Elon Musk says X is changing its algorithm to highlight smaller accounts
The company formerly known as Twitter is preparing to roll out a “major update” to its algorithm, according to a recent post by X owner Elon Musk. While today the app’s For You feed surfaces popular and trending posts from its broader network alongside highlights from those you follow, the new algorithm will surface posts from smaller accounts, Musk said.
The posts and accounts will include those outside users’ “friends and follows” network, he noted, meaning the change will attempt to expose users to new accounts they may find interesting but haven’t yet discovered. It would also allow smaller creators the opportunity to be discovered by a wider audience, which fits into Musk’s plan to turn X into a creator platform.
Over the past several months, X has targeted creators with features like support for long-form posts, that extend the character limit to 25,000 for paying subscribers, the ability to upload two-hour videos and, importantly, the opening of an ad revenue-sharing program that has now paid out nearly $20 million to creators, according to statements last month made by X CEO Linda Yaccarino.
A major update to the recommendation algorithm is rolling out over the next few days.
This will help surface smaller accounts and posts outside of your friend-follows network.
As always, this will be made open source and undergo continuous improvement.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 10, 2023
The larger idea is to allow creators to build their audience on X and then monetize their posts through a combination of ad revenue sharing and subscriptions, where fans can pay for exclusive content. Other features have also been designed with the one-on-one fan-to-creator connection in mind, including support for receiving message requests from subscribers, and more recently, the addition of audio and video calling features, which could turn X into an alternative to Cameo, in addition to being basic social features.
To date, however, creators’ embrace of X is uncertain. While there are some building small audiences on X, more often than not, creators looking to monetize turn to larger platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram to reach their followers and a wider audience. But an X algorithm change, if successful, could potentially give smaller creators greater reach on X — which, in turn, could increase X usage and improve discoverability. Or at least that’s likely the working theory here. Whether or not it will work is another matter entirely, given X’s alleged dwindling traction in the year since Musk took over and the rise of new startup competitors, including Bluesky, Post, Spill and others.
Musk noted on Friday, November 10, that the recommendation algorithm update would roll out in the next few days — which would mean this week — and would be made open source as it undergoes continuous improvement.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.