Image credit: DF / Public Seminar, from author’s tweets.
OK, I have launched my Twitter Blue experiment. Yep, go ahead and cancel me, but I did it. And you know what? I think a lot of people/accounts are quietly doing it too. This is why:
The gradual sense out there that Twitter is merely broken is, I think, fiction. What is broken is everything that is not Twitter Blue. What I noticed post 10/8 when Musk took over: dropping number of followers, mentions, impressions, and retweets.
Dropping followers is not always a sign of interference: a percentage of followers are always bots and spammers that are periodically purged. But now that I have access to analytics (a Twitter Blue perk!) I can see a dramatic drop in all categories in November.
This is followed by more gradual slides in December and January. But with only a drop in 300 followers, impressions dropped by more than half between November and January. That is…huge.
And it was what I had noticed. I was tweeting in the same way, using the same content, but getting almost no notifications, except for people who I had never heard of and who seemed to stumble across my tweets randomly.
The other thing I noticed was people vanishing from my timeline—except for @alexanderchee, who I was seeing constantly. This was nice but, again, unusual. So after initially deep-sixing the invitation to join Twitter Blue, I decided to see what would happen if I subscribed.
And whooo, Baby. It’s like going from a prop plane to a jet. Yes, you can edit. Yes, there is a pause that lets you check your tweet before sending it (particularly useful for me, the monarch of typos.)
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, I am getting notifications again, signaling that people are seeing my tweets again. It happened almost immediately. Twitter Blue is essentially a different Twitter—and the other, nonsubscription one is not neglected or “broken”—it got broke.
I am quite sure people are paying and not admitting it because they are embarrassed to be seen as knuckling under to Musk. But if you are a content producer? Yes, stay on the other platforms. But you have to pay the man, I’m afraid. Otherwise, you are f*cked. THE END
Claire Bond Potter is Professor of Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research and co-Executive Editor of Public Seminar. Her most recent book is Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy (Basic Books, 2020).