Less than a day after Elon Musk implied that Twitter users might soon only see tweets from paid subscribers in their default feed, the billionaire was forced to clarify that posts from accounts users follow will still be visible, too.
Twitter’s “For You” tab, the first screen that users see when they open the app, curates tweets by using an algorithm. That means it can surface tweets from people you don’t follow. Late Monday, Musk said the For You tab will soon only recommend people who pay for the premium Twitter Blue service.
“Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations,” he announced in a tweet Monday evening. “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.”
But on Tuesday, Musk tweeted a clarification: “Forgot to mention that accounts you follow directly will also be in For You, since you have explicitly asked for them.” Oops.
In the five months since Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter, he and the company have been forced to rethink, clarify, delay or walk back a number of changes to the platform, prompting some confusion and whiplash among users in the process.
Appearing in the “For You” feed helps users build their number of followers. Voting in polls doesn’t benefit users in the same way, but blocking them from voting may prompt some to sign up for the paid service.
Musk frequently posts his own polls on Twitter, asking users everything from whether he should give up his position as CEO of the platform to whether he should sell shares of Tesla
Although Musk said Twitter is making the change to battle with bot accounts, he later tweeted “That said, it’s ok to have verified bot accounts if they follow terms of service & don’t impersonate a human.”
It is part of Musk’s plans to shift Twitter away from being almost completely dependent on advertising dollars for its revenue. A significant portion of Twitter’s ad base has left the platform since Musk took over in October.
Last week, Musk announced that users who have had a free blue checkmark – typically government officials, celebrities, members of the media and other high profile users – would lose that free verification starting in April unless they agree to pay a subscription fee – either $84 annually or $8 a month.
Musk and actor William Shatner clashed on Twitter over the weekend, when Shatner objected to the idea of paying for the checkmark.
“Hey @elonmusk what’s this about blue checks going away unless we pay Twitter?” Shatner tweeted. “I’ve been here for 15 years giving my time & witty thoughts all for bupkis. Now you’re telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free?”
Musk responded to Shatner on Sunday in a tweet: “It’s more about treating everyone equally. There shouldn’t be a different standard for celebrities.”