Critics of Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover says any plan to charge users for identity verification could make information on the site less reliable and more vulnerable to manipulation – devaluing the company.
The idea of a monthly fee for blue checkmark verification by user names was reported on Sunday by Casey Newton’s tech-focused newsletter, Platformer. Currently, notable users can receive verification for free provided they meet a series of qualifications.
Musk hasn’t confirmed a filler will be added but on Sunday tweeted“The whole verification process is being overhauled right now,” on his own verified account.
He gave the idea more oxygen the same day by taking a survey from tech investor and friend Jason Calacanis, who asked how much users would be willing to pay for verification. Over 80% of respondents said they would not pay.
And early Tuesday, Musk responded to a post from author Stephen King, who threatens to leave the service if he had to pay a monthly fee of $20 for his blue check. “If instituted, I’m gone like Enron,” King wrote.
“We have to pay the bills one way or another! Twitter can’t rely entirely on advertisers,” Musk said. replied. “How about $8?” »
Calacanis, who at one point was helping Musk raise money for the purchase and jokes in his Twitter bio that he’s the company’s director of memes, said argued expanding verification will improve the site.
“Having many more verified people on Twitter, while removing bot armies, is the fastest path to making the platform safer and more usable for everyone,” he said. tweeted Monday.
“These aren’t the *only* ways to make Twitter safer and more usable, but they will have a quick and dramatic impact,” he added.
Jeff Jarvis, a prolific Twitter user who teaches at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and studies how information travels in the digital age, fears such a plan could backfire. He was part of a chorus of voices saying the idea was bad for both users and the company.
“Every scuzzy prankster, marketer and propagandist will buy a blue tick and therefore completely devalue the blue tick. And Musk won’t have anything left to sell,” Jarvis told NBC News, referring to the possibility of the check turning into a paid option.
About a quarter of American adults use Twitter, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, and its influence may be even greater: the conversation about the service forms the backdrop to the political and cultural debates that dominate the social media cycle. news every day. Much of its value comes from its media value – the statements made by the companies, celebrities, elected officials and journalists who cover them. And this value is largely based on the verification system that the company has in place.
James Ball, global editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, also opposed the paid verification plan. In an article published Monday for Britain’s New Statesman, he recalled being spoofed by a fraudulent Twitter account before being verified.
“Without a free way for notable accounts to confirm they are real, it would be easier for fake accounts posing as banks, government agencies, or notable people to trick innocent users and spread fake news. “, he wrote, adding that the absence of limited accounts and free verification would turn Twitter into “a hacker’s paradise”.
Others said they would welcome the change.
“I think it’s a good idea and it would pay off” tweeted Scott Gallowayprofessor of marketing at New York University and an active user of the site.
“I would if ALL the money went to charity,” musician John Michie tweeted.
Some said they would consider paying to use Twitter, but it didn’t make sense to do so specifically for verification.
Marcus Hutchins, a British security researcher who is prominent on the platform and said on the platform, he would be “happy to pay for Twitter”, but he added: “If it’s about highlighting notable accounts, then allowing people to buy it undermines the point.”
There are said to be at least 400,000 verified users on the platform. The company, which did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, launched a subscription service at $4.99 per month for some benefits, but no verification, in June 2021.
The potential audit plan was the latest news about Musk’s takeover of Twitter to attract attention.
The spread of misinformation in the age of social media continues to reshape cultural and political dialogue, with many observers warning of the consequences if left unchecked.
Musk has fanned the flames himself, most recently tweeting and then deleting a link over the weekend to a known conspiracy website that published a baseless claim regarding last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Questions remain about how a subscription verification plan would affect officials and government agencies, including election offices, who use the service to quickly disseminate critical information to the public.
Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat who represents a district north of Los Angeles, said he doesn’t think he’ll pay a fee to maintain his vetting status and believes such a deal could amount to a form of blackmail for people in the public eye.
“He’s really saying I better get a blue check or I’m going to look like a fraudster,” he said. “This is not an attempt to recover costs. This is an attempt to turn fraud prevention into a profit center. Just because he paid too much for Twitter doesn’t mean I should pay too much for verification.
Some have noted that Twitter’s verification system also serves as a self-protection measure for the company. Then-St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued the service in 2009, for example, after a user created a fake account with his name. The following month, Twitter launched a beta version of the verified account feature.
“Verifications improve the credibility and veracity of expertise in the Twitter ecosystem,” Jarvis said. “If Twitter is a miserable experience, people won’t use it and advertisers won’t want to be there.”
Musk recently sought to reassure advertisers that Twitter would remain a destination of interest to them.
It’s unclear to what extent charging verified users would serve business results.
Sarah T. Roberts, a UCLA information studies professor and former Twitter employee, said she didn’t think it would significantly help the company’s finances.
“It’s a really weird place to monetize,” she said. “It’s kind of blind to the value that certain high-level users bring to Twitter. And it enriches the experience, and you’re going to ask them to pay for the privilege?
While at Twitter, Roberts was part of a team that helped the company moderate health news. She left earlier in 2022, after less than a year. She said she came to appreciate the research and work that had gone into the company’s systems and said it was foolish to change things without studying them or doing so under the influence of outsiders who had little information about the company.
“Twitter has had a lot of people working on issues like UI design and innovation, testing them with user groups and people who specialize in working with VITs – very important Twitter users “, she said.
“That’s not to say new executives shouldn’t rethink some of them, but it’s a pretty weird way to go about it, asking random people on Twitter who your fan base is. sycophantic, about these complicated design and monetization plans.”
Roberts said he’s heard from many former colleagues still at Twitter who are upset at the prospect of the company’s mission changing so rapidly and potentially randomly.
“It’s by all accounts a nightmare,” she said. “Everyone is trying to get by”
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