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Twitter has now pulled the ability for new users to sign up for its’ premium Twitter Blue subscription service.
It’s unclear if this is a permanent move in what has been a chaotic week for the platform.
Early Friday morning, Twitter users began reporting that the option to pay $7.99 a month for the blue checkmark verification badge was suddenly gone. Previously, those interested in signing up could do so via a sidebar option. That has now disappeared for iOS users (it was never available for Android users) and for those that did still have the link, it went to an error message. “Thank you for your interest! Twitter Blue will be available in your country in the future. Please check back later,” the message read.
TWITTER BLUE’S WEEK FROM HELL
According to an internal Twitter Slack statement obtained by Platformer News Managing Editor Zoe Schiffer, the decision to suspend Blue was to “help address impersonation issues.”
MUSK IS FACING MULTIPLE CHALLENGES
We don’t know if the decision to remove Twitter Blue is temporary as it attempts to the combat fake accounts, spam, and bots that have swarmed the subscription service. It also could be part of a long-term policy shift.
Elon Musk’s Twitter transition is facing a magnitude of difficulty, including:
- Laying off half the Twitter staff, only to then try and bring back some employees that the platform later realized they still needed
- Resignation of many of the platforms’ senior staff (Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Privacy Officer, Head of Moderation and Safety, Chief Compliance Officer, as well as others)
- Possible Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigations that could lead to massive fines
- Backlash regarding newly created Twitter Blue accounts that have been fake, causing chaos on which Tweets are real or not
The last point is one that has been affecting everyone from legitimate companies, to the casual Twitter user. It has been an absolute MESS this week.
Musk’s problem here is that it’s not the same people freaking out because they’re still upset that he took over. Those people will complain about anything and Musk couldn’t care less about them.
MUSK ADMITTED TO STAFF THAT TWITTER HAS FINANCIAL ISSUES
However, this verification issue is now affecting EVERYONE, even his staunch supporters, as well as those that have been using the platform for years. If the service becomes too frustrating for even his allies and the Twitter veterans, then Musk may have a real issue, especially as some advertisers have pulled out and the platform is facing some financial difficulty.
Yesterday, Musk reportedly told Twitter staff in an all-hands meeting that the company has financial problems so bad that, “bankruptcy is not out of the question,” unless they start generating a significant amount or revenue. The $7.99 Twitter Blue service was meant to help that. The fact that it’s already been pulled – be it temporarily or permanently just a few days into it, doesn’t bode well to outside observers (or advertisers).
TWITTER BLUE VERIFICATION HAS BEEN A DISASTER
Essentially, Elon opened the floodgates to anyone and everyone that wanted to sign up for a blue checkmark.
Previously – that checkmark, although not 100% reliable all the time, was a good barometer to determine which accounts were real, as well as gave a legitimate indication that the news they tweeted was for the most part reliable.
That has all gone to hell now.
Just yesterday, a fake but still BLUE CHECK VERIFIED (under the premium $7.99 subscription service) Twitter account for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly offered free insulin to everyone!
The tweet generated more than 1,500 retweets and stayed up for several hours before the account was eventually blocked by Twitter. But the damage had already been done.
The real Eli Lilly Twitter account later issued an apology on those that were tricked by the impersonator account:
Only to then further be trolled by ANOTHER fake account that ALSO had the Twitter Blue verification badge. The new troll account added “Co” at the end, while disparaging and mocking the pharmaceutical companies’ cost of drugs.
TWITTER BLUE CHECKMARK TROLLS CAUSING HAVOC
For someone like Elon who wanted to combat “Fake news,” he just made it a million times more difficult to police it on the platform. Which is why Twitter Blue was suspended, so they can try and fix their errors.
There have been countless examples of Twitter Blue verified troll accounts. Some came across as parody and were easy to detect, while others disrupted the media world, especially in sports.
A slew of fake ESPN Analyst Adam Schefter verified accounts were created in recent days, causing a running joke across the platform questioning the veracity of reports.
A verified troll account changed LeBron James’ official account from “s” to “z” and said he was asking for a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers:
Meanwhile, someone impersonating New York Yankees free agent pitcher Aroldis Chapman, changed the lowercase “L” to a capital “i” and sent Yankees fans into a frenzy:
TWITTER BLUE HAS MADE IT DIFFICULT TO KNOW WHAT’S REAL
For the seasoned social media user, it’s easier to sniff out the troll accounts.
But in the second-by-second media-driven world that we live in, if an on-air broadcaster saw an Adam Schefter blue checkmark tweet, they would immediately go on the air with what it said. Or retweet it. Or text their friends about the breaking news. Now, that process has stalled immensely.
We all agree that the bots and spam accounts have been a major issue with the social media platform. But it appears that Elon – who doesn’t have too much experience in the technological world, may have jumped the gun a little too quickly.
Musk was like one of his SpaceX rockets, only it landed head first into Mars.
MUSK IS GETTING ATTACKED FROM EVERYWHERE
Before Musk’s Twitter purchase, the platform had become a cesspool of just chaos, not to mention shadow-banning certain accounts and algorithm madness that led to immense criticism. Musk sure as hell isn’t perfect, but in some instances he has been unfairly criticized by those that feel threatened by him.
This past week, President Biden made headlines insinuating that Musk’s “cooperation and technical relationships with other countries, is worthy of being looked at.”
WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF TWITTER?
Many forces are against Musk right now and want him to fail. It’s important to weed those out when reading reports or hearing rumors. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that the average Twitter user and reporter doesn’t know.
It’s going to be difficult, but I do think Elon figures this out and is able to turn it around.
Has some damage been done? Absolutely. But if people aren’t able to adapt or realize the tremendous difficulty it is to take over one of the largest social media platforms, then I don’t think Musk really cares if they are the ones that leave.
A bigger issue to pay attention to will be the FTC’s potential investigation. Keep an eye out on that. With so much of the platform’s security team resigning, will Twitter be able to stay in compliance? If not, they could face hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.
It’s unclear what, if any measures the FTC may take. They could very well not get involved at all.
This past week, Musk told staffers that the company is losing $4 million a day. If the FTC comes after them, then it could be all bets off.
However, even if so many people do become frustrated with Twitter, there still remains the biggest question of all…
Where else can they go?