That might make some companies nervous.
Last week, trolls took advantage of the new service to impersonate various corporations. One for example pretended to be Eli Lilly and proclaimed “We are excited to announce insulin is free now,” putting the pharmaceutical giant in damage-control mode.
The pranksters were able to easily pull off these stunts because, under Twitter Blue, anyone can pay $8 a month for a blue checkmark that, before Musk, indicated a notable company’s or individual’s identity had been verified. Twitter previously offered the verification for free
On Friday, users were reporting the recently introduced Twitter Blue was no longer available. But it was only on pause.
Musk’s push for Twitter Blue
Musk has warned Twitter cannot survive on advertising alone and needs to boost subscription revenue to survive, suggesting bankruptcy is a possibility in the recession he thinks is coming. In a Q&A session with employees on Thursday, Musk said he still had ‘recession PTSD’ from keeping PayPal and Tesla alive during tough years, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ad sales account for 90% of Twitter’s overall revenue. Advertisers, for their part, have continued to steer clear of Twitter since Musk’s $44 billion takeover. General Motors, United Airlines, General Mills, and others have paused advertising on the platform, worried about brand safety as Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist,” makes his changes. The use of racial slurs and other offensive material spiked on Twitter after Musk took control.
Dirk Van de Put, CEO of Mondelez International, one of the largest food and beverage companies, told Reuters on Tuesday, “What we’ve seen recently since the change on Twitter has been announced, is the amount of hate speech increase significantly. We felt there is a risk our advertising would appear next to the wrong messages.”
With companies nervous about both Twitter Blue trolls and risky advertising on the platform, much attention will be focused on how, exactly, the social network hampers or prevents impersonation once the subscription service restarts.
The company started to offer “official” labels this week for some accounts, but their distribution seemed arbitrary, and they soon disappeared.
“There are no sacred cows in product at Twitter anymore,” tweeted Esther Crawford, a Twitter employee who has been working on the verification overhaul.
She added, “Elon is willing to try lots of things — many will fail, some will succeed.”
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