Here's why everyone, even Elon Musk, is locking their Twitter accounts

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(Image credit: iMore / Stephen Warwick)

Twitter's algorithm is so broken that users have discovered they can increase and improve engagement with their tweets by locking their accounts, and even CEO Elon Musk has had to test it out in order to find out what's going on. 

Musk took to Twitter on Wednesday stating "Made my account private until tomorrow morning to test whether you see my private tweets more than my public ones." 

This all started after Ian Miles Cheong posted the results of an experiment conducted on Twitter, revealing that setting your account to private "vastly improves your reach by a factor of 5x." Musk commented stating that the findings were "extremely concerning." He reiterated the sentiment in a response to Libs of TikTok on Twitter after it stated "put my account on private because apparently that’s the only way people will see your tweets." Musk said "something is wrong" and elsewhere "something fundamental is wrong" regarding the issue. 

Elon goes private

About 24 hours after he posted about his own experiment, Musk revealed the change "helped identify some issues with the system" that should be addressed by next week. It makes you wonder why Elon wouldn't rather consult with the team of engineers at Twitter regarding the issue. One commenter described it as "genuinely hysterical" that Twitter's algorithm "is in such a poor state to the point the CEO has to do field experiments" rather than consult the engineering department.

Yet "going private" is actually quite a well-established way of growing online. Overnight, the Washington Post's Taylor Lorenz took to Twitter and resurfaced her 2018 article for The Atlantic which revealed how influencers on platforms like Instagram were using account privacy to spur growth. "People go private because they get more followers when a follower sends a post to their friends and that person has to follow the account in order to see. It’s that simple," one social media specialist told her.

However, Musk's response seems to suggest he doesn't think that this is the way Twitter should operate, so it may be that he's planning to alter this going forward. 

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9