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Musk's view count antics are perfect cover for Twitter's paid API failure
Quickly, Elon: Distract everyone from fact the platform can't support a single new thing you force on it
Opinion As another potential revenue stream for Twitter is held up, Elon Musk still seems to be more concerned with his tweet view count, confirming Monday that he'd undone every block he ever placed on his account.
Twitter originally announced the plan to end free API access on February 2, and on Feb 8, the day before the new paid API scheme was due to go into effect, the Twitter Dev account said the plan was being delayed until February 13. Today, the 14th, Twitter said the delay was being extended – this time without another date being given.
Citing an "immense amount of enthusiasm," which is definitely a generous interpretation of reaction to the plan, Twitter Dev said "we will be delaying the launch of our new API platform by a few more days … as part of our efforts to create an optimal experience for the developer community."
In its tweets on February 8, the Twitter Dev account said that paid API access would be available for $100 a month, and also announced that Twitter would be introducing "a new form of free access… limited to Tweet creation of up to 1,500 tweets per month."
Perfect timing to create some headlines
Twitter had been losing money, and while it's less clear now than it was when the company was public, Musk's claims Twitter is getting close to breaking even stand in contrast to his desperate pitches to advertisers, some of which have fled the platform.
Users don't appear to be hanging around either, as recent reports indicate overall users in the US are down, more among self-identified Democrats than Republicans. Another report predicted late last year that Twitter will lose 32 million users by 2024, largely driven by an influx of offensive content and technical frustrations.
All that chaos is the perfect opportunity for Musk to run a distraction, which he's been doing practically in sync with the API kerfuffle.
Twitter delayed paid API plans the first time on February 8, and a day later allegations broke that Musk had arbitrarily fired an engineer who pointed out that the Twitter CEO's reach was due less to algorithm issues and more to people simply being sick of him.
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Twitter added view counts to posts in late December, with Musk saying the new state would show "how much more alive Twitter is than it may seem, as over 90 percent of Twitter users read, but don't tweet, reply or like."
Unhappy with the results, Musk allegedly told staff the situation was "ridiculous," because he has "more than 100 million followers, and I'm only getting tens of thousands of impressions."
It's not entirely clear if Musk's changes have had the effect he wanted – his latest tweet at the time of writing indicates more work is happening, probably to help him maintain his spot as one of the world's most popular, and therefore coolest, people: "Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh … 'algorithm'." ®