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Twitter’s ‘For You’ feed won’t recommend unverified accounts

Twitter’s ‘For You’ feed won’t recommend unverified accounts
A view of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, USA, 21 November 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO)

Twitter Inc’s “For You” feed, the default view for users of the social network, will no longer recommend content from accounts that aren’t verified, owner Elon Musk tweeted on Monday.

The change, effective April 15, will mean only verified accounts — those paying an $8 monthly fee or associated with a verified organisation — are eligible to have their tweets suggested in the timeline that appears when most users open the app. Voting in Twitter polls will also require verification, Musk added.

Twitter’s “For You” page is a non-chronological feed intended to surface more popular and engaging content, though new measures Musk is enacting are increasingly making the platform more of a two-tier system, with unpaid users left out of many formerly free features. Doing so, Musk explained, is “the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over,” though he didn’t offer evidence of such groups operating on the platform.

Starting on 15 April, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.

[This] 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

Part of the sales pitch for Twitter’s subscription product, Twitter Blue, explicitly states the $8 fee will help accounts “rocket to the top of replies, mentions and search”. The latest move amplifies that prioritisation. The web and app versions of the social network still offer a “Following” tab, where users can see a time-ordered view mostly composed of the accounts they already follow.

Starting on 1 April, Twitter will start removing legacy verification marks, stripping away the blue check marks from any users not paying the fee and unaffiliated with large organisations. The move may impact independent journalists and other peripheral voices most heavily, running counter to Musk’s professed goal of trying to ensure free speech on Twitter.

The San Francisco-based company also has a further level of differentiation with a celebrity VIP list, Platformer reported on Monday. Well-known figures such as NBA star LeBron James, US President Joe Biden and Musk himself have their visibility boosted further on the platform, according to the report. This would contradict Musk’s position, articulated in recent days, that “there shouldn’t be a different standard for celebrities”.

It’s more about treating everyone equally. There shouldn’t be a different standard for celebrities imo. https://t.co/rWi99sGPdq

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2023

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