Twitter's decline: gradual, then sudden

Elon Musk's decision to limit access to registered users, and to sharply rate-limit how many tweets they can read, "really broke Twitter this time," writes Charlie Warzel for The Atlantic.

First, Twitter set a policy requiring that web users log in to view tweets—immediately limiting the potential audience for any given post to people who have Twitter—and later, Musk announced limits to how many tweets users can consume in a day, purportedly to counter "extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation." Although these measures will supposedly be reversed, as others have been during Musk's tenure, they amount to a sledgehammering of a platform that's been quietly wasting away for months: Twitter is now literally unusable if you don't have an account, or if you do have an account and access it a lot. It is the clearest sign yet that Musk does not have his platform under control—that he cannot deliver a consistently functional experience for what was once one of the most vibrant and important social networks on the planet.

Here's the thing: everyone asking "doesn't Elon know you can't serve ads on views that aren't happening?" isn't realizing that he doesn't really care. The new reality that media folks can't quite adapt to is that Twitter is now Elon Musk's personal website. To even think of it as a modern equivalent of a Hearst newspaper is a media-brained search for meaning only fleetingly in play. The reason that all this is difficult to understand (and the reason we keep talking about Twitter at all) is because journalists are stuck there out of professional obligation and inertia. It used to be the social network of record and it takes a while for that to drain away. Gradually, then suddenly.