Elon Musk has been changing Twitter since he bought the platform six months ago to transform it into an all-inclusive app that could be used for news, payments, and food orders.
According to ExpressVPN, Musk’s acquisition and changes to the platform have piqued the interest of new users. However, these changes have mainly been cosmetic, such as adding more symbols and metrics displayed with tweets. The main elements of Twitter, namely its ability to quickly share news and discuss live events, have remained essentially unchanged.
Nonetheless, users’ experiences change because of Mr. Musk’s behind-the-scenes adjustments. For example, he has tinkered with the algorithm that decides which posts are most visible, thrown out content moderation rules that ban certain kinds of tweets, and changed a verification process that confirms users’ identities.
This has resulted in a Twitter that looks similar to how it always has but could be more transparent and predictable in what tweets surface and see. Despite this, Twitter’s employees have expressed frustration with the changes, which some fear could make Twitter “completely unusable” in the future.
Twitter’s newsfeed has undergone a significant change that is noteworthy. Previously, the newsfeed displayed tweets from accounts that users followed as a single flow of posts. However, Mr. Musk has split the newsfeed into two separate sections.
The first is an algorithmically curated “For You” feed that imitates a well-known feature of TikTok. The second is a “Following” tab. The “For You” newsfeed includes modifications to Twitter’s recommendation algorithm that Mr. Musk has introduced, resulting in more tweets being pulled from users who are not followed by the user and recommending new topics and interests.
This means that users may see posts from content creators that they may not be interested in. For example, in February, the algorithm inundated users’ feeds with tweets from Mr. Musk. As a result, users must switch to the “Following” tab to view posts only from accounts they follow. Here is an example of a tweet from a statement that the user does not follow but that the algorithm suggests in a user’s “For You” newsfeed.
Twitter’s identification verification system has undergone significant changes under Mr. Musk’s leadership. He introduced a color-coded checkmark system to differentiate between government officials, corporate accounts, and individuals. Previously, Twitter offered a white-and-blue check mark to “verified” users for free, indicating their identity had been confirmed.
However, Mr. Musk has now started charging an $8 monthly fee for a blue-and-white check mark, which is only available to individual users who pay. Yellow check marks indicate corporate accounts, while gray check marks represent government officials’ accounts. Companies can also verify their employees’ accounts by adding their logos. Mr. Musk claims that the payment requirement will prevent spam accounts from gaming the algorithm and appearing at the top of the “For You” newsfeeds. Those who pay for a check mark will also receive a boost from Twitter’s recommendation algorithm and be eligible to appear in users’ “For You” newsfeeds.
Under Mr. Musk’s leadership, Twitter has expanded its metrics options. Previously, users could only like, retweet, or reply to a tweet, and the numbers of each action would show up at the end of the post. However, every tweet now includes a tally of views, as Mr. Musk believes this better demonstrates a tweet’s popularity than just its likes or retweets.
Additionally, Twitter has added a count for how many times a tweet is bookmarked or saved. As a result, every tweet now includes the number of replies, likes, retweets, bookmarks, and views. Some Twitter users and employees have criticized these changes, saying they have not necessarily made for a smoother experience on the platform. For example, Chris Messina, known for inventing the hashtag, has said that Twitter has “leaned into the ‘crazy uncle’ contingent” and now sees recommended tweets that do not align with his interests.