Elon Musk threatened to jettison the "block" feature on Twitter/X, which led to plenty of drama on the platform over the weekend, and meanwhile, something went awry with all photos and links from pre-December 2014.
It's honestly getting a bit exhausting both having to report on Donald Trump again and having to report on the seemingly endless saga over the company formerly known as Twitter, now called X because Elon Musk wants it that way. But here we are, on another Monday in which Musk stirred up some shit with a couple of tweets — which I still refuse to call anything else — and some major technical snafu seems to have impacted the platform as well.
First, on Friday morning, Musk set off a firestorm suggesting that the "block" feature on X would be going away, and going forward, users will only be able to "mute" other users — i.e. not be able to see their posts or replies, but they can still see your posts — and blocking will only apply to direct messages.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey seemed to endorse the plan in a subsequent tweet.
Block is going to be deleted as a “feature”, except for DMs— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2023
A clarifying note was then attached to Musk's tweet suggesting that removing the "block" feature would put X's app in violation of the rules of both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store — but it's unclear if that is true if the block feature remains for DMs.
This announcement riled many of Twitter's most active users — although there were plenty of fanboys and girls cheering on the move as well. (Musk, by the way, said he arrived in Japan on Thursday, but he seems to have spent a good chunk of his weekend replying to tweets and engaging in this blocking debate, including giving his endorsement of Taco Bell's Breakfast Crunchwrap, and declaring some support for Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.)
One user who was notably miffed was actor turned conservative Twitter pundit James Woods, who announced Friday that he would be forced to "retire" from the platform if the block feature gets removed. He ultimately reneged on that, declaring that his support from fans was enough to keep him fighting the good fight, but not before he engaged in a tweet spat with Musk, which included Musk saying, "Delete your account" and then blocking Woods, to make his point.
Amid all the pleasure Musk was ostensibly taking in blocking people and letting them notice, he also, oddly, tweeted something grim on Saturday. "The sad truth is that there are no great 'social networks' right now," he said. "We may fail, as so many have predicted, but we will try our best to make there be at least one."
The sad truth is that there are no great “social networks” right now.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 19, 2023
We may fail, as so many have predicted, but we will try our best to make there be at least one.
It's not clear if Musk was referring to the meltdown or whatever led to the apparent breaking of all shortened links and photos from prior to December 2014. As The Verge reports, it's unclear when the problem began, but a couple of users had pointed it out late last week, and by Sunday it appeared to be getting more notice.
The casualties included Ellen DeGeneres's famous Oscars selfie, taken on air during the ceremony with a group of celebs, which became the "most retweeted" tweet ever at the time, with two million retweets. That photo was restored by Sunday morning without comment, but the vast majority of media from 2014 and earlier appeared to still be missing, and neither Musk nor the company has acknowledged this yet.
"Despite speculation that it could be an intentional cost-cutting move by Musk, the fact that the actual media posted hasn’t been deleted suggests an error or bug of some kind, one of many that have arisen since last year’s takeover and mass layoffs," writes The Verge.
Anyway, nothing to see here folks!
Not being a public company anymore we don't know all the ins and outs of Twitter's growth, or lack thereof, in the last 10 months, or the exact details of its revenue. Insider Intelligence made its own speculative estimate earlier this year that Twitter's ad revenue would plummet another 28% this year amid an ongoing advertiser exodus. Supporting that is the reported loss of a couple more big advertisers, Gilead and Adobe, which allegedly suspended their ads on the platform in recent weeks after finding them displaying next to pro-Nazi content.
We don't yet know if X is going to be the platform on which Tucker Carlson's interview with Donald Trump will go live on Wednesday, in Trump's effort to upstage the official Republican candidate debate airing on Fox News. Carlson has been posting monologues and interviews on Twitter/X since his firing/suspension from Fox News in May, but Trump has remained loyal to his Twitter knockoff, Truth Social.
NBC News reported today that the Trump-Carlson interview has already been taped, and Carlson is now on vacation in Europe.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images