Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Elon Musk's Twitter drops government-funded media label


TeaTwitter has removed labels describing global media organizations as government-funded or state-affiliated, a move that comes after the Elon Musk-owned platform began stripping blue verification checkmarks from those accounts. who do not pay the monthly fee.

Among those no longer labeled was National Public Radio in the US, which announced last week that it would stop using Twitter after designating its main account as state-affiliated media, a term used It is also used to identify media outlets controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments. such as Russia and China.

Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media,” but NPR — which relies on the government for a small portion of its funding — said it was still misleading.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Swedish Public Radio made similar decisions to stop tweeting. The CBC’s government-funded label disappeared on Friday, along with state-affiliated tags on media accounts including Sputnik and RT in Russia and Xinhua in China.

Several high-profile Twitter users lost the blue checks on Thursday that help verify their identities and separate them from the impostors.

Twitter had about 300,000 verified users under its original blue-check system – many of them journalists, athletes and public figures. The check meant that the account had been verified by Twitter to be who it is.

High-profile users who lost their blue checks on Thursday included Beyoncé, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey and former President Donald Trump.

The cost of marking ranges from $8 per month for individual web users to a starting price of $1,000 per month to verify an organization, plus $50 per month for each affiliate or employee account. Twitter does not verify individual accounts, as was the case with previous BlueChecks during the pre-Musk administration of the platform.

celebrity userEveryone from basketball star LeBron James to author Stephen King and Star Trek’s William Shatner shied away from joining — though on Thursday, all three had blue checks indicating the account had paid for verification.

King, for one, said he hasn’t paid.

“My Twitter account says I subscribed to Twitter Blue. I didn’t. My Twitter account says I gave a phone number. I didn’t,” King tweeted on Thursday. “Just so you know “

In response to King’s tweet, Musk said “You’re welcome Namaste” and in another tweet he said he was “paying some personal attention.” He later tweeted that he was only paying for King, Shatner and James.

Singer Dionne Warwick tweeted earlier in the week that the site’s verification system was “a complete mess.”

“The way Twitter is going, I could be anybody now,” Warwick said. She previously vowed not to pay for Twitter Blue, saying the monthly fee “could (and will) go towards my extra hot lattes.”

On Thursday, Warwick lost his blue check (which is actually a white check mark on a blue background).

For users who still had their Blue check on Thursday, a popup message indicated that the account “is verified because they’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.” Verifying a phone number simply means that the person has a phone number and has verified that they have access to it — it does not verify the person’s identity.

It wasn’t just celebrities and journalists who lost blue checks on Thursday. Many government agencies, nonprofits, and public-service accounts around the world found themselves not verified, raising concerns that Twitter is losing ground as a platform for receiving accurate, up-to-date information from authentic sources, including in emergencies. You may lose your position.

While Twitter offers gold checks for “verified organizations” and gray checks for government organizations and their affiliates, it is unclear how the platform does these.

The official Twitter account for the New York City government, which previously had a blue check, tweeted on Thursday that “This is an authentic Twitter account representing the New York City government, the only account @NYCGov operated by the New York City government”. In an attempt to clear up the confusion.

A newly created spoof account with 36 followers (also without the blue check) disagrees: “No, you’re not. This account is the only authentic Twitter account operating and representing the City of New York City.”

Soon, another spoof account — claiming to be Pope Francis — also weighed in: “Pope Francis, by the authority vested in me, I declare @NYC_GOVERNMENT the official government of New York City. With you in peace Stay.”

Fewer than 5% of legacy verified accounts have paid to join Twitter Blue, according to an analysis by Travis Browne, a Berlin-based developer of software for tracking social media.

Musk’s move has upset some high-profile users and pleased some right-wing figures and Musk fans who thought the points were unfair. But it hasn’t been an obvious money maker for the social media platform that has long relied on advertising for most of its revenue.

Digital intelligence platform SimilarWeb analyzed how many people signed up for Twitter Blue on their desktop computers and found just 116,000 confirmed sign-ups last month, which doesn’t represent a major revenue stream of $8 or $11 a month. does. Accounts purchased through mobile apps were not counted in the analysis.

After buying San Francisco-based Twitter in October for $44 billion, Musk has been trying to boost the struggling platform’s revenue by getting more people to pay for premium subscriptions. But his move also reflects his claim that the blue verification mark has become an ineligible or “corrupt” status symbol for celebrities, news reporters and others who were given free verification by Twitter’s previous leadership.

Twitter started tagging profiles with a blue check mark about 14 years ago. One of the main reasons was to provide an additional tool to prevent misinformation coming from accounts impersonating people, along with protecting celebrities from impersonators. Most “legacy blue checks”, which include accounts of politicians, activists and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists in small publications around the world, are not household names.

One of Musk’s first products after taking over Twitter was to launch a service that provided blue checks to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. But it was quickly flooded with impostor accounts, including those impersonating Nintendo, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Musk’s businesses Tesla and SpaceX, so Twitter had to temporarily suspend the service a few days after its launch.

The relaunched service costs $8 per month for web users and $11 per month for users of its iPhone or Android apps. Members are expected to see fewer ads, post longer videos, and have their Tweets featured more prominently.

— Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

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