that has gone viral in recent days.
So who edited together clips from Elon Musk’s appearance on Rogan’s show with Vijaya Gadde’s appearance, making it look like he fired her live on air? Well, the video has the username @damoniman on it. That led us to Damon Imani, a Danish producer, whom we found on Instagram.
Imani frequently publishes these kinds of montages of interview clips, making it look like famous people said things they didn’t. Here’s one he did of an interview with Mark Zuckerberg.
And so, contrary to the claims made by certain Twitter and Facebook accounts, Elon Musk did not fire Vijaya Gadde during a podcast interview. This montage is actually made up of two different interviews (from September 7, 2018 and March 5, 2019) edited together.