Twitter launches $8 monthly subscription with blue check

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter on Saturday launched a subscription service for $7.99 a month that includes a blue check now given to verified accounts as new owner Elon Musk overhauls the platform’s verification system ahead of the U.S. election in mid-term.

In an update to Apple iOS devices, Twitter said users who “sign up now” can receive the blue tick next to their name “just like the celebrities, businesses and politicians you already follow.” So far, verified accounts don’t seem to lose their checks.

Anyone who can get the blue check could sow confusion and mount misinformation ahead of Tuesday’s election if possible imposters pay the subscription and use the names of politicians and election officials. Along with the widespread layoffs that began on Friday, many fear that the social platform that state agencies, election commissions, police departments and the media use to keep people reliably informed could become anarchic if moderation and content verification are removed.

The change represents the end of Twitter’s current verification system, which was launched in 2009 to prevent impersonations of high profile accounts such as celebrities and politicians. Prior to the overhaul, Twitter had about 423,000 verified accounts, many of which were grassroots journalists around the world that the company verified, regardless of its follower count.

Experts have raised serious concerns about changes to the platform’s verification system which, while flawed, has helped Twitter’s 238 million daily users determine if the accounts they are getting information from are genuine .

The update Twitter made to the iOS version of its app doesn’t mention verification as part of the new blue verification system.

Musk, who previously said he wanted to “verify all humans” on Twitter, hinted that public figures would be identified by means other than the blue check mark. Currently, for example, government officials are identified with text under the names indicating that they are posting from an official government account.

President Joe Biden’s @POTUS account, for example, states in gray letters that it is owned by a “United States government official.”

The change comes a day after the company began laying off workers to cut costs and more companies are suspending advertising on Twitter as a cautious business community waits to see how it will perform under its control. new owner.

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

He said the company’s frontline content moderation staff were the group least affected by the job cuts and that “election integrity efforts – including harmful misinformation that can suppress the vote and the fight against state-sponsored information operations – remain a top priority”.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey blamed major job losses on Saturday. He had two terms as CEO of Twitter, the most recent spanning from 2015 to 2021.

“I take responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company too quickly,” he tweeted. “I apologize for that.”

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

Meanwhile, Twitter has already seen “a massive drop in revenue” due to pressure from activist groups on advertisers to leave the platform, Musk tweeted on Friday. This hits Twitter hard because of its heavy reliance on advertising to make money. In the first six months of this year, nearly $92 of every $100 in revenue came from advertising.

United Airlines has become the latest major brand to suspend advertising on Twitter. Chicago-based United confirmed on Saturday it had made the move, but declined to discuss why or what it would need to see to resume advertising on the platform.

He joined the growing list of major companies suspending ads on Twitter, including General Motors, REI, General Mills and Audi.

Musk tried to reassure advertisers last week, saying Twitter would not become a “free hellscape for all” because of what he calls his commitment to free speech.

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

By BARBARA ORTUTAY Associated Press

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