Twitter announces Blue Check subscription service for $7.99 monthly fee

Twitter has announced a subscription service for $7.99 per month that includes a blue check now only given to verified accounts as a new owner Elon Musk is working on revamping the platform verification system just before US midterm elections.

In an update to Apple iOS devices available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Twitter said users who “sign up now” for the new “Twitter Blue with verification” may receive the blue checkmark next to their name “just like the celebrities, businesses and politicians you already follow.”

But Twitter employee Esther Crawford tweeted on Saturday that “the new Blue is not live yet – the sprint towards our launch continues, but some people may see us making updates as we test and push changes in real time”.

Verified accounts didn’t seem to lose their checks so far.

It was not immediately clear when the subscription would go live. Crawford told The Associated Press in a Twitter post that it was coming “soon but hasn’t launched yet.” Twitter did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Anyone who can get the blue check could sow confusion and mounting misinformation ahead of Tuesday’s election, but Musk tweeted on Saturday in response to a question about the risk of imposters impersonating verified profiles – such as politicians and election officials – that “Twitter will suspend the account attempting to impersonate and keep the money!”

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

But many fear widespread layoffs which started on Friday could remove the moderation and content verification safeguards on the social platform that public bodies, election commissions, police departments and the media use to keep people reliably informed.

The change will end Twitter’s current verification system, which was launched in 2009 to prevent impersonations of high profile accounts such as celebrities and politicians. Twitter now has about 423,000 verified accounts, many of them grassroots journalists from around the world that the company has verified, regardless of how many followers they had.

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 . Current verified accounts include celebrities, athletes and influencers, as well as government agencies and politicians around the world, journalists and news outlets, activists, businesses and brands, and Musk himself.

“He knows the blue check has value and he’s trying to exploit it quickly,” said Jennifer Grygiel, social media expert and associate professor of communications at Syracuse University. “He has to earn people’s trust before he can sell them anything. Why would you buy a car from a salesman you know turned out to be essentially chaotic?”

The update Twitter made 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 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, says in gray letters that it belongs to a “United States government official.”

The announcement comes a day after Twitter began laying off workers to cut costs and more companies are suspending advertising on the platform as a cautious business community waits to see how the platform performs. -form will work under its 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 and former CEO Jack Dorsey took responsibility for job losses.

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

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

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

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


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