Twitter Saturday launched a subscription service for $8 a month that includes a blue tick now given to verified accounts as new owner Elon Musk overhauls the platform’s verification system ahead of US midterm elections.
In an update of Apple iOS devices, Twitter said users who “sign up now” can receive the blue checkmark next to their name “just like the celebrities, businesses and politicians you already follow.”
Change represents the end of Twitter’s current verification system, which was launched in 2009 to prevent impersonation of high-profile accounts such as celebrities and politicians. Prior to the overhaul, Twitter had about 423,000 verified accounts, many of which were grassroots journalists around the world that the company verified, regardless of its follower count.
Experts have raised serious concerns about changing the platform’s verification system which, while not perfect, helped Twitter’s 238 million daily users determine whether the the accounts they were getting information from were genuine. The update Twitter made to the iOS version of its app doesn’t mention verification as part of the new “blue verification” system.
It comes a day after the company began laying off workers to cut costs and more companies are suspending advertising on Twitter as a cautious business community waits to see how it will perform under its new owner.
About half of the company’s 7,500 employees have been laid off, tweeted Yoel Roth, Twitter’s chief security and integrity officer.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey blamed the widespread job losses on Saturday. He had two terms as CEO of Twitter, the most recent spanning from 2015 to 2021.
“I take responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company too quickly,” he tweeted. “I apologize for that.”
Musk tweeted Friday night that there was no choice but to cut the jobs “when the company is losing more than $4 million a day.” He did not provide details of the company’s daily losses and said employees who lost their jobs were offered three months’ salary as severance pay.
Meanwhile, Twitter has already seen “a massive drop in revenue” due to pressure from activist groups on advertisers to leave the platform, Musk tweeted on Friday. This hits Twitter hard because of its heavy reliance on advertising to make money. In the first six months of this year, nearly $92 of every $100 in revenue came from advertising.
United Airlines became the latest major brand to suspend advertising on Twitter. Chicago-based United confirmed on Saturday it had made the move, but declined to discuss why or what it would need to see to resume advertising on the platform.
Musk tried to reassure advertisers last week, saying Twitter would not become a “free hellscape for all” because of what he calls his commitment to free speech.
But concerns remain over whether a lighter touch on content moderation on Twitter will result in users sending out more offensive tweets. It could harm companies’ brands if their ads appear next to them.
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