Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter is planning to restart its premium service, which will offer different colored checkmarks for accounts next week, in a new move to update the service after a previous attempt backfired.
It’s the latest change to the social media platform that Tesla’s billionaire CEO bought last month for $44 billion. It came a day after Musk said he would provide an “amnesty” for suspended accounts, causing even more uncertainty for users.
Twitter had previously suspended a premium service that, under Musk, gave blue-tick labels to anyone paying $8 a month due to a wave of imposter accounts. Initially, the blue tick was given to government organizations, corporations, celebrities, and journalists verified by the platform to prevent impersonation.
In the latest version, companies will get a gold check, governments will get a gray check, and people who pay for the service, whether they’re celebrities or not, will get a blue check, Musk said Friday.
“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before verification is activated,” he said, adding that it was “painful but necessary” and promising a “more detailed explanation” next week. He said the service is “pre-launching” on Dec. 2.
Twitter suspended the revamped premium service days after it launched earlier this month after accounts posed as companies including pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., Nintendo, Lockheed Martin and even Musk’s own ventures Tesla and SpaceX, as well as various professional sports and political companies. numbers.
This was just one change in the last two days. On Thursday, Musk said he would grant an “amnesty” to suspended accounts following an online poll he conducted about whether accounts that “didn’t break the law or engage in egregious spam” should be reinstated.
Voted “for” 72%. Such online surveys are not scientific and can be easily influenced by bots. Musk also used it before recovering former US President Donald Trump’s account.
“The people have spoken. The amnesty will begin next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk wrote on Thursday, using a Latin phrase meaning “voice of the people, voice of God.”
Online security experts predict the move will fuel an increase in harassment, hate speech and misinformation. It could also put the company on a fast track to European regulators looking to crack down on harmful online content with tough new rules.
Zach Meyers, senior fellow at the think tank Center for European Reform, said granting a general amnesty based on an online survey is an “arbitrary approach” that is “difficult to reconcile with the Digital Services Act,” a new EU law that will begin to apply to the largest online platforms by mid-2023.
The law aims to protect Internet users from illegal content and reduce the spread of malicious but legal content. According to Meyers, this requires major social networks to “diligently and objectively” enforce the restrictions, which must be clearly set out in small print to users upon registration.
The UK is also working on its own internet safety law.
“If Musk doesn’t move quickly from a move fast and break approach to a more sober management style, he will be on a collision course with Brussels and London regulators,” Meyers said.
European Union officials have taken to social media to express their concern. On Thursday, the bloc’s executive committee of 27 countries released a report saying Twitter has taken longer to review hateful content and removed less of it this year compared to 2021.
The report was based on data collected in the spring – before Musk acquired Twitter – as part of an annual assessment of online platforms’ compliance with the block’s self-imposed code of conduct on disinformation. It found that Twitter assessed just over half of the illegal hate speech notifications it received within 24 hours, up from 82% in 2021.
The numbers could get even worse. Since taking office, Musk has laid off half of the company’s 7,500 staff, as well as countless contractors responsible for content moderation. Many others have resigned, including the head of the company’s trust and security department.
The recent Twitter layoffs and the results of the EU audit are “worrisome,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders tweeted Thursday night after meeting with Twitter executives at the company’s European headquarters in Dublin.
At the meeting, Reynders said he “underlined that we expect Twitter to honor its voluntary commitments and comply with EU rules,” including the Digital Services Act and the block’s strict privacy rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
Another EU commissioner, Vera Yurova, tweeted on Thursday night that she was concerned about news reports that a “massive number” of Twitter’s European employees had been fired.
“If you want to effectively detect disinformation and propaganda and take action against them, that requires resources,” Yurova said. “Especially in the context of the Russian disinformation war.”