Friday marked the first full day that Twitter’s new policies for verified accounts were enforced, and the results weren’t great.
Twenty-four hours after the blue checkmarks began to disappear from previously verified Twitter accounts, chaos reigned on the website, with spoofing and misinformation running rampant and few people signing up for the service than the changes. they intended to promote.
The move came under new owner Elon Musk, who has vowed to make the struggling social media company profitable by any means necessary, in this case, by attempting to force users to pay for verification services previously they were free.
Under the original blue verification system, Twitter had approximately 400,000 verified users, and the verifications meant that Twitter had verified that the users were who they said they were.
Under the new Twitter Blue program, individual users can pay $8 per month for a blue check mark, while organizations pay more than $1,000 per month. The change changed the meaning of the check from an account that was independently verified to one that paid a premium to help more people see your tweets.
The launch, and its results, have been chaotic. Here’s how things were on Friday:
Elon takes and he gives
Several high-profile Twitter users and celebrities lost their verified status on Thursday, including Beyoncé, Pope Francis and Oprah Winfrey. President Donald Trump, who has not tweeted since being allowed to return to the platform after being banned, has also not been verified.
Some famous users, including basketball star LeBron James, author Stephen King and Star Trek’s William Shatner, have vowed not to join Twitter Blue. All three still had blue checks on Friday after Musk said he paid for them himself.
“My Twitter account says I signed up for Twitter Blue. I have not. My Twitter account says that I have given a phone number. I have not done it,” Stephen King wrote On twitter. “You’re welcome, namaste,” replied Musk, who apparently gave it to the author for free.
‘Verified’ loses meaning
Blue checks for users on Friday included a pop-up stating that the account “is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and they verified their phone number.” But verifying a phone number simply means that the user has a phone number and has verified that they have access to it; does not confirm the identity of the person, which raises concerns about the veracity of such accounts.
Many took advantage of the new verification-free world on Twitter and changed their profile photos and names to impersonate prominent figures, from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to the late Arizona Sen. John McCain. Others made joke tweets posing as legitimate news accounts to spread misinformation mocking Musk.
The ability to impersonate legitimate organizations and figures raised concerns that Twitter could lose its status as a platform for getting accurate and up-to-date information from authentic sources, even in emergencies.
They began fake accounts claiming to represent Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. share messages early Friday falsely claiming that the city’s Lake Shore Drive, a major thoroughfare, would be closed to private traffic starting next month.
Genuine Lightfoot accounts and transportation agencies did not have a blue or gray checkmark as of Friday. Lightfoot’s office said the city is aware of the fake accounts and is “working with Twitter to resolve this matter.” At least one was suspended on Friday.
And while Twitter now offers gold checks for “verified organizations” and gray checks for government organizations and their affiliates, it wasn’t always clear why some accounts had them on Friday and others didn’t. Accounts for major transit systems in cities including Paris and San Francisco, as well as official weather trackers, had lost their verified status as of Friday afternoon.
Many affected agencies said they expected more clarity from Twitter, which has slashed its staff since Musk bought the San Francisco-based company for $44 billion last year.
Sloppy execution, few logs
The implementation of Twitter Blue, from user feedback to execution, has been a failure. Some pointed out that it looks like the blue checkmarks weren’t completely removed from the Twitter system, and they blinked for days before being removed.
Meanwhile, Twitter continues to push the program aggressively, tell advertisers that they must subscribe to Twitter Blue to continue running ads, at a time when the cash flow of major Twitter advertisers has dropped by 65%.
Twitter has apparently yet to benefit greatly from the massive change in policy, with various calculations from its Twitter Blue subscribers showing that any additional registrations under the new rules have been inconsequential.
independent researchers noted that according to publicly available information from the Twitter API, which is now available only by subscription, only 28 new accounts signed up for Twitter Blue after this week’s big push. another report put the number closer to 400 new accounts. An independent analysis by Travis Brown, a Berlin-based developer of social media tracking software, found that less than 5% of verified legacy accounts appear to have paid to join Twitter Blue.
Associated Press contributed to this report.