Twitter Users Will Soon Be Able To Buy A Blue Check Mark ‘Like Celebrities’ For $8 A Month | CBC News

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Twitter has announced a subscription service for US$7.99 per month that includes a blue check that is now awarded only to verified accounts, as new owner Elon Musk works to review the platform’s fair verification system. ahead of the US mid-term elections.

In an update to Apple iOS devices available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, Twitter said users who “sign up now” may receive a blue checkmark next to their names. “just like visiting celebrities, businesses and politicians.” go on.”

But Twitter employee Esther Crawford tweeted on Saturday that “the new Blue isn’t out yet; the sprint towards our launch continues, but some people may see us making updates because we’re testing and pushing changes in real time.” The verified accounts did not appear to be losing their checks thus far.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the subscription would launch, and Crawford didn’t immediately respond to a message clarifying the timing. Twitter also did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

There are concerns that anyone who can get the blue check could lead to confusion and increased misinformation ahead of Tuesday’s election, but Musk tweeted Saturday in response to a question about the risk of imposters posing as people. verified, such as politicians and election officials. — that “Twitter will suspend the account for attempted phishing and keep the money!”

“So if scammers want to do this a million times, that’s just a bunch of free money,” he said.

But many fear the widespread layoffs that began Friday could destroy the guardrails of content verification and moderation on the social platform that public agencies, election boards, police departments and media outlets use to keep people informed. .

The change marks the end of Twitter’s current verification system, which was launched in 2009 to prevent impersonation of high-profile accounts such as celebrities and politicians. Before the reform, Twitter had about 423,000 verified accounts, many of them from ordinary journalists around the world who were verified by the company regardless of how many followers they had.

Experts have raised serious concerns about the platform’s tampering with the verification system, which, while not perfect, helped Twitter’s 238 million daily users determine whether the accounts they were getting information from were authentic. Current verified accounts include celebrities, athletes, influencers and other high-profile public figures, along with government agencies and politicians from around the world, journalists and media outlets, activists, companies and brands, and Musk himself.

“He knows the blue check has value and he’s trying to exploit it quickly,” said Jennifer Grygiel, an associate professor of communications at Syracuse University and an expert on social media. “He needs to gain people’s trust before he can sell them anything. Why would he buy a car from a salesman who he knows has essentially turned into chaos?”

People walk past Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on Friday. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

Twitter’s update to the iOS version of its app doesn’t mention verification as part of the new “blue verification” system. So far, the update is not available on Android devices.

Musk, who previously said he wants to “verify every human” on Twitter, has said that public figures would be identified by something other than the blue check. Currently, for example, government officials are identified by text below their names indicating that they are posting from an official government account.

President Joe Biden’s @POTUS account, for example, says in gray letters that it belongs to a “United States government official.”

Mass layoffs of personnel

The change comes a day after the company began laying off workers to cut costs and as more companies pause advertising on Twitter as a wary corporate world waits to see how it will operate under its new owner.

About half of the company’s 7,500 employees were laid off, tweeted Yoel Roth, Twitter’s chief security and integrity officer.

He said the company’s front-line content moderation staff were the group least affected by the job cuts and that “efforts for election integrity, including damaging misinformation that can suppress the vote, and combating information operations supported by the state, remain a priority.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey took the blame Saturday for the widespread job losses. He had two runs as CEO of Twitter, with his most recent running from 2015 to 2021.

“I am responsible for why everyone is in this situation: I increased the size of the company too quickly,” he tweeted. “I apologize for that”.

Musk tweeted late Friday that there was no choice but to cut jobs “when the company is losing over $4 million a day.” He did not provide details on daily losses at the company, saying employees who lost their jobs were offered three months’ pay as severance pay.

Questions about content moderation

Musk also said that Twitter has already seen “a massive drop in revenue” as advertisers face pressure from activists to leave the platform, which relies heavily on ad revenue.

United Airlines on Saturday became the latest major brand to pause advertising on Twitter, joining the likes of General Motors, REI, General Mills and Audi.

Musk tried to reassure advertisers last week, saying Twitter would not turn into “everyone hell” because of what he calls its commitment to free speech.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and new owner of Twitter, in New York City on Friday. (Baron Capital/The Associated Press)

But concerns remain about whether a lighter touch on content moderation on Twitter will result in users sending more offensive tweets. That could damage companies’ brands if their ads appear next to them.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, urged Musk on Saturday to “ensure that human rights are central to the management of Twitter.” In an open letter, Turk said reports that the company’s entire human rights team and much of the AI ​​ethics team were fired was “not an encouraging start.”

“Like all businesses, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them,” Turk said. “Respect for our shared human rights should set the barriers for the use and evolution of the platform.”

Meanwhile, Twitter can’t just cut costs to boost profits, and Musk needs to find ways to generate more revenue, said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush. But that may be easier said than done with the new Blue Check subscription program.

“Users have gotten this for free,” Ives said. “There may be a massive pushback.”

He expects 20 to 25 percent of verified Twitter users to sign up initially. The stakes are high for Musk and Twitter to get this done early and for sign-ups to run smoothly, he added.

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” Ives said. “It’s been a train wreck the first week for Musk to own the Twitter platform. Now he’s cut 50 percent [of the workforce]. There are questions about the stability of the platform, and advertisers are watching this closely.”

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