Musk announces drastic change to Twitter algorithm
Elon Musk has announced that starting April 15, only verified Twitter accounts will be eligible to be featured on the platform’s recommendation timeline. The tech mogul explained the move in a Twitter post on Monday, stating it’s “the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over.”
Apart from no longer being featured in other users’ ‘For You’ feeds, unverified accounts – those that have not paid the $7 monthly fee to have their account verified with a blue checkmark – will also lose the ability to vote in polls. Musk again explained the decision by pointing to the prevalence of bots on the platform.
It is unclear, however, if Musk was only referring to polls created by Twitter and himself – as he often gauges public opinion on key decisions through this tool – or all polls on the platform.
Twitter announced last week that it would remove the verified status of some ‘legacy’ accounts by April 1, meaning only those paying a monthly subscription will now have the blue checkmark in their profiles. According to analysts from Sensor Tower, Twitter currently has an estimated paying user base of just over 385,000 mobile subscribers worldwide on both iOS and Android.
Critics of Musk’s algorithm change say it will significantly hinder the recommendation timeline’s relevance, as it will essentially prevent regular people from reaching a wider audience and only feature paying users, brands, and accounts of officials.
Meanwhile, Twitter has been dealing with a source code leak, after an unknown hacker or group of people posted the code on GitHub – a software collaboration platform. Twitter has filed a court petition seeking to identify those responsible for the leak, arguing that the code, which underpins the website’s entire operation, could expose security vulnerabilities.
Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October 2022. After appointing himself CEO and vowing to transform the site into a free speech platform, the billionaire fired nearly three-quarters of Twitter’s workforce, removed some of its more contentious censorship policies, and restored a number of banned accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump. However, he has yet to make the company profitable, as its value has decline by one half since the takeover, according to the Wall Street Journal, despite cutting the workforce and implementing a subscription model.