Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur, purchased Twitter for $44 billion in 2021 with a vision of transforming the social media platform into an all-inclusive app for payments, news, and food orders. Despite making dozens of tweaks to the platform, Mr. Musk’s changes have primarily affected the appearance of the site. However, behind-the-scenes, the algorithm that decides which tweets to display has been modified, and content moderation rules that previously banned certain types of tweets have been discarded. This has caused confusion among users and frustration among Twitter employees.
One notable difference is the newsfeed, which has been divided into two sections: a “For You” feed and a “Following” tab. The “For You” newsfeed suggests new topics and interests to users, and Mr. Musk has made changes to Twitter’s recommendation algorithm that pull in more tweets from people a user does not follow. As a result, users may see posts from content creators they are not interested in, and at one point, the algorithm inundated users with tweets from Mr. Musk.
Another change Mr. Musk made to Twitter is adding color-coded check marks to verify the identities of organizations, governments, notable individuals, and other official accounts. Previously, verified accounts had a white-and-blue check mark, which was free. Mr. Musk now charges users an $8 monthly fee for a blue-and-white check mark. Corporate accounts have a yellow check mark, while government officials have a gray check mark. Companies can also verify the employment of their employees by adding their logo to their accounts. Mr. Musk has said that those who pay for check marks will receive a boost from Twitter’s recommendation algorithm and be eligible to appear in users’ “For You” newsfeeds.
Under Mr. Musk, every tweet now has more metrics attached, including the number of times a post has been viewed, bookmarked, and saved. This means every tweet now displays the number of replies, likes, retweets, bookmarks, and views. Mr. Musk believes that the total number of views better demonstrates a tweet’s popularity than its likes or retweets.
Although the changes to Twitter’s appearance have been largely cosmetic, the algorithm changes and content moderation rule adjustments have made Twitter clunkier and less predictable in displaying tweets. Mr. Musk’s vision for transforming Twitter into an all-inclusive app is still a work in progress. Twitter users and employees have expressed frustration with the changes, with some saying that Twitter has leaned in too heavily to the “crazy uncle” contingent.