Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson (2024)

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About

Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson are gag names used by two pranksters who pretended to be former Twitter employees that had been laid off after the company was acquired by Elon Musk in late October 2022. The men appeared in front of Twitter headquarters with cardboard boxes filled with their supposed desk items and identified their last names as "Ligma" and "Johnson" to reporters at the scene, who then included them without knowledge of the meme reference in articles. In the following days, the hoax and troll were widely discussed online by many who mocked media outlets for being pranked.

Origin

On October 28th, 2022, at around 1:30 p.m. EST, CNBC[1] published an article titled, "Elon Musk’s first day owning Twitter leads to havoc and a possible hoax about layoffs," covering Elon Musk's purchasing of Twitter. In the original iteration of the article, the reporter, Deirdre Bosa, interviewed two men outside of Twitter HQ holding cardboard boxes that claimed to have been fired by Musk. The men's names were reportedly Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson, the former name a reference to the "ligma" meme (roughly translating to "lick my"). That same day, Bosa posted a tweet[2] writing, "It’s happening. Entire team of data engineers let go. These are two of them," sharing an image of the pair and garnering over 110,000 likes in three days (shown below). She commented on the post, "They are visibly shaken. Daniel tells us he owns a Tesla and doesn’t know how he’s going to make payments." One Twitter[3] commenter posted a video of an interaction with the men where one man said his name is "Rahul Ligma," writing, "You got conned," garnering over 14,000 likes in the same span of time.

You got conned.
Name is “Rahul LIGMA”

C’mon man pic.twitter.com/EdcuIk6jCP

— Dr. Randy J. Marsh ➐ (@WealthyCFO) October 28, 2022


Between 3 p.m. and 4:36 p.m. EST on October 28th, 2022, Deidre Bosa posted several updates to Twitter about the status of the interview and article. In the first tweet,[4] she wrote, "fyi -some questions being raised about whether these are really twitter employees. Still trying to verify." In the second tweet,[5] she wrote, "confusion reigns outside twitter HQ are people being let go? Are they trolling the media?…unfortunately corp comms isn’t returning calls." In her final tweet,[6] she stated:

"earlier today we reported on CNBC that a team of data engineers was let go at Twitter based on the account of 2 ppl who told us they were a part of that team. we have not been able to confirm that they were actual employees or that the co has laid off anyone today"

The article on CNBC was updated that night at 8:11 p.m. EST, removing the interview portion with the two. A more complete video of the interview between Ligma and CNBC was posted to YouTube that day, garnering over 40,000 views in three days (shown below). Bloomberg[7] also fell for the prank and reported on the two as if they were actually fired by Musk, later correcting its article.


Backstory

Know Your Meme reached out to Rahul Ligma, @0interestrates on Twitter,[17] to learn more about the backstory of the prank. When asked about what inspired him to do the prank, Ligma wrote:

"I work out every morning at the gym that is in the same building as the twitter HQ. Saw a bunch of cameras outside that morning while walking in and thought that it was just kinda crazy that these people are outside waiting desperately for some action to happen. So middle of my workout i thought it would be really funny if i walked out with a box and they fell for it. So I texted a friend and asked him to pull up with a box. he pulled up with two and we just walked out and they fell for it."

He told us he "wasn't really surprised" that they fell for it, writing that he was, "hoping at least one guy there would get it and they would turn off the cameras but instead, they kept going with the questions." According to Ligma, the prank was all improvised, including the names.

Spread

On the day of the article, numerous media outlets reported on CNBC getting pranked by the two men, including the Daily Mail,[8] New York Post,[9] Mashable[10] and Economic Times India.[11] Twitter users also called out CNBC. For example, on October 28th, 2022, the Washington Post's video game reporter Gene Park tweeted,[12] "tech reporters are absolutely being trolled and they don’t know what ligma is 😭," garnering over 2,000 likes in three days. Twitter user @greg16676935420 posted, "Turns out 'Rahul Ligma' was not actually fired from Twitter, but instead was just some random dude with a box that got CNBC with a Ligma Nuts joke," garnering over 190,000 likes in three days.

That same day, Elon Musk tweeted[13] a screenshot from an article reporting on the prank seriously, writing, "Ligma Johnson had it coming 🍆 💦," garnering over 659,000 likes and 63,000 retweets in three days (shown below).


Also that day, Twitter[14] user @greg_price11 posted a video of an interview with Johnson, writing, "Some guys just absolutely trolled local media outside Twitter's headquarters pretending to be a fired software engineer," garnering over 4.1 million views and 36,000 likes in three days (shown below).

Some guys just absolutely trolled local media outside Twitter's headquarters pretending to be a fired software engineer:

"I have to go touch base with my husband and wife." pic.twitter.com/B84ScRUqDk

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 28, 2022


Later that day, the story was then shared on Reddit's /r/WhitePeopleTwitter,[15] where some users also fell for the prank, commenting in defense of Ligma and Johnson. Comments like this were shared by Twitter[16] user @reddit_lies on October 29th, garnering over 1,000 likes in two days (shown below).


Elon Musk Welcomes Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson to Twitter

On November 15th, 2022, Elon Musk made a post on his Twitter[18] account welcoming Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson from the trolling prank to the company's headquarters in San Francisco. The tweet included an image of the trio and received over 279,000 likes, 21,000 retweets and 6,100 quote tweets in roughly two hours (seen below).


Various Examples


Search Interest

External References

[1] CNBC – Elon Musk’s first day owning Twitter leads to havoc and a possible hoax about layoffs

[2] Twitter – dee_bosa

[3] Twitter – WealthyCFO

[4] Twitter – dee_bosa

[5] Twitter – dee_bosa

[6] Twitter – dee_bosa

[7] Bloomberg – Elon Musk Starts Cutting Jobs at Twitter

[8] Daily Mail – Two Twitter Engineers Claim Laid Off

[9] New York Post – Pranksters posing as laid-off Twitter employees trick media outlets

[10] Mashable – Pranksters fool some media members after Elon Musk's Twitter takeover

[11] Economic Times India – Pranster poses…

[12] Twitter – genepark

[13] Twitter – elonmusk

[14] Twitter – greg_price11

[15] Reddit – whitepeopletwitter

[16] Twitter – redditlies

[17] Twitter – 0interestrates

[18] Twitter – elonmusk

Rahul Ligma and Daniel Johnson (2024)
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