Twitter has made a significant change to its web platform, requiring users to sign in to view tweets, user profiles, and anything on the platform. If you’re not logged into your Twitter account and try to view a tweet, you’ll be presented with a sign-in screen. This move could be a tactic to force silent lurkers into creating an account, but it could also backfire. If tweets aren’t publicly accessible, search engine algorithms could rank the site’s content lower, meaning that fewer people would be directed to the site from Google. This change could also be a way to prevent AI tools from searching Twitter.
Elon Musk, who is still deeply involved in Twitter’s operations, has previously admonished Microsoft, which dropped Twitter from its advertising. The unexpected move from Twitter started rolling out on Friday, and there has yet to be any official announcement from the company.
Twitter’s remaining engineers appear to have solved Elon Musk’s complaint that his tweets aren’t getting enough views by making the algorithm force-feed all of Elon’s tweets to everyone. This seemed to turn Twitter into a platform where people complained about how all they see are Elon tweets. If Elon wants to turn Twitter into just his own personal blog by hijacking everyone’s feed, that’s no problem. Other sites are happy to take people who don’t want that kind of thing pushed to them.
Twitter will now require users to have an account on the social media platform to view tweets, a move that owner Elon Musk on Friday called a “temporary emergency measure”. Users who try to view content on the platform will be asked to sign up for an account or log into an existing account to see their favorite tweets. “We were getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users!” Musk said in a tweet. Musk has previously expressed displeasure at artificial intelligence firms like OpenAI and others using Twitter’s data to train their large language models.
Twitter already limits reading tweets without login for a few years. You could only see the latest tweets before a pop-up tells you to log in. However, in a time when Twitter is struggling to grow its user base, it’s possible that this is a tactic to force silent lurkers into creating an account.