Twitter is planning to defer the rollout of the verification check marks to its subscribers of the new USD 7.99 a month subscription service until after Tuesday’s midterm elections in the US, amid concerns over spread of false information, a media report has said.
The midterm elections on November 8 will decide the control of the US Congress and other important governorships.
The social media company made the call a day after announcing that it was rolling out the programme for subscribers to receive a verification check mark on their profile for the monthly fee.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Twitter is “delaying the rollout of verification check marks to subscribers of its new USD 7.99 a month subscription service until after Tuesday’s midterm elections”.
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“Power to the people. Your account will get a blue check mark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow,” Twitter said in the announcement for the blue tick on Saturday.
Several Twitter users and employees had voiced concerns that the new badges ”could cause confusion ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections because users could easily create verified accounts — say, posing as President Biden or as lawmakers or news outlets and publishing false information about voting results — which could potentially sow discord,” the NYT report said.
One Twitter employee, in an internal company communication, asked why the social network was “making such a risky change before elections, which has the potential of causing election interference,” the report said.
A manager working on the verification badge project said “we’ve made the decision to move the launch of this release to November 9, after the midterm elections,” it said.
In the immediate aftermath following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the billionaire entrepreneur has orchestrated significant changes at the company, including trimming the workforce by half.
“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over USD 4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50 per cent more than legally required,” Musk tweeted on Friday.
The NYT report said that Musk and his advisers “have also been discussing various ways to wring more money out of Twitter.
In addition to the check mark programme, they have talked about adding paid direct messages — which would let users send private messages to high-profile users — to the service, as well as “paywalled” videos, which would mean that certain videos could not be viewed unless users paid a fee.” In a series of tweets about changes at Twitter, Musk said “Trash me all day, but it’ll cost USD 8” and that Twitter will soon add the ability to attach long-form text to tweets, ending ”absurdity” of notepad screenshots.
He said going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying “parody” will be permanently suspended.
”Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue. Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark,” he said.
Musk noted that widespread verification will democratise journalism and empower the voice of the people and Twitter needs to become by far the most accurate source of information about the world.
”That’s our mission,” he added.