Elon Musk has announced the relaunch of Twitter’s verification service that will require holders of the blue check mark to pay $7.99 a month.
The service will be rolled out on November 29.
“Punting relaunch of Blue Verified to November 29th to make sure that it is rock solid,” the billionaire tweeted Wednesday.
Punting relaunch of Blue Verified to November 29th to make sure that it is rock solid
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 15, 2022
The roundly criticised paid verification check mark was launched earlier this month before being shortly suspended. Twitter paused the service after users started abusing it for impersonations of celebrities and famous brands, leading to a stunning public display of misleading information on the social networking platform. There had already been concerns around the convenience with which a verification badge could be secured if it was to come with a price tag.
The spate of impersonators led to the verification badge being yanked by Twitter. This indicated that Musk’s plans to monetise the platform weren’t yielding the desired results.
One major incident of impersonation that received widespread attention was when an account purporting to be associated with pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly tweeted out, “we are excited to announce insulin is free now”, triggering a sharp drop in Eli Lilly’s stock price. AbbVie, another pharmaceutical firm, fell victim to a similar hoax, too. The impersonation episode has resulted in a number of advertisers (including General Motors, Volkswagen, and Audi) opting out of Twitter, leaving the platform’s future uncertain with regards to revenue through advertisements.
Musk’s continuing sacking of employees in bulk and erratic decisions have plunged Twitter into a deep crisis. So far, the human rights and ethical AI teams, key privacy and security executives, and outsourced content moderators tracking abuse on the platform have either resigned or been fired from Twitter.
Musk, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist”, is also under fire for notoriously firing employees who argue with him on Twitter. Since the completion of his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last month (after trying to walk away from the proposed deal), Musk has not only laid off employees who have challenged some of his decisions, but also publicly mocked them.
Last week, a company lawyer warned the staffers in an internal Slack channel that Musk’s disregard for rules and regulations could get Twitter in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), jeopardising both employees and users.