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Twitter users can soon buy a blue checkmark ‘just like the celebrities’ for $8 a month

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Twitter has announced a subscription service for US$7.99 per month. This includes blue checks currently only given to verified accounts, as new owner Elon Musk is working to overhaul the platform’s verification system just before the US midterm elections.

In an update for Apple iOS devices available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Twitter said that users who “sign up now” will have a blue icon next to their name “just like celebrities, businesses and politicians.” I said I could receive a checkmark. obey now. ”

But Twitter employee Esther Crawford said on Saturday, “The new Blue isn’t out there yet. We’re still in the sprint to launch, but we’re testing and pushing changes in real time, so it’s going to take some time.” People in the department may see us doing an update,” he tweeted. Verified accounts don’t appear to be losing checks so far.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the subscription would go live, and Crawford didn’t immediately respond to messages clarifying the timing. Twitter also reached out for comment but didn’t immediately respond. .

Despite concerns that being able to get their hands on a blue check could lead to more confusion and disinformation ahead of Tuesday’s election, Musk said on Saturday that he’d be able to get verified checks by politicians, election administrators and others. Tweeted in response to a question about the risk of scammers impersonating people — “Twitter will suspend accounts that attempt to impersonate you and keep your money!”

“So even if a scammer wants to do this a million times, it’s just a pile of money,” he said.

But widespread layoffs that began Friday have created guardrails for content moderation and verification on social platforms used by public agencies, election commissions, police and news outlets to keep people informed. Many are concerned that the may be destroyed.

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

Twitter’s 238 million daily users help determine if the accounts getting information are genuine. Currently verified accounts include celebrities, athletes, influencers and other celebrities, as well as government agencies and politicians, journalists and media outlets, activists, companies and brands around the world, and Musk himself. increase.

“He knows the value of blue checks and is ready to take advantage of it,” said Jennifer Grigiel, an associate professor of communication studies and social media expert at Syracuse University. You have to earn people’s trust before you can sell anything.Why buy a car from a salesman who has proven to be chaotic in nature?”

People walk outside Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Friday. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

The updates Twitter has made to the iOS version of the app do not mention verification as part of the new “blue check” system. So far, the update is not available for Android devices.

Musk previously said on Twitter that he wanted to “verify every human”, but clarified that celebrities could be identified by means other than blue checks. are identified by text under their name indicating that they are posting from an official government account.

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

mass dismissal of staff

The change comes a day after the company began laying off workers to cut costs, and while it waits to see how the cautious business world operates under new owners, it’s no longer advertising on Twitter. An increasing number of companies are suspending operations.

About half of the company’s 7,500 staff have been laid off, tweeted Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity.

The company’s front-line content management staff are among the groups least impacted by job cuts, and are “struggling with the integrity of the election, including combating harmful misinformation and state-sponsored information manipulation that can suppress voters.” Addressing the issue remains a top priority,” he said.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey took responsibility for such widespread job losses on Saturday. He served as his CEO of Twitter on his two occasions, most recently from 2015 until he was in 2021.

“I’m responsible for why everyone got into this situation. We scaled the company too fast,” he tweeted. “very sorry.”

Musk tweeted late Friday that he had no choice but to cut staff “when the company is losing more than $4 million a day.” He did not provide details of the daily losses at the company, but said employees who lost their jobs were provided with three months’ wages as severance pay.

Content management questions

Musk also said Twitter has already experienced a “significant drop in revenue” as advertisers face pressure from activists pulling out of Twitter, which relies heavily on advertising revenue.

United Airlines on Saturday became the latest major brand to suspend advertising on Twitter, joining companies such as General Motors, REI, General Mills and Audi.

Mr. Musk tried to reassure advertisers last week, saying Twitter would not become “a hell for everyone” because of its commitment to free speech.

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

However, the concern remains that a touch on Twitter’s content moderation will encourage users to send more aggressive tweets. A company’s brand can be tarnished if the company’s advertisements appear next to it.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk called on Musk on Saturday to “ensure that human rights are central to the management of Twitter.” In his open letter, Turk said reports that the company’s entire human rights team and many of its ethical AI teams had been laid off were not a “promising start.”

“Like all companies, Twitter must understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them. must be set.”

Meanwhile, Twitter can’t simply cut costs and increase profits, and Musk needs to find ways to make more money, said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. But with Blue Check’s new subscription program, it might be easier said than done.

“Users get this for free,” Ives said. “There may be a massive backlash.”

He expects 20-25% of Twitter’s verified users to sign up initially. He added that the stakes are high for Musk and his Twitter to get this right early and for the signup to work smoothly.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” said Ives. “Mr. Musk’s first week of owning the Twitter platform was a disaster. [of the workforce]Only the stability of the platform is questionable and advertisers are keeping a keen eye on this. ”

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