7 December, 2022

Twitter confirms fee for blue-tick verification after Musk takeover

Twitter has confirmed plans to allow users to buy blue-tick verified status.

In an update for Apple devices, the company said the feature would be open to users in certain countries who sign up to its Twitter Blue service for $7.99 (£7) per month.

The policy change is controversial, amid concerns that the platform could be swamped with fake accounts.

It follows Twitter’s takeover by Elon Musk, who on Friday laid off around half of the company’s workforce.

The sought-after blue tick was previously only available to high-profile or influential individuals and organisations – who were asked to prove their identity.

It has been used as a sign that a profile is authentic, and is a key tool to help users identify reliable information on the platform.

The policy change may fuel worries that government figures, celebrities, journalists and brands could be impersonated by any user willing to pay a monthly fee.

Musk, the world’s richest person, appears to be looking to diversify Twitter’s income, following his acquisition of the firm late last month in a $44bn (£39bn) deal.

On Friday, the billionaire said Twitter was losing more than $4m (£3.5m) per day, insisting that this gave him “no choice” over culling around half the company’s 7,500-strong workforce.

The cuts – as well as Musk’s fierce advocacy of free speech – have caused speculation that Twitter could water down its efforts on content moderation.

However, Musk has insisted that the firm’s stance towards harmful material remains “absolutely unchanged”.

On Saturday a top United Nations official, Human Rights Commissioner Volker Türk, urged Musk to “ensure that human rights are central to the management of Twitter”.

The unusual UN intervention pointed to the sacking of Twitter’s whole human rights team, saying this was “not an encouraging start” under Musk’s ownership.

Few details were publicised relating to the change in verification policy, and a Twitter Blue subscription reportedly remained at its old price of £4.99 in the UK following Saturday’s announcement.

Twitter’s update said the changes would apply only in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at first.

A flurry of tweets from Musk himself suggested the changes would be rolled out worldwide after they were observed in the initial handful of countries.

It was not clear what would happen to those profiles which already had a blue tick – or if Twitter still planned to “verify” a user other than by charging them a subscription.

Responding to one user who asked what would happen to existing verified profiles, Musk said the timeline for changes to be implemented was a “couple [of] months”.

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