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Twitter timelines filled with Musk tweets; API change delayed; Chinese dissidents invisible

A significant number of users are finding that their Twitter timelines are dominated by tweets from Elon Musk.

It follows the company’s owner complaining to engineers that his tweets weren’t getting as much attention – firing a senior one who told him it wasn’t a technical issue, just people being less interested in what the billionaire had to say …

Twitter timelines filled with Musk tweets

The fun began last week, when Musk called an internal meeting to complain that few people were reading his tweets.

On Tuesday, Musk gathered a group of engineers and advisors into a room at Twitter’s headquarters looking for answers. Why are his engagement numbers tanking?

“This is ridiculous,” he said, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. “I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”

One of the senior engineers present gave Musk the bad news: It wasn’t a technical issue, simply that his popularity (as measured by search traffic) had fallen from 100 in April of last year to just 9 today. Musk didn’t take the news well, firing the messenger.

“You’re fired, you’re fired,” Musk told the engineer.

It seems that other engineers, not wanting to share this fate, “fixed” things for Musk. The Verge staff, Platformer’s Zöe Schiffer, and NBC reporter Ben Collins were among those to experience the result.

For many of us, Twitter’s “For You” is full of tweets and replies to tweets from Elon Musk. Not everyone is getting the Elon-first feed, but on Monday afternoon, more than a few people noticed something was different.

Several of us here at The Verge are seeing more Musk replies than usual, and I personally counted five at the very top of my feed, with many more sprinkled in between tweets from other users. The same is true for some accounts that don’t even follow Elon Musk.

Musk asked users to “stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… algorithm,” while reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong won the internet today.

API change delayed

Musk also seems to be having second thoughts about the plan to charge for access to the Twitter API. The Twitter developer’s account tweeted that it has been delayed. The account appeared to misspell the phrase “dismay and ridicule” in the opening sentence.

Chinese dissidents rendered invisible on Twitter

Finally, the New York Times reports that more than 30 Chinese dissidents and activists are finding that their tweets and accounts are not showing up on the service, giving Bao Pu as an example.

In November, Bao Pu, a veteran human rights activist who was visiting Beijing, posted videos on Twitter of university protests against China’s tough coronavirus lockdown orders. He gained over 10,000 followers in subsequent weeks.

But friends and fellow activists soon told him they were having a hard time finding his posts — and even his account — on Twitter.

It’s as yet unclear whether this Twitter has given in to pressure from the Chinese government, or whether some other explanation applies. While recent Twitter glitches are a potential explanation, that would seem a little too convenient given the number and high profile of those affected.

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