In the latest chapter in the saga of Elon Musk and his strange Twitter decisions, the social network’s CEO has declared that Twitter will only show verified accounts on the algorithmic “For You” timeline starting April 15.
In a tweet, Musk justified the move by saying this was the “only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over.”
While the Tesla CEO suggested that the move to prohibit non-verified accounts from recommendations was to tackle bots, he said that “verified” bots that don’t impersonate humans would be eligible to be shown on the “For You” timeline. So essentially, you have to be a paid user, a brand, or a government official to be recommended by Twitter’s algorithm.
Twitter has been trying to promote the “For You” timeline for a while now despite negative opinions from many users. The move to make it a verified-only algorithmic feed won’t be a popular decision either.
Notably, analysts suggest that Twitter has only 385,000 paying users at the moment. Plus, the company is removing legacy verification checkmarks from previously notable accounts on April 1. So the algorithmic feed will be filled by paid accounts in addition to brands and officials’ accounts, which may make it a very skewed timeline for people who follow a variety of accounts.
Musk also said that only verified accounts will be able to take part in polls going forward. But it’s unclear if that is meant to be polls created by Twitter (or him), or all polls on the platform. As always, the announcement is confusing.
Last year, Twitter briefly instated a policy to ban handles and links to other social networks like Facebook and Instagram. The move backfired, and after heavy criticism, the company reversed the rule. At that time, Musk said that every major policy decision would go through a poll (Spoiler: it hasn’t). Soon after, he launched a poll asking people if he should step down as a CEO. By the end of it, 57.5% voted in favor.
After these events, several people suggested that bots accounted for a lot of these votes. At that time, Musk took note of a user suggestion to limit policy voting to only paying subscribers. It looks like he’s finally implementing this change.
This development comes in the wake of GitHub taking down a repository of leaked Twitter sourced code. Musk has promised to open source the social network’s recommendation algorithm on March 31.