“How is this social network still free” is a popular ironic saying of Twitter users, which is becoming more and more distant from reality. After all, the owner and CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk, announced that from April 15, the social network will display only paid and verified accounts on its algorithmic feed “For you”. Musk calls this step an attempt to “address advanced AI bot swarms taking over”, although he previously assured that after the changes he implemented in the company, bots were defeated.
Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.
The is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.
Voting in polls will require verification for same reason.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2023
Musk also specified that “verified” bots that do not impersonate people will be able to enter the “For You” feed. Overall, the move means Twitter’s algorithm will only recommend paid users, brands and government officials. And the decision is unlikely to be well-received, given that Twitter currently has about 385,000 paid users, and removing legacy verification checks from previously known accounts on April 1 will skew the algorithmic feed. Not to mention the possible attack of propagandist paid accounts, which will be able to spread disinformation more easily.
Musk also said that only verified accounts will be able to participate in polls, though it’s unclear if that will apply to all polls on the platform or just those created by Twitter or himself. This statement still needs to be clarified.
Last year, Twitter briefly banned links to other social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, but that decision was reversed after significant criticism from users. Previously, Musk stated that all important decisions would be submitted to a vote of users, but this did not happen.
The new initiative appeared shortly after GitHub removed Twitter‘s leaked source code, and Musk promised to open source the social network’s recommendation algorithm on March 31. However, it is not yet known whether this code will contain any references to restricting the algorithm to only verified users.