Elon Musk is planning to dismantle Twitter’s decade-plus-old verification program, designed to increase trust in the social network by providing a visual signifier that high-profile accounts are, in fact, who they say they are.
Going forward, Musk’s $7.99/month Twitter Blue subscription will the only way to get the “verified” blue check-mark — except that the identities of the users who pay for that are not actually going to be verified by Twitter.
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“Far too many corrupt legacy Blue ‘verification’ checkmarks exist, so no choice but to remove legacy Blue in coming months,” Musk tweeted Thursday in reply to a user who asked why her “legacy” verification status was now showing up as a Twitter Blue verified account.
“Blue check will be the great leveler,” Musk tweeted on Wednesday, after he abruptly canceled Twitter’s rollout of separate “official” labels for high-profile accounts, which were supposed to replace Twitter’s legacy verification.
Entrepreneur and multibillionaire Mark Cuban tweeted at Musk that the change “killed the most valuable part of Twitter, the ability to quickly and easily find information from sources I have chosen to trust.” Cuban added, “I just spent too much time muting all the newly purchased checkmark accts in an attempt to make my verified mentions useful again.” Musk replied, “It’s working for me. That said, we can definitely make the verified mentions tab more usable.”
Twitter first introduced verified accounts in 2009, in order to help users identify that celebrities, politicians, companies, entertainment brands, news organizations and other accounts “of public interest” are the real deal and not impostor or parody accounts. Since Twitter Blue “verification” launched Nov. 9, numerous parody and fake Twitter accounts have cropped up.
For now, the blue check-mark can mean two different things: either that an account was verified under the previous verification criteria (i.e., that it’s an active, notable and authentic account), or that the account has an active subscription to the new Twitter Blue subscription service. Clicking on a Twitter account’s check-mark badge will pull up a message that explains which “verified” status it has.
Musk, the world’s richest individual who is CEO of Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, completed the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter two weeks ago and laid off 50% of the staff one week ago
In his first email to Twitter employees on Wednesday (Nov. 9), Musk said remote work would no longer be allowed and that staffers would be expected in office for at least 40 hours each week, Bloomberg News reported. “Sorry that this is my first email to the whole company, but there is no way to sugarcoat the message,” Musk wrote in the memo. “Frankly, the economic picture ahead is dire, especially for a company like ours that is so dependent on advertising in a challenging economic climate. Moreover, 70% of our advertising is brand, rather than specific performance, which makes us doubly vulnerable!”
Musk continued, “Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn,” adding that the company needs “roughly half of our revenue to be subscription.”
Meanwhile, more Twitter execs have resigned. Lea Kissner, Twitter’s chief information security officer, wrote in a tweet that they have left the company. In addition, chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty and chief privacy officer Damien Kieran have quit, the Verge reported.
An attorney on Twitter’s privacy team, in a post on the company’s Slack system that the Verge obtained, wrote that the legal team is asking engineers to “self-certify” compliance with FTC regulations and other privacy laws. “Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them,” the Twitter lawyer, whom the Verge did not identify, wrote. “I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetizable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.”
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