Elon Musk relaunched Twitter for the benefit of one powerful user: himself, Nearly four months into Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter, one of the most influential social media websites has been turned into the business billionaire’s personal sandbox.
Twitter users knew the site would change under Musk, who bought the company in October for $44 billion and installed himself as CEO on a promise to restore “free speech.”
What many people underestimated was how Musk would make wholesale changes with the potential to disrupt the on-site experience for his own benefit. That outlook was dramatized this week.
That’s when the site platformer reported that Twitter made major algorithmic changes on Musk’s orders — resulting in users seeing the billionaire’s tweets first.
Elon Musk was concerned that his engagement was declining: His tweets showing support behind the Philadelphia Eagles at the Super Bowl didn’t perform as well as President Biden’s, for example. What Twitter did right was push Musk’s tweet to the top of many users’ feeds, which was widely noted by users.
Twitter’s public data supports this. For example, a new feature displaying view counts on tweets released late last year showed that Musk’s tweets at the time were engaged extensively, including over 1 billion views on 18 December.
In total, Musk’s tweets were viewed 231 million times on any given December day. But this year the number has come down considerably. Between January 1 and the Super Bowl, Musk’s tweets were viewed just 137 million times on a typical day.
This week, after being artificially boosted, his posts reached nearly 400 million daily views, according to an analysis of view numbers by The Washington Post.
Kasturi is a prolific Twitter user who has a penchant for tweeting and sometimes getting herself into trouble in the process. appeared in court last month over an infamous tweet from 2018 announcing he had “received the money” to take Tesla private at $420 a share.
Elon Musk said that he sees the site as an effective way to communicate with the public to disseminate both company information and “memes”.
Elon Musk has nearly 130 million followers, making him one of the site’s most popular users. He first indicated he was following Twitter in April, saying he wanted to restore “free speech” and tackle the site’s persistent problem of spam and bots.
But several former Twitter employees, some of whom were given prior knowledge of those issues, said Musk’s changes were often designed to improve their own user experience. The data shows how they’ve benefited from the changes, and the examples pile up month after month of specific actions taken to improve their personal experience on the site.
The former employees spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. On Twitter, Musk has bowed the company to its impulses in ways that may be less possible at publicly traded Tesla, where he also serves as chief executive officer, and unlike Twitter is a corporate There is a board.
And at one point, Musk was so hellbent on eliminating spam and bots on the site, for example, that Twitter — which uses phone numbers to verify the authenticity of accounts — blocked entire countries from its system.
This created a problem: Ukraine, one of the countries affected, is in the midst of a prolonged war with Russia, where social media has played an important strategic role. Ukrainians suddenly find they can’t post on Twitter.
And since Musk took over as CEO of Twitter, the list of big changes has included many with a direct benefit to Musk, former employees said, with little potential for the rest of users.
In December, Twitter adopted a policy banning live-location sharing so that accounts publishing the location of Musk’s private jet could not post that information to Twitter in real time.
Elon Musk attributed the account to an alleged incident of stalking – which he had previously held up as evidence of his commitment to freedom of expression – but police later said they had not established a link between the two .
Following the banning of the Jet account, Twitter banned journalists who posted about it, as Musk accused them of “basically posting the coordinates of the assassination”. He backtracked under public pressure, but only after users deleted the offending tweets.
A month before he was exposed to a swarm of Musk impersonators in the wake of Musk’s announced changes to Twitter’s check-mark verification system, Musk adopted a zero-tolerance approach to verified users posing as others.
The new policy resulted in the immediate banning of users who did not specify that they were engaged in parodies of public figures. This resulted, for example, in comedian Kathy Griffin being banned from the site, though she was later reinstated in November.
One of the former employees said that the aggressive focus on Musk’s impersonation emerged because Twitter’s top executives circulated examples of accounts parodying Musk themselves.
“And everything that was being sent to us was using his image,” the former employee recalled, referring to Musk, who was part of the conversation. After it became clear that he had become concerned, the order to apprehend the copycats filtered through a Musk deputy.
Musk posted on November 6 announcing the policy, “Going forward, any Twitter handle that engages in impersonation without explicitly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.”
Meanwhile, Musk stops what he calls the “Lords and Peasants System” division to give him verification check marks. One of his key ideas for driving revenue was to charge $8 a month for the signature blue badges, as Musk vowed to phase out the old, “corrupt” ones placed by users including many journalists and public figures. .
Elon Musk has eliminated the public relations department at Tesla and dramatically downsized the communications staff at Twitter, which no longer generally responds to media requests.
Even before buying Twitter, Musk stressed the need for the site to crack down on spam and bots, especially those shilling cryptocurrencies.
“If our Twitter bid is successful, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” Elon Musk posted shortly before the deal was made on April 21, a day before he said that “scam crypto bots” were verified on the site.
One of the former employees recalled, “All the instances were very peculiar to him, but these were long-standing issues.” According to former employees, Musk’s announcements about problems facing Twitter even before the acquisition often warned about issues that were far removed from the typical user experience.
“I remember people on our team thinking they had a very personal experience for him on the platform,” said a former Twitter employee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “Our assumption was just that he was describing his typical experience as a Twitter user, and Elon Musk is not a typical Twitter user.”
Original Content @Biz Craft