After one of the most insane weeks on Twitter, since Elon Musk took over (which is saying something), a new feature has rolled out: you can now see how many “views” each tweet had right beside the replies, retweets, and likes.

Musk himself explained the intention behind the new feature as such: 

“Twitter is rolling out View Count, so you can see how many times a tweet has been seen! This is normal for video."

Shows how much more alive Twitter is than it may seem, as over 90% of Twitter users read, but don’t tweet, reply or like, as those are public actions.” (Source: Twitter)

As for what counts as “one view”, Twitter says that this is any time that tweet appears on someone’s screen, including your own. It also doesn’t matter where the tweet is seen on the app or if it’s someone you follow – if it showed up it counts as a view. (Source: Twitter Help)

While the intention is clear, users have not really loved this idea so far. For many, it’s only further showing how poor Twitter’s engagement is for most content (especially links to articles or other websites) and it clashes with some of the platform’s recent changes. For example, having a clear idea of engagement is nice, but Musk has also recently confirmed that Twitter Blue subscribers will get priority in response threads and search results, which will ultimately boost their views.

Also, being able to see your views per tweet was already present in the platform before, but it was hidden behind an analytics panel. Now that the view count is the first number to the left of a tweet and made public to everyone though, it will become a much more important metric when considering engagement.

It creates a lose-lose situation: if you pay the subscription you know that a lot of your views are inorganic, and if you don’t, you constantly feel behind because of the imposed lack of reach.

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

And simply looking through Musk’s thread is a great example of how this works. You have to scroll down for a long time to start seeing non-subscribers, and the recently added view counts are interesting. For example, a reply by a user calling him out on losing stock for Tesla has 5k likes and 400 retweets, but over 900k views.

A bit further down, another user asks if scrolling past tweets quickly still count as views. His tweet has a modest 700 likes and retweets at the time of writing, but over 200k views.

The new metric definitely offers some more insight into how Twitter works – it was obvious that way more people would choose not to interact or simply ignore any given tweet (sometimes even without noticing if they’re just scrolling down without paying attention), but it’s not clear what value this offers for users.

For the platform, the value is clear: they want to show that not getting likes or retweets doesn’t mean your tweet wasn’t seen. If Twitter starts pushing for views to be the main metric of success and engagement, then suddenly, subscribers will have the advantage. And the more people are subscribed, the more they are competing amongst themselves, leaving all non-subscribers buried under every thread.

From a business perspective, it makes sense, but it’s yet another change to the platform that makes the experience worse for users with pretty much no upside.

It certainly doesn’t help that Twitter’s UI was clearly not designed for this. On the feed, it now shows five icons side by side, but when opening a tweet it shows four icons under 3 or 4 numbers.