Awash with fake accounts, Twitter shifted gears early Friday and quietly suspended its $8-a-month “Twitter Blue” account verification scheme while announcing it would add an “Official” label to some accounts — about 19 hours after it said such designations were not being handed out.
The conflicting announcements about the “official label” sat on top of each other as two tweets in the verified Twitter Support account feed Friday, prompting mockery across the social media platform, with commenters calling it “post-satire” and noting sarcastically the company should create a system for verifying accounts, like a check mark.
Oddly, while some users posted screenshots of the Twitter Support announcement with an “official” badge below the screen name, the tag was not visible to all users.
In addition, multiple users reported the new $8 subscription option for the blue verification check had disappeared, according to Reuters.
“Twitter seems to have unlaunched the new $7.99 Twitter Blue subscription,” posted app researcher Jane Manchun Wong. “Checked with Twitter’s API and the in-app purchase for Twitter Blue Verified is no longer listed for production.”
The site in recent days has seen a chaotic mix of parody accounts as it launched Twitter Blue in the second week after Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover. Among the most notable was a fake Tesla feed and one purporting to be former President George W. Bush that tweeted, “I miss killing Iraqis.”
Twitter Blue was intended to provide anyone who forked over $8 a month the “blue check” previously reserved for celebrities, politicians, journalists and accounts with very large followings, but the surge in fake accounts was head-spinning.
Late Thursday, Musk himself tweeted, “Going forward, accounts engaged in parody must include ‘parody’ in their name, not just in bio,” and added, “To be more precise, accounts doing parody impersonations. Basically, tricking people is not ok.”
The rapidfire policy reversal is the latest in a series of movies that have left Twitter users baffled and sent advertisers to the exits, with the revenue decline concerning enough that Musk told staffers in a meeting Thursday that bankruptcy is a possibility for the company, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Last week, Musk blamed “activists” for a “massive drop in revenue” caused by advertisers fleeing the site since his takeover. The social media activist coalition #StopToxicTwitter was happy to take the credit, and on Friday urged more companies to pull their ads from Twitter in response to Musk’s pullback on moderating intimidating and abusive posts.
The company has boasted about rising user numbers since Musk bought the company, but observers have reported a surge in hate speech on the site and some suspended accounts, like that of Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, have been reactivated.
Much of the content moderation team was among the half of Twitter’s staff that got the ax last week.
Adding to the chaos has been an exodus of top executives. Musk fired the former CEO, CFO and head of its legal department the day he took over. The content moderation head, chief information security officer, chief privacy officer and its chief compliance officer have all since departed, according to reports.
Twitter’s communications team was also eliminated, and the company could not be reached early Friday. Its “Twitter Comms” account has not posted since Oct. 31, when it retweeted a comment from Musk that “Twitter’s commitment to brand safety is unchanged.”