Five ways Elon Musk has changed the Twitter for users

Jan 17

It is three months since Elon Musk swept into Twitter's San Francisco headquarters - and the company has barely been out of the headlines.

We have talked a lot about his opinions about the social network and some of his more controversial business decisions, such as laying off 50% of the workforce, but less about how using the platform day-to-day has changed for its 237 million monthly active users.

1. Blocking alternative ways to view Twitter
The most recent change appears to be Twitter suspending access to its API, which is what other platforms use to communicate with it. So if, for example, you are using a social media manager to view your account rather than the Twitter app or website, you may find that Twitter is currently not working with it.

It is unclear whether the move was deliberate, although many experts believe it was.

Tweetbot is one of the affected apps.
"My guess is that this is because those third-party apps do not show ads and they allow the user to manage their feed as they see fit, which is at odds with Musk's plans to put more ads in front of users' eyeballs and prioritise the tweets of people who have paid for Twitter Blue," said tech commentator Kate Bevan.

Twitter has not made an official announcement about it yet, but popular apps which seem to be struggling include Tweetbot, Fenix and Twitterific.

2. Curation
Perhaps the most obvious change has been the order in which people see tweets that appear on their timeline. A new tab invites you to choose between the latest tweets from people you follow, and tweets recommended by Twitter.

If you are using the platform on an iPhone you will see two columns at the top, "for you" and "following" - if you are on an Android device you have to hit a star icon on the top right-hand side of the screen.

The issue is that many users did not notice this, or did not realise that the app seems to default back to Twitter's curated "for you" feed from time to time. There have been complaints that this feed is full of Twitter's recommendations, and interactions between people you follow and people you do not know, rather than content you have chosen to follow in the first place.

However, others do not mind it: "Some days I want to go to a restaurant with just my friends, some days I'll pitch up at the pub and see who's in...can be fun," one Twitter user told me.

3. Controversial accounts are brought back

Mr. Musk started with some popular accounts that had been banned for breaking Twitter's rules under the old system. They included the rapper Kanye West, who was banned for sharing anti-Semitic posts, the influencer Andrew Tate, who is being held in Romania on charges of people trafficking, and former US president Donald Trump, whose tweets were blamed for starting the Capitol Hill riots in January 2021.

4. Twitter Blue
After a few hiccups, Twitter's paid service, Twitter Blue, went live at the end of November. The monthly fee of $8/$11 (£6.50/£9) gives you access to extra features, such as a "edit" button, more visibility, and fewer ads. From what I've heard, it seems to have gotten a decent number of subscribers, but not a huge number. As usual, there has been no official news about its success so far.

5. Gold and silver ticks
A verified account used to have a "blue tick," which is now a sign of a Twitter subscriber. It was given by Twitter to hand-picked accounts of celebrities, journalists, and brands to show that they weren't fakes

Those who got a blue tick under the old system still have it, along with a message saying that it is a "legacy" and "may or may not be notable." So just because you see a blue tick next to an account doesn't mean that account is authoritative.

It has been replaced by a gold or silver tick for brands and government figures. For example, Coca-Cola is now gold, and an explainer says that it is a "official business." The account of Rishi Sunak, the UK's prime minister, now has a silver badge.

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