If you somehow haven’t heard, Elon Musk has bought Twitter and has already started announcing and making major changes to the way the social media site works. One of the most controversial is that Twitter verification is moving from a free to a paid feature, but the change may be even worse than we first thought: the blue check may no longer require actual verification.
In explaining why Musk’s changes will destroy Twitter, US editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff highlighted some of the issues with having to pay for the blue tick.
First, unlike Netflix, HBO Max, and the other best streaming services, Twitter doesn’t create its own content, instead relying on its users to deliver it. And unlike YouTube, there’s no in-app way for creators to monetize Twitter. In fact, the change would require Twitter’s most valuable assets (the best creators) to pay for the privilege of making Twitter better without getting anything in return.
Second, while $8/month (about £7/AU$12.50) isn’t much, it’s more than many currently verified people are willing to pay. Some politicians and other government accounts will reportedly receive a separate free verification-like mark; but scientists, journalists and other trustworthy sources who don’t pay will once again struggle to stand out in the sea of bots, liars and spam accounts.
But if that wasn’t bad enough, leaked internal documents seen by The New York Times (opens in new tab)after the merger of Twitter Blue and Twitter Verification, subscribers do not need to verify their identity to receive the blue check.
If this is true, the only thing that will stop a bad actor from getting a fake account verified is an $8 per month fee. For people who want to cause chaos by pretending to be someone they are not, or set up a scam that steals valuable information or money from unsuspecting victims, $8 is a small price to pay.
Of course not every scammer can cough up for every account they have, but a single verified account would probably have a lot more power to deceive and scam people than an army of unverified accounts – as many people would reasonably expect a verified account to be be sincere.
Part of this change could be because of the major layoffs expected to be announced today (November 4) at the social media company. If Twitter cuts its workforce as drastically as predicted, the people who remain may no longer be able to operate the Twitter verification system as it currently exists. This simpler method, which provides Twitter Blue subscribers with an instant tick, requires far less oversight and is easier to manage with a smaller workforce.
As with all leaked information, we should take this news with a grain of salt. Whatever gets leaked — or even what Elon Musk tweets — we won’t know how Twitter Verification and Twitter Blue will change until the company officially releases the details (which is expected to be Monday, November 7).
But if the changes The New York Times warns about materialize, then Musk’s claims that paying for verification are the “only way to beat the bots and trolls (opens in new tab)” is wrong. This wouldn’t beat the bots, it would give them a boost.