Category Archives: Twitter

Twitter’s New Policy is “Freedom of Speech, Not Reach”

Twitter Safety posted about a new policy that it described as “Freedom of Speech, Not Reach: An update on our enforcement philosophy”. From the update:

“Our mission at Twitter 2.0 is to promote and protect the public conversation. We believe Twitter users have the right to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship. We also believe it is our responsibility to keep users on our platform safe from content violating our Rules.

These beliefs are the foundation of Freedom of Speech, not Freedom of Reach – our enforcement philosophy which means, where appropriate, restricting the reach of Tweets that violate our policies by making the content less discoverable.

Today, we’re excited to share an update on our approach to policy enforcement that better aligns this philosophy with our commitment to transparency.

Restricting the reach of Tweets, also known as visibility filtering, is one of our existing enforcement actions that allows us to move beyond the binary “leave up versus take down” approach to content moderation. However, like other social platforms, we have not historically been transparent when we’ve taken this action. Starting soon, we will add publicly visible labels to Tweets identified as potentially violating our policies letting you know we’ve limited their visibility.

These labels bring a new level of transparency to enforcement actions by displaying which policy the Tweet potentially violates to both the Tweet author and other users on Twitter. Tweets with these labels will be made less discoverable on the platform. Additionally, we will not place ads adjacent to content that we label. You can learn more about the ways we may restrict a Tweet’s reach here. …

…While these labels will initially only apply to a set of Tweets that potentially violate our Hateful Conduct policy, we plan to expand their applications to other applicable policy areas in the coming months. This change is designed to result in enforcement actions that are more proportional and transparent for everyone on the platform…”

The Verge reported that one of the actions Twitter can take is to limit the reach of hateful tweets. The tweets remain online but become less discoverable as they’re excluded from areas like search results, trends, recommended notifications, For You and Following timelines and more.

TechCrunch reported that one of the actions Twitter can take is to limit the reach of hateful tweets. The tweets remain online but become less discoverable as they’re excluded from areas like search results, trends, recommended notifications, For You and Following timelines and more.

Personally, I’m going to take a “wait and see” approach to this. In general, labeling tweets with hate speech is something Twitter should be doing. My concern is that the labels regarding hate speech could be used to harm marginalized people, or be posted more often on accounts who favor one political party over the other.

Twitter Introduces 10,000 Character Long Tweets For Blue Subscribers

Twitter has introduced a new feature that will let Blue subscribers post 10,000 character-long posts – as if the social network is trying to compete with a rival newsletter platform. Along with this, Twitter has also added support for bold and italic text formatting, TechCrunch reported.

In February, the social network introduced 4,000-character long tweets for Blue subscribers to encourage people to publish longer posts instead of threads, TechCrunch also reported.

The @TwitterWrite account posted the following on April 12, 2023:

“We’re making improvements to the writing and reading experience on Twitter! Starting today, Twitter now supports Tweets up to 100,000 characters in length, with bold and italic text formatting.

Sign up for Twitter Blue to access these new features, and apply to enable Subscriptions on your account to earn income directly on Twitter. Tap on “Monetization” in settings to apply today.”

According to TechCrunch, the company’s push for long-form writing comes at a time when Elon Musk is introducing creator monetization tools. On Thursday, he announced that creators can apply for monetization and offer subscriptions to users. For the next 12 months, Twitter will give all money to creators after paying Apple or Google their 30% cut. Post that, the Apple/Google tax will reduce to 15% and the social media company will take a small fee from creators.

Currently, creators can offer subscriptions at per-month prices of $2.99, $4.99, and $9.99. Twitter’s rules indicate that creators need to be at least 18 years old, they need to have 10,000 active users, and they need to have tweeted at least 25 times in the last 30 days to be eligible for monetization.

Engadget reported while a 10,000-character limit sounds excessive for most casual users – that’s around 2,000 words, or a pretty lengthy essay – Twitter likely introduced the capability for people looking to make money off their posts. The company just rebranded “SuperFollows” as “Subscriptions,” allowing users to charge people for exclusive content, including subscriber-only chats in Spaces. Twitter also promised not to take any of their earnings for the next 12 months.

Personally, I’m not interested in this new, 10,000 character feature that Twitter has rolled out. It seems to me that in order to use it, you need to purchase Twitter Blue, apply for monetization, and have at least 10,000 active users. That’s not likely to work for the majority of Twitter users.

There are other options available for those who want to write long-form posts. You could decide to get a Substack account. According to Substack, it is free to get started. If you turn on paid subscriptions, Substack will keep a 10% cut of revenues for operation costs like development and customer support.

Another option is to get a Tumblr account, where you can post pretty much anything you want for free. If Tumblr isn’t your thing, you could set up a blog of your own. There’s plenty of options out there beyond Twitter Blue.

Twitter Circles Made Semi-Private Tweets Public

Twitter Circles is leaking, with users reporting that posts meant for a limited audience are instead being pushed out to millions of strangers. You should always think twice before you tweet, but it’s a good idea to be extra cautious now, Mashable reported.

According to Mashable, Twitter Circles was introduced in 2022. Its a feature that (when it’s working) allows you to restrict certain tweets to a carefully curated list of pre-approved followers. It’s a useful tool for people who would like to vent about their partner, scream about K-pop idols, or share some tasteful nudes, but don’t necessarily want their ramblings seen by the wider public.

Unfortunately, an apparent bug has resulted in Twitter Circles tweets appearing in the For You feeds of users who weren’t given access to them. In some cases, these users weren’t even following the original poster. It’s an unexpected and alarming violation if privacy for anyone who trusted Twitter’s assurances that only approved Twitter Circle members can see these posts.

Gizmodo reported that if you are a regular Twitter Circles user, you should probably stop posting things you wouldn’t want seen by the wider public. Numerous tweeters are reporting that their supposedly private Twitter Circle posts are accessible to the whole Twittersphere, letting their more private thoughts or pics loose on the wider community.

According to Gizmodo, since at least this past weekend, multiple Twitter users have reported strangers being able to read and even like their private tweets. Users not in these circles have recently been able to sometimes see and then interact with these tweets.

Gizmodo could not independently confirm that Circles was broken, but multiple other users all seemed to have the same problem, where Circles tweets appeared in non-followers “For you” tabs.

BuzzFeed News reported that when Twitter Circles launched in August 2022, it promised users “the flexibility to choose who you can see and engage with their content on a Tweet-by-Tweet basis.”

The ability to limit posts’ access to a small number of people “makes it easier to have more intimate conversations with select followers,” the company said in a blog post announcing the feature. Among the voices praising Circles in the post was Belong To, which supports young LGBTQ+ people in Ireland. The group hailed the feature for putting “power into the hands of people on Twitter by creating a new way for them to control how they show up online and feels safe expressing themselves,” BuzzFeed News reported.

According to BuzzFeed News, eight months and one ownership change later, Circles’ secure functionality appears to have broken. A number of users are publicly warning those who use the feature that their supposedly secure posts – oftentimes nudes – are leaching into the main For You feed, the algorithmically driven homepage of Twitter.

I have never used Twitter Circles, but it is clear that many other people do use it. In my opinion, Twitter should immediately fix this problem and prevent people’s Twitter Circles content from ending up in the For You feed (where strangers can access it). That said, both Gizmodo and Mashable reported that trying to reach out for a comment from Elon Musk results in a poop emoji response.

Twitter Cuts Off Substack Embeds

Writers trying to embed tweets in their Substack stories are in for a rude surprise: after pasting a link to their site, a message pops up saying that “Twitter has unexpectedly restricted access to embedding tweets in Substack posts” and explaining that the company is working on a fix, The Verge reported.

The unfortunate situation comes on the heels of Substack announcing Notes, a Twitter competitor.

According to The Verge, the issue could cause problems for writers who want to talk about what’s going on with Twitter in their newsletters or about thing that are happening on the platform. While screenshots of tweets could work in some cases, they’re less trustworthy because they don’t provide a direct link to the source. Screenshots also won’t help you if you’re trying to, say, embed a video that someone posted on Twitter.

Engadget reported that Twitter has finally shut off its free API and, predictably, it’s breaking a lot of apps and websites. The company had previously said it would cut off access in early February, but later delayed the move without providing an updated timeline.

According to Engadget, after announcing its new paid API tiers last week, the company seems to have started cutting off thousands of developers relying on its free developer tools. Over the last couple days, a number of app makers and other services have reported that the Twitter API is no longer functioning.

Mashable reported that when Twitter rolled out the pricing for its paid API tiers last week, many indie developers announced they would have to shut down apps they had made for the platform. These distraught devs included those that had created service making hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, as the new API subscription tiers from Twitter would even priced them out.

Now, according to Mashable, the Elon Musk-owned company has seemingly cut off API access to even some of the largest Twitter-based apps – including some that wanted to pay the exorbitant new fees which start at $42,000 per month.

Mashable also reported that unlike Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific, which Musk banned earlier this year, none of the apps replicate Twitter’s platform. Users still have to regularly go to the company’s own website, mobile apps, or clients. What these apps do is help facilitate more content creation for Twitter and encourage usage of the platform. By destroying its third-party app ecosystem, Twitter is essentially shooting itself in the foot.

Considering all of this, it seems to me that Twitter – under Elon Musk – is intending to push people off the platform. I find it hard to believe that app developers are going to be able to come up with $42,000 a month to keep their apps alive on Twitter.

That said, I think there it is very likely that the priced-out app creators could do well by modifying their apps for Mastodon.

Elon Musk Says Twitter’s For You Page Is for Verified Accounts

Twitter users will need a “verified account” to get recommended on the platform’s For You page starting on April 15th, according to a Monday evening tweet from CEO Elon Musk. Given that Twitter has promised to start dismantling the “legacy” verified system at the beginning of April, that appears to mean that you’ll have to be a company, government entity, or Twitter Blue subscriber if you want to pop into the feeds of people who don’t follow you, The Verge reported.

Here is what Elon Musk tweeted:

“Starting April 15th, 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 the same reason.”

The Verge reported: It’s worth taking this announcement with a big grain of salt, as Musk’s tweets haven’t always turned into enforced policy or features. Perhaps the biggest example is his promise from February that the company was going to start sharing ad revenue with Blue subscribers, something that’s still MIA almost two months later. That same month, he also promised to open-source the company’s algorithm by March 5th, which hasn’t happened yet – though now he says it will happen on March 31st, without acknowledging the previous missed deadline.

TechCrunch reported 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 of previously notable accounts on April 1. So the algorithmic feed will be filled by paid accounts in addition to brands and officials’ accounts making it for a very skewed timeline, according to TechCrunch.

TechCrunch also reported that this development comes days after GitHub took down Twitter’s leaked source code. What’s more, Musk promised to open source the social network’s recommendation algorithm on March 31. TechCrunch noted: We’ll have to wait and see if the code has references to limiting it to only verified users.

BuzzFeed News reported that Elon Musk announced that starting April 15, only Twitter Blue subscribers will appear in the For You feed. According to Musk’s tweet on Monday, the measure is to stop AI bots. Additionally, only verified users can vote in polls.

According to BuzzFeed News, this comes a few days after Twitter announced that legacy verified accounts will lose their blue checkmark starting April 1st unless they sign up for paid Twitter Blue. At the same time, Twitter is working on a way for paid subscribers to hide their blue checks, presumably because it might seem embarrassing to have one if all it means is that you’ve paid for it.

BuzzFeed News also wrote: Regular, unpaid accounts will presumably only be visible in the Following feed, the chronological feed of only the people you follow – basically, what Twitter used to be.

Overall, I feel as though Twitter has become very chaotic after Elon Musk took over. He appears to desperately want to monetize the platform, which has been free to use for most of Twitter’s existence. These haphazard decisions could influence people to stop using Twitter and switch to a Mastodon account.

Twitter Posted An Update About 2FA Authentication

Twitter posted a product update titled: “An update on two-factor authentication using SMS on Twitter”. It was posted on Twitter’s blog on February 15, 2023. From the update:

“We continue to be committed to keeping people safe and secure on Twitter, and a primary security tool we offer to keep your account secure is two-factor authentication (2FA). Instead of entering a password to log in, 2FA requires you to also enter a code or use a security key. This additional step helps make sure that you, and only you, can access your account. To date, we have offered three methods of 2FA: text message, authentication app, and security key.

“While historically a popular form of 2FA, unfortunately we have seen phone-number based 2FA be used – and abused – by bad actors. So starting today, we will no longer allow accounts to enroll in the text message/SMS method of 2FA unless they are Twitter Blue subscribers. The availability of text message 2FA for Twitter Blue may vary by country and carrier.

“Non-Twitter Blue subscribers that are already enrolled will have 30 days to disable this method and enroll in another. After 20 March 2033, we will no longer permit non-Twitter Blue subscribers to use text messages as a 2FA method. At that time, accounts with text message 2FA still enabled will have it disabled. Disabling text message 2FA does not automatically disassociate your phone number from your Twitter account. If you would like to do so, instructions to update your account phone number are available on our Help Center.

“We encourage non-Twitter Blue subscribers to consider using an authentication app or security key method instead. These methods require you to have physical possession of the authentication method and are a great way to ensure your account is secure.”

Engadget reported that Twitter users will soon have to use an authenticator app or a security key to be able to use two-factor authentication if they’re not a Blue subscriber. The website has made text-based 2FA an exclusive feature for members paying for the subscription service.

Engadget also reported that Twitter said it has come to the decision after seeing “phone-number based 2FA be used – and abused – by bad actors.” Some critics are doubting Twitter’s explanation, however, and speculating that the company’s real intention is to add SMS 2FA as one of the features it offers with its subscription service.

NBC News reported that Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted “Yup” in reply to a user tweet that the company was changing policy “because Telcos Used Bot Accounts to Pump 2FA SMS,” and that the company was losing $60 million a year “on scam SMS”.

To my surprise, I actually agree with Elon Musk’s decision to remove the Twitter SMS in favor of having users seek out an authentication app. I’ve been using one for a while on Twitter (and other sites). As stated in the update, only you can access the 2FA app on your phone.

My only concern about this change is that it appears that those who pay for Twitter Blue will still have access to the Twitter SMS app. Based on the update, it sounds like that is actually less protection than what a 2FA app can provide.

Twitter Wants To Charge Bot Creators $100 A Month For API Access

The @TwitterDev account posted a short thread regarding access to Twitter’s API. The thread started with: “We have been busy with some updates to the Twitter API so you can continue to build and innovate with us. We’re excited to announce an extension of the current free Twitter API access through February 13. Here’s what we’re shipping then [thread emoji]”

“Paid basic access that offers low level API usage, and access to Ads API for a $100 monthly fee.”

“A new form of free access will be introduced as this is extremely important to our ecosystem – limited to Tweet creation of up to 1,500 Tweets per month for a single authenticated user token, including Login with Twitter.”

“Also on February 13, we will deprecate the Premium API. If you’re subscribed to Premium, you can apply for Enterprise to continue using these endpoints.”

“This is a new chapter for the Twitter API to increase quality, reduce spam, and enable a thriving ecosystem. We appreciate your patience as we implement these changes and we can’t wait to see what you build next! Stay tuned for more information on continued Twitter API access.”

TechCrunch reported that a week after Twitter made the announcement about shutting down free access to the API, the company will charge $100 per month for the basic tier of API. This will get developers “a low level of API usage” – without specifying what that exactly means – and the Ads API.

According to TechCrunch, the company had planned to shut down free access to its API on February 9, and now it has extended this deadline to February 13. But with no details available around API pricing restructuring and access levels, this extension seems symbolic as developers won’t be able to plan their changes.

TechCrunch also reported that there is a lot of uncertainty around academic research. Under the previous management, the company provided special access to researchers with API v2. However, there is no information that access will be taken away as the social network discontinues its free API tiers. Researchers rely on this data to signal trends around hate speech or misinformation on the platform.

People have also pointed out that engineers building solutions for natural disasters like earthquakes also rely on Twitter API. So discontinuing the free tier will affect those solutions.

Engadget reported that Twitter’s upcoming changes included an update that stated there will be “a new form of free access” that will allow “Tweet creation of up to 1,500 Tweets per month.”

According to Engadget, this clarification means that many of Twitter’s “good” bots – the automated accounts that tweet everything from historical photos to helpful reminders – will be able to continue on the platform. Previously, the future of these accounts was uncertain as many bot makers said they would not pay for API access.

To me, this looks like Elon Musk’s way of generating Twitter’s revenue. He is probably hoping that the majority of bot creators will pay $100 a month in order to keep their bots alive. My best guess is that most of them won’t be able to pay that much money a month – for a limited number of tweets. I think this is going to backfire.