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An increasingly fragmented internet
Plus, Instagram plans to launch Threads tomorrow
I hope those of you in the U.S. had a restful holiday weekend.
At Twitter, things were anything but restful. Last Friday, Twitter started blocking unregistered users from accessing content on its platform. Then on Saturday, the company began limiting the number of posts registered users could see. According to Elon Musk, the measures were temporary and intended to “address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation.”
There were ripple effects. Hundreds of millions of tweets disappeared from Google Search. TweetDeck, a popular Twitter workflow tool, started to break, and Twitter announced a new version only available to paying subscribers. Instagram, likely sensing opportunity, announced its plans to launch a competitor app called Threads.
Surveying the situation, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney made a larger observation: “The internet feels increasingly broken. News sites are paywalled or account walled, Reddit is nag walled, Google search spams ads and SEO to the point of uselessness, and now Twitter is account walled. Web browsing feels horrible now.”
It rings true. The internet does feel more disjointed. Search results are increasingly crowded; publishers are putting content behind paywalls; and AI is threatening incumbent models. As a result, people are becoming more discerning about where to find information on the internet, defaulting less often to Facebook or Google and turning to messaging apps, AI-powered chat interfaces, or specialized websites.
For publishers, this fragmentation makes user acquisition difficult. There are more channels to manage, many with diminishing returns. But, as existing platforms degrade, publishers have a rare opportunity to reestablish themselves by helping their audiences navigate the disjointed landscape.
And here’s the latest news in digital media:
Instagram is expected to launch Threads tomorrow. Based on a description and screenshots from its app store listing, the new standalone app looks similar to Twitter with the ability to like, comment, and share text-based posts.
Google plans to block news in Canada. The move, which would remove news from the company’s Search, News, and Discover products, comes in response to the passage of Canadian legislation requiring that platforms pay news publishers for their content. Meta announced similar restrictions for Facebook and Instagram last week.
More on publishers:
Several top news publishers are considering forming a coalition to address the impact of AI on the industry.
NYT Executive Editor Joseph Kahn discussed his first year in the role.
London business newspaper City AM is up for sale.
NYT published an oral history of Paper Magazine.
More on platforms & AI:
ChatGPT paused a new “Browse with Bing” feature after it helped users bypass website paywalls.
Runway, which builds AI tools for content creators, raised a $141 million Series C.
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