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Elon Musk Needs to Remember that Twitter Users are the Product, not the Platform

by Lidia Lucovic

Regardless of whether one thinks Elon Musk has done a fantastic or terrible job running Twitter since taking the company private, it is clear that he has forgotten the centrality of its users to the platform’s value.

Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion last year and recognized during the initial sale negotiations that the company’s users are critical to its success, as evidenced by his attempt to pull out of the deal after he was dissatisfied with the number of bots on the platform. This clearly demonstrated his appreciation for the value of real Twitter users.

However, in an effort to bring Twitter back to profitability, Musk has forgotten this principle and has instead implemented changes that prioritize the platform’s bottom line over its users. The shift started with making key new features exclusive to Twitter Blue subscribers, including the ability to edit tweets, post long-form videos, and use an extended character limit. Although some users may have been dissatisfied with the lack of new features coming to them for free, in February 2023, Musk broke a cardinal rule of business by charging for something that used to be free.

If Musk insisted on placing certain free features behind a Twitter Blue subscription, it may not have been wise to choose an additional security method that could alienate a large portion of Twitter users, particularly those who value security. On March 20, 2023, Twitter announced through a pop-up message and a blog post that text message two-factor authentication will only be available to Blue subscribers. According to the company, 74.4% of the 2.6% of active Twitter accounts that use two-factor authentication rely on text message verification. Twitter cited security concerns as the reason for the change, as phone-number-based 2FA has been used and abused by bad actors. However, if this is the case, why would Twitter allow its paying customers to continue using a weak security protocol? Given Musk’s enthusiastic social media presence, it is clear that this change was not motivated by security.

In response to criticism of Twitter’s decision to make SMS verification exclusive to Blue subscribers, Musk wrote on Twitter, “Twitter is getting scammed by phone companies for $60 million per year of fake 2FA SMS messages.” The choice to limit SMS verification to Blue subscribers, like most of Musk’s changes to Twitter, was driven by money. The company will save money on sending SMS verification messages to users, and it will generate some revenue from users who subscribe to Blue for added security.

In theory, this change will encourage Twitter users to adopt a more secure form of two-factor authentication, saving the company money and better protecting users. However, 74.4% of users choose text message verification for a reason, and it’s likely that users will simply forego two-factor authentication rather than switch to a different method. Twitter is aware of this, but has determined that removing a core account security feature is worth the money it will save. This is the latest example of Musk disregarding the importance of Twitter users, and he should be cautious not to test their patience. They may abandon Twitter for a more user-friendly alternative, leading to its demise.

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What is your opinion?

HEATHER August 10, 2022 - 12:23 pm

Oh no, I left my phone at home.

chance August 11, 2022 - 10:56 am

As social media continues to evolve, it’s important that we maintain a critical eye on the impact it has on our lives, and the role that companies like Twitter play in shaping our digital landscape.

Lisa August 11, 2022 - 12:45 pm

Elon Musk’s Twitter account is a powerful tool for reaching a global audience, but it’s important that he remembers the power of his words and their potential impact.

david August 15, 2022 - 11:49 pm

As Twitter continues to refine its policies and practices, it’s important that users are empowered to shape the platform in a way that serves our needs and values.

AYONNA August 24, 2022 - 1:40 am

The relationship between social media companies and their users is complex and dynamic, but it’s essential that we hold these companies accountable for their impact on our lives and communities.

HYNEEFA September 22, 2022 - 5:15 am

The rise of social media has created a new landscape for public discourse, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the human beings behind the screens.

GERALDO September 24, 2022 - 3:43 am

Hmm, what should I wear today?

GENE September 24, 2022 - 5:26 pm

Wow, this book is really interesting.

LUIZ October 19, 2022 - 3:15 pm

Yay, it’s finally Friday!

JENNIFER November 10, 2022 - 5:14 am

Darn it, I can’t find my keys.

EVAN November 17, 2022 - 2:17 pm

Darn it, I got a parking ticket.

CLAUDIANA November 26, 2022 - 4:12 pm

Elon Musk’s recent Twitter behavior highlights the need for a more ethical approach to social media. It’s not enough to view users as a commodity to be exploited for profit.

Ginni December 19, 2022 - 3:15 pm

Aww, my friend’s baby is so cute.

Chris December 29, 2022 - 7:38 am

The evolution of social media has created a new paradigm for communication, but it’s up to companies like Twitter to ensure that users are treated with respect and dignity.

MICHELLE January 2, 2023 - 7:37 pm

It’s important for Elon Musk to remember that Twitter users are the product, not the platform. Without us, there would be no Twitter, and without our engagement, there would be no audience for his tweets.

CHARLES February 2, 2023 - 1:19 pm

Elon Musk’s Twitter account is a valuable tool for promoting his brand and connecting with fans, but it’s important that he uses it in a responsible and ethical manner.

Wendy February 14, 2023 - 9:42 pm

Elon Musk’s use of Twitter raises important questions about the power dynamics at play in social media, and the ethical responsibilities of companies to protect their users.


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