Twitter changes to benefit 'blue check' accounts only

Deutsche Welle

Posted at Mar 29 2023 02:47 PM

An exterior view of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, USA, February 27, 2023. John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/File

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has announced changes that will whittle down the experience for those not willing to cough up verification fees for their accounts.

On Monday Musk posted: "Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations."

The "For You" column appears on the home page and is an algorithm feed displaying tweets and content from other accounts, but will only be available to "blue check" accounts from April 15 onwards.

Musk: 'Blue check' the only way of tackling 'bot swarms'

The issue of spam and fake accounts has plagued the social media platform for years with fake news and disinformation.

Musk said that the verification was "the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle."

Musk said voting in Twitter polls would also require "blue check" verification, which Musk pointed out came at a cost of $7 per month if a person were to pay an up-front annual fee of $84. Otherwise, a month-to-month fee of $8 would be necessary.

The "blue check" has helped verify the identity of users including high profile users and celebrities, politicians, journalists and newsmakers.

Musk said that paid verification would increase bot costs by 10,000 percent and would make it easier to identify these types of accounts.

'Blue check' blues

Not everyone appears to be convinced with the benefits of "blue check" status or for paying for the feature.

Actor William Shatner has been among those complaining, and wrote in a post in which Musk was tagged: "I've been here for 15 years giving my (clock emoji) & witty thoughts all for bupkis," he wrote. "Now you're telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free?"

"It's more about treating everyone equally, There shouldn't be a different standard for celebrities in my opinion" Musk replied.

Monica Lewinsky also tweeted about her experiences on the platform with a screen grab of the amount of accounts using her name including a "blue check" account.

Lewinsky asked "in what universe is this fair to people who can suffer consequences for being impersonated? A lie travels half way around the world before truth even gets out the door."

Musk completed his $44 billion takeover of the social media platform in October. However the launch of "Twitter Blue" backfired with an embarrassing spate of fake accounts that scared advertisers and cast doubt on the site's future.

Musk was forced to briefly suspend the effort before relaunching it to muted reception in December.

kb/jcg (AP, Reuters)

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