Elon Musk’s announced rate-limit is yet another in a long line of demonstrations that Musk doesn’t understand the platform he bought last year. Tragically, it may be the one that officially ends Twitter.
Musk announced on Saturday he would be limiting the amount of tweets users could view per day. Initially, this limit ranged from 300 to 600 for unverified users up to 6,000 for verified users. Later, he revised those numbers to 400 to 800 for unverified users up to 8,000 for verified users.
Musk did so under the guide of “address(ing) extreme levels of data scraping (and) system manipulation,” though the truth is he is testing whether this could be the catalyst for Twitter Blue subscription growth he’s been seeking.
It appears Musk tragically misread the room.
Not only has sentiment been overwhelmingly negative, the move actively forces disengagement from the platform. This is important because it directly works against the all-important “minutes spent on platform” key performance indicator that social networks live and die with.
The move also undermines new CEO Linda Yaccarino’s efforts to breathe life into a struggling Twitter advertising model. Fewer eyeballs, fewer advertisements to sell. One has to wonder what Yaccarino’s reaction is to the news.
The opportunity for Twitter as the ultimate second screen was, and sans rate-limit remains, vast. For more than a decade, people have found great utility in watching live events with Twitter open in their hands. Over the course of a three hour sporting event or awards show, many consume thousands of tweets. A good second screen experience is truly one of the greatest mobile app experiences we’ve had. (It’s yet to be seen which of the Twitter clones is capable of taking over as our second screen platform.)
It stood to reason Yaccarino would be able to hone in on that user experience (and other relevant trends) to drive significant ad-side results. Yaccarino, who was chair of advertising sales at NBCUniversal before accepting the CEO job at Musk’s X Corp. (parent company of Twitter), recently shared her vision with the global sales team which includes closer relationships with ad partners, focus on trust, and deeper integrations (including, perhaps, e-commerce).
One has to wonder how that (or any) effort works if you shrink the size of the total tweet viewership.
Elon Musk, celebrated by some as a “business genius,” appears to have found his way to another entry in business textbooks and case studies: this time, as the man who destroyed $44 billion in value and a beloved platform in record time.