Earlier this month, Elon Musk announced a controversial change to Twitter's verification checkmark. According to reporting from The New York Times, the change will not take place until after Election Day in the U.S. on Tuesday. The decision was apparently made a day after Twitter officially announced the changes to the current system. The New York Times learned of the decision through an internal post from Twitter, as well as information from "two people with knowledge of the decision." The change will allow any person to become verified on Twitter as part of a monthly Twitter Blue subscription, which will cost $8/month.
The proposed change has drawn widespread criticism from prominent Twitter users, including authors like Stephen King and Dan Slott, actors like Vincent D'Onofrio, and politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While Musk clearly sees verification as a status symbol worth paying for, many have pointed that the new system would make it too easy for users to impersonate them. Verification has always been envisioned as a way to prove to new Twitter users that the person is who they say they are; under Musk's system, anyone could easily get verification and then impersonate someone unwilling to spend nearly $100 a year on a function that used to be free. While Musk has threatened to suspend impersonators, the company now has significantly fewer employees to monitor this type of thing.
At the end of the day, Twitter's users are its biggest draw for advertisers. Big name actors, journalists, and politicians are the reason Twitter grew so large in the first place; many have even claimed that Twitter should be paying these creators, just as companies like YouTube and Twitch do. These big accounts draw in users, while simultaneously convincing advertisers that the company is worth investing in. However, Musk's recent actions have convinced a number of companies to actually pull advertising from the site, and verified users deciding to leave Twitter will only exacerbate that.
It's impossible to say whether Musk will back down from the proposed verification changes, but verified users are already changing their Twitter handles and avatars to impersonate Musk himself. Comedian Kathy Griffin did just that today, resulting in her suspension. Between the company's mass lay offs and verification changes, Musk seems desperate to recoup the $44 billion he spent buying Twitter. But with so much opposition to these changes and the loss of advertisers, the future of the social media platform is looking pretty bleak.
Widespread verification will democratize journalism & empower the voice of the people— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2022
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