Twitter is Going Just Great

...and is definitely not sinking to the bottom of the ocean with Elon at the helm.

Musk announces that the block feature will be removed

Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter's user block feature "is going to be deleted as a 'feature', except for DMs." He had previously stated that "blockings public posts [...] needs to be deprecated in favor of a stronger form of mute," and has complained about large block lists and mass blocking campaigns against users who subscribe to Twitter Blue.

# Promise, Twitter changes

Twitter finally adds a paywall for TweetDeck

TweetDeck—which has been rebranded to X Pro, though it will still be referred to as TweetDeck here—had announced on July 3rd that it would put up a paywall (requiring users to buy Twitter Blue) within 30 days. Two weeks days after the deadline came and went, users started to report encountering a "sales page" for Twitter Blue. Two days later, an official Twitter account posted about the change.

# Twitter changes, Twitter Blue

Twitter added a 5 second redirect delay to sites Elon doesn't like

Twitter had added a 5 second delay to its link shortener that it uses for links in Twitter posts, which allows it to track which links are clicked. According to The Washington Post, it throttled links to various sites, including: The New York Times, Reuters, Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Bluesky, Substack. According to an anonymous user on Hacker News, the throttling was added on August 4th around noon Pacific time. A few hours after The Washington Post released an article about it, the delay mysteriously disappeared for some sites.

# Free speech

Twitter fined $350K for missing deadline to hand over January 6th data

Twitter was fined $350,000 for refusing to comply with a search warrant on Donald Trump’s Twitter account earlier this year. In January, special counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant for former President Trump’s Twitter account. Four days after the deadline, Twitter submitted an objection, declining to hand over the information. At a February 7th hearing, the court found Twitter in contempt, but offered the company the chance to purge that finding if it provided the requested materials by 5PM that evening. Amazingly, Twitter missed that deadline. The company sent over some records, but “its production was incomplete.” It wasn’t until February 9th that X handed over all of the records requested by the government. The company was fined $350,000 for missing the deadline, which was upheld by a federal court last month.

# Legal

Twitter announces "Sensitivity Settings," allowing advertisers to choose what types of posts their ads will appear next to

Twitter has announced "Sensitivity Settings" for advertisers, which are entering testing. It provides three options: Related (which is marked as "coming soon" and not selectable), Standard, and Conservative. The standard option allows advertisers to decide if they want their content to appear next to posts flagged as generally sexual, obscenity, spam, and drugs, and Relaxed allows posts to appear next to excessive profanity and "gratuitous gore." Posts are flagged with machine learning.

# Free speech, Twitter changes

Twitter announces delay for ad revenue-sharing payouts

As is typical with Twitter under new management (Elon), they are late on payments yet again. Twitter's support account tweeted that the "Ads Revenue Sharing" program—where users can get a cut of the profit when others view the ads on their posts—will "need a bit more time to review everything for the next payout," claiming that "the volume of people signing up for revenue sharing has exceeded our expectations" without attaching any numbers.

# Twitter Blue

Twitter adds option to hide Twitter Blue checkmark

The Verge reported that Twitter Blue subscribers recently began noticing an option to "hide your blue checkmark" in the Twitter settings. However, the Twitter support page for the Twitter Blue subscription admits that "the checkmark may still appear in some places and some features could still reveal you have an active subscription," and "some features may not be available while your checkmark is hidden." Additionally, despite the option being a simple on-off toggle, Twitter promises to "continue to evolve this feature to make it better for you."

# Twitter Blue, Twitter changes

Giant X logo on top of Twitter HQ is taken down

Workers prepare to dismantle a large X logo on the roof of X headquarters on July 31st, 2023, in San Francisco, California.
Workers prepare to dismantle a large X logo on the roof of X headquarters on July 31st, 2023, in San Francisco, California. - Attribution

After a slew of complaints (24 of them!) from local residents complaining about the giant flashing X on top of Twitter HQ and a violation notice from the city, it was abruptly taken down. Residents complained about the "extremely intense white stroboscopic light," as the X logo was lit by frontal lights that flashed in strobing patterns, Which is not only dangerous to those with photosensitive epilepsy. The logo also happened to be across the road from a large apartment building and was visible through the windows. Additionally, aerial shots showed that the structure was held down by sandbags, raising safety concerns that the X might fall onto the passerby walking on the street below.

City inspectors notifying the company that the sign was in violation of safety codes—as Twitter lacked a permit for having a structure on the roof—asked to see the the sign for inspection and were turned down on two separate occasions. They were told that the it was a "temporary lighted sign for an event." By the third time, the sign was already being taken down.

# Offices, Rebrand

Twitter sues nonprofit anti-hate researchers for alleged data scraping

Twitter had sent a letter to the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and threatened to sue the nonprofit for unspecified damages. In response to that letter, lawyers for the CCDH accused X of "intimidating those who have the courage to advocate against incitement, hate speech and harmful content online." They also said that X's allegations had no factual basis. The lawsuit stems from a media report published in July, which stated findings from CCDH's research saying that hate speech had increased towards minority communities on the platform since Musk acquired the company in October 2022. Twitter and its CEO Linda Yaccarino called the report "false" and said it was based on "a collection of incorrect, misleading, and outdated metrics, mostly from the period shortly after Twitter's acquisition."

# Legal

Twitter HQ sign finally removed

What was previously the "@twitter" sign outside of Twitter HQ. It is now just a blank rectangular block, though you can faintly make out the lettering.
What was previously the "@twitter" sign outside of Twitter HQ. It is now just a blank rectangular block, though you can faintly make out the lettering. - Attribution

The text from the "@twitter" sign outside of Twitter HQ has finally been removed, leaving just the blank white body of the sign itself. However, you can still faintly make out the remnants of the text.

# Offices, Rebrand

The BBC launches an "experimental" Mastodon instance

The BBC News Labs has created a mastodon instance,, in what they describe as a "part of an experiment from BBC R&D in establishing a BBC presence in the Fediverse" and that "we will run it for 6 months and then decide whether and how to continue." Regardless of the outcome, a major news organization such as the BBC exploring the fediverse as an alternative to Twitter—especially after Elon Musk made a Twitter post explicitly glorifying the act of spreading disinformation—shows that a shift to the fediverse isn't out of the question. As detailed in the blog post the BBC published, Tristan Ferne writes about the challenges of "explaining the federated model [to people who are] much more familiar with the centralised model of ownership." This appears to indicate a willingness to commit to the fediverse long-term.

# Migration

Giant X logo is put on top of Twitter HQ

Two workers putting up a large X logo that looks like it was made out of steel beams on top of the Twitter headquarters building.
Two workers putting up a large X logo that looks like it was made out of steel beams on top of the Twitter headquarters building. - Attribution

Elon Musk had a huge "X" logo put on the roof of Twitter HQ. City officials are investigating whether the company had the necessary permission to install the logo. Elon has joked that the building's landlord "keeps calling the police about our sign modifications."

# Offices, Rebrand

Twitter takes the @x handle from an active user

Gene X Hwang originally registered the @x handle on Twitter more than 16 years ago. Hwang was waiting for Twitter to contact him, but only ended up "[getting] an email basically saying they are taking it." The email came from the generic email address and there was no back-and-forth discussion. His account was then migrated to @x12345678998765. Twitter did offer that he could select "an alternative handle with the history of the @x account," though he hasn't picked one yet.

# Rebrand

Disassembly of Twitter HQ sign interrupted by police

San Francisco police officers were called to Twitter HQ on Monday afternoon because the building owners weren’t told about the big "@twitter" sign outside of the building being changed. The police called off the operation, leaving with the lettering on one side fully intact and only the letters "er" still mounted on the other side of the sign. However, the mounts and lighting behind the removed letters is still there and is visible.

# Offices, Legal

Bloomberg reports that Twitter's rebranding is "Set to Kill Billions in Brand Value"

International news agency Bloomberg published an article titled "Twitter Turning Into X Set to Kill Billions in Brand Value." The article details how "analysts and brand agencies call the product’s renaming a mistake," as "Twitter is one of the most recognizable social media brands," the verbs 'tweet' and 'retweet' are described as a "part of modern culture." The rebrand to X "will require the company to rebuild that cultural pull and linguistic consensus from scratch." The article details that the rebrand has already had an effect on revenue: "as the perception of Twitter’s brand has changed, advertisers have fled," contributing to the "[wiping out of] anywhere between $4 billion and $20 billion in [brand] value."

# Rebrand

Twitter now publicly lists user subscriptions

Twitter profiles now display a user's active subscriptions next to "following" and "followed" lists, and there doesn't seem to be a way to opt-out of this list being displayed publicly. The feature was added without warning, more than likely catching users off-guard. Mashable reported that Elon's subscriptions included "a few meme accounts, a handful of Tesla fan accounts, and a multitude of right wing personalities [...]."

# Twitter changes

Twitter is complying with more government demands under Musk

Twitter's self-reported data shows that the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance, despite Elon's promises of free speech. Rest of World reported that "in its first six months under Musk, Twitter has received more orders than in the previous twelve months combined." Since Elon's acquisition, "the company has received 971 government demands and fully complied with 808 of them," with a full compliance rate of over 80% compared to the pre-Elon rate of 50%. In the span of a year before Elon bought the company, Twitter had turned down 8 requests; under Elon, the company has not refused a single request in the span of half a year.

# Free speech, Legal