Elon Musk Has Forgotten Twitter Isn’t The Product, Its Users Are

Regardless of whether someone thinks Elon Musk has done a fantastic or terrible job running Twitter in the months since taking the company private, one thing is clear – he’s forgotten that its users are central to the platform’s value. Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion last year, and during the initial sale negotiations recognized that the company’s users are critical to its success. That’s evidenced by his attempt to pull out of the deal after he was dissatisfied with the number of bots on the platform. By trying to avoid the purchase of Twitter due to the number of fake accounts on the social media site, Musk clearly appreciated the value of real Twitter users.

But in an effort to bring Twitter back to profitability, Musk has forgotten that principle and has instead instituted changes that prioritize the platform’s bottom line over its users. The shift started with making key new features exclusive to Twitter Blue subscribers, including the ability to edit tweets, post long-form videos, and utilize an extended character limit. Although some users may have been dissatisfied with the lack of new features coming to them for free, Musk took things a step further in February 2023. He broke a cardinal rule of business — never charge for something that used to be free.

Musk Places SMS 2FA Behind Twitter Blue

And if Musk was dead-set on putting certain free features behind a Twitter Blue subscription, maybe choosing an extra security method — designed to root out the fake and stolen accounts he so vehemently despises — wasn’t the best idea. Through a pop-up message and a Twitter blog post, the company announced that text message two-factor authentication would be only available to Blue subscribers starting March 20, 2023. Of the 2.6 percent of active Twitter accounts that use two-factor authentication, 74.4 percent use text message verification, the company says.

In the blog post announcing the change, Twitter says that it is making the shift due to the security concerns that come with SMS two-factor authentication. « While historically a popular form of 2FA, unfortunately we have seen phone-number based 2FA be used — and abused — by bad actors, » the company said. But if that’s the case, why would Twitter allow its paying customers to be the ones to continue using a weak security protocol? Thanks to Musk’s overzealous social media presence, it’s clear this change wasn’t really about security at all.

« Twitter is getting scammed by phone companies for $60 million per year of fake 2FA SMS messages, » Musk wrote in reply to a tweet criticizing the decision. Like most of the changes Musk has made since taking control of Twitter, the choice to make SMS verification exclusive to Blue subscribers was driven by money. The company will spend less on sending out SMS verification messages to users, and will make limited revenue through the users who decide to subscribe to Blue to secure their account.

In theory, the change will force Twitter users to switch to a more secure method of two-factor authentication. That would save Twitter money and better protect users — a true win-win for both parties. But there’s a reason that 74.4 percent of users chose text message verification, and it’s likely users will just stop using two-factor authentication instead of switching to a different option. Twitter knows this, but has decided that taking away a core account security feature is worth the money it’ll save. It’s the latest instance of Musk forgetting that users are the heart of Twitter, and he should be wary of testing user patience. They just might leave the social media site for a more favorable option, all but ensuring Twitter’s downfall.

Source: Twitter 1, 2, Elon Musk/Twitter