A lot has changed on Elon Musk’s Twitter. Algorithmic updates have altered which tweets users see whenever they open the app. Verification modifications have taken away once-coveted blue checks, and given others access to them if they pay. Tweet view numbers are now visible to everyone.
“The scene from the Titanic where the captain closes the door and is going down with the ship—I’m kind of withdrawn to that being my fate,” Rob Perez, who runs the account @WorldWideWob tweeting live sports clips and viral memes, said in an interview.
Yet, despite broader turmoil on the platform (one recent report found the number of monthly active mobile users has dropped 14%), the NBA playoffs have brought a sense of normalcy to the sport’s online fans. LeBron James is still tweeting trash talk to his 53 million followers. Woj continues to drop bombs. Whichever team exits next in the playoffs should expect as many online roasts as before.
Each entry in the decade-long scrapbook of snark that is the NBA’s corner of Twitter is a reminder of the service’s value to the league—and what would be lost if Musk’s next change somehow severs those ties.
“I don’t know if NBA Twitter is ever going to go away,” Perez said. “Despite all the chaos and mayhem and glitches across the website that Elon has brought to the forefront, NBA Twitter seems to just rise above it all.”
Still, Perez added, the quality of the content has deteriorated a bit. More creators are thinking of Twitter as a way to promote their monetizable content on other platforms, such as Substack, rather than their home base online. ‘Wob’ himself includes links to his YouTube shows on many of his most popular posts these days.
Twitter’s workforce is currently around 1,000 people, down from 7,500 employees at the time of Musk’s takeover. Among the departed is the company’s former top sports executive, TJ Adeshola.
“His absence will be felt by many,” Perez said, “so that kind of leaves sports Twitter in a very peculiar place now that the General is gone.”
For all the talk about Twitter’s changes, Bailey Carlin, the founder of digital media agency Bad Brain, said the effects have been minimal for his clients, which include ex-players and media brands. “I haven’t noticed anything particularly different outside of just the general attitude and feeling that it may come to an end eventually,” he said.
Clients regularly ask him if it’s worth it to be on Twitter these days, “which is still a resounding ‘yes’ from me,” Carlin said.
Most recently, Bluesky has emerged as the latest Twitter alternative. The social network funded by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey offers many of the same core features but plans to separate itself by becoming a decentralized system that can’t be ruled by a single individual leader.
Many of Twitter’s recent changes, meanwhile, have come in an attempt to keep up with other attention-seekers. The “For You” feed acts like TikTok’s main page, offering personalized content recommendations rather than relying on a user to actively follow accounts and emphasizing popular posts over the most recent ones. Twitter’s proposed tools for creator monetization match what Twitch and YouTube have used to woo personalities.
But both of those strategies also risk disturbing what made Twitter so enticing to sports fans in the first place. Since the beginning, the site has offered an up-to-the-second free-for-all of breaking news and instant reactions coming from all corners. At Twitter’s best, meme makers could become stars, and stars could become shitposters.
For the last 10 years, the service has functioned as a global watch party during sports’ biggest moments. But no party lasts forever.