Twitter users are complaining that Elon Musk’s newly acquired company is manipulating their feeds to blast them with obnoxious tweets from extremists they loathe.
A significant number of users say that their profile feeds, or timelines, have become unrecognizable and are now riddled with tweets from extremists pushing perspectives they oppose. It’s a strange concept of “free speech,” which Musk claims to support.
Thousands of people responded to actor George Takei’s tweet Thursday complaining about the radical change in tweets he’s receiving, including one from “asshat” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), whom the civil rights activist pointedly noted he does not follow.
The surprise tweets are not “retweets or likes by others,” which would be expected to pop up. Instead, they’re “just random far-right tweets,” Takei noted. “I feel sullied by the experience.”
Oddly, a number of people on Twitter complained that tweets from teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse were suddenly popping up on their feeds. One user said Musk seems to be attempting to “de-algorithm” the left.
Still others complained about getting rando unwanted Twitter messages plugging Tesla, another Musk company.
Several right wingers responding to Takei insisted that being exposed to extremist tweets — which could include misogynistic, racist, antisemitic and trans- and homophobic messages — is “good” for progressives.
Twitter has confirmed that the intentional change is underway in a statement Thursday, saying that it is “expanding ‘recommendations’ to all users, including those who may not have seen them in the past,” apparently whether they like it or not. The statement describes the unwelcome tweets as the “best content on the platform.”
If “you’ve ever seen a Tweet ... from someone you didn’t follow, you’ve probably seen a recommendation,” explained a Twitter blog statement about the new policy in September. “Think of them as personalized suggestions.”
Many who responded to the new policy strongly disagreed with it and wondered how they could opt out of white supremacy “best content” recommendations.
Users are sharing tips on how to dodge Musk’s right-wing re-education program. Many suggested blocking tweets, though some users said Twitter appeared to be unblocking blocked senders. Also, for those with thousands of followers, like Takei, blocking extremists, especially when they’re powered by Twitter itself, could be a full-time job.
Others suggested changing (or sticking to) the preference for “latest” tweets rather than the “for you” timeline, a strategy that appeared to be confirmed in the Twitter blog — though how to make that choice was not immediately clear.
Meanwhile, users are continuing to seethe: