Elon Doesn’t Want Twitter to Feel Like a Waste of Time

Twitter CEO Elon Musk is now pushing users to have no regrets for the amount of time they spend on the app, in his newest push to make the app desirable and lure in advertisers. As Twitter’s advertising revenue dries up, Musk is continuously looking for ways to make the platform profitable, this time telling advertisers and Twitter users he wants Twitter to be “fun and interesting and informative.”

“The optimization for Twitter is: Maximize the unregretted user time,” Musk said at a conference last month as part of an attempt to reel in advertisers, The Wall Street Journal reported. “It’s not like ‘total number of users,’ or anything,” he said. “It is just total user minutes, unregretted.”

Musk took over Twitter in October, and soon after, he tried to promote the social media platform as Twitter 2.0, saying the company would use secret algorithms to attract more users to the app.

“I’ve heard like a lot of people say, ‘Hey, I spent two hours on TikTok but I regret those two hours,’ ” Musk told users in December. “The thing we’d want to optimize for is unregretted true human user minutes.”

Twitter users were asked to vote in a poll posted on Musk’s page on Sunday, which said, “We’re trying hard to make your feed as compelling as possible (maximize unregretted user minutes).” He questioned, “How is it now vs 6 months ago?”

The majority of voters, 49.5%, said their opinion of minutes spent on the site was better, while 15.9% reported it was the same and 38.2% said their regret of time spent on the platform had worsened. In response, Musk asked users what Twitter “should do more or less of, or aren’t including at all?”

Several users complained about increased shadow bans on Twitter, which is when a user’s account is partially blocked or blacklisted, or its visibility is reduced without the account holder’s knowledge. Other users complained that the platform’s algorithm reduced the content they want to see on their feed, while some said increased suspensions and the auto-refresh feature had worsened their experience.

“If you really want to help users spend their time well on social media, you need to figure out ways to find explicitly positive experiences and magnify those,” Ravi Iyer, a former Facebook data scientist and current managing director of the Psychology of Technology Institute, wrote in a Substack essay earlier this year.

He wrote if a social media platform wants to increase user engagement and decrease the amount of regret from time spent on the platform, companies need to focus on ways to “find explicitly positive experiences and magnify those.” He added, “… it is far more difficult to manufacture more such experiences than it is to create content that is simply ‘unregretted.’ The value to the user and the value to the company are not aligned.”

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