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Is Musk In Panic Mode As New Threads App Rolls Out?

Changes are coming thick and fast to Elon Musk’s Twitter as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to launch his much heralded rival network Threads.

The latest move is a reversal of an initiative that aimed to prevent people viewing a tweet unless they sign-in to an account. Over the years news journalists have been inserting tweets in online stories that are signposts to information they are presenting. Those tweets have been read by millions, many of whom don’t even have Twitter accounts, let alone are signed in.

Elon Musk raised the issue in a post on July 1, saying that several hundred organisations were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the user experience. “What should we do to stop that? I’m open to ideas,” he posted on his platform. He said action by Twitter to limit logged out access was a “temporary emergency measure”.

Twitter, which has been online since 2006, has likely dealt with these emergencies before more delicately without sudden, jolting changes to the user experience.

This particular issue may have died down with non user access restored, but there have been others. TechCrunch reports that this week a “disproportionate” number of users were notified that they had been suspended for three days due to spam. Recently Musk put a limit on the number of posts users can read on the platform to 1,000 a day.

And last December, Twitter announced users’ tweets could no longer link to “prohibited platforms” such as Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon.

“We know that many of our users may be active on other social media platforms; however, going forward, Twitter will no longer allow free promotion of specific social media platforms on Twitter,” Twitter said at the time.

To be fair, Musk did declare war on Twitter bots when he became CEO in October last year, and limiting the number of daily tweets read, attacking spam, and reducing the scraping of tweets from outside the network is consistent with that aim, but the way he has gone about it seems to have created mayhem both for users and non-users.

Musk, who has had to conduct these operations with reduced staff due to the large-scale sackings at the network, says he is “open to ideas” about handling the problem. His unique style of supposedly crowdsourcing network security to users by being “open to ideas” may not offer them comfort, but anyway, we expect he’ll be taking his lead from Twitter’s senior engineers.

It will be up to new CEO Linda Yaccarino to pick up the pieces following Musk’s tenure. She is already attempting to do so by explaining the reasoning behind some of the moves. Twitter’s blog, for example, says the limit on reading tweets was mainly because of the degree of data scraping. It explained why no warnings were given to users.

“To ensure the authenticity of our user base we must take extreme measures to remove spam and bots from our platform. That’s why we temporarily limited usage so we could detect and eliminate bots and other bad actors that are harming the platform. Any advance notice on these actions would have allowed bad actors to alter their behaviour to evade detection,” the blogpost says.

“At a high level, we are working to prevent these accounts from 1) scraping people’s public Twitter data to build AI models and 2) manipulating people and conversation on the platform in various ways.

“Currently, the restrictions affect a small percentage of people using the platform, and we will provide an update when the work is complete. As it relates to our customers, effects on advertising have been minimal.

“While this work will never be done, we’re all deeply committed to making Twitter a better place for everyone.”

Yaccarino’s approach is to highlight the method among all the madness.

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