Twitter on Friday suspended its recently announced $8 blue check service as fake accounts mushroomed and new owner Elon Musk returned the “official” badge to some users of the social media platform.
The coveted blue tick was previously reserved for verified accounts of politicians, celebrities, journalists and other public figures. But the subscription option, open to anyone willing to pay, was launched earlier this week to help Twitter boost revenue as Musk battles to retain advertisers.
The flip-flop is part of a chaotic two weeks on Twitter since Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of the US. Musk fired nearly half of Twitter’s employees, dismissed its board and senior executives, and raised the prospect of Twitter bankruptcy. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it was watching Twitter with “deep concern.”
Several users reported on Friday that the new subscription option for the blue verification mark had disappeared, while a source told Reuters the offer had been cancelled.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Fake accounts from several big brands have appeared with the blue tick, including Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX, as well as Roblox, Nestlé and Lockheed Martin.
To prevent impersonation, we added an “Official” label to some accounts.
“To combat impersonation, we’ve added the ‘Official’ label to some accounts,” the support account said on Twitter on Friday.
On Wednesday, Musk said on Twitter that he “killed” the new label just hours after its launch.
Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co has issued an apology after a fraudulent account tweeted that insulin would be free, amid political backlash and scrutiny of the drug’s high prices.
“We apologize to those who received a misleading message from the fake Lilly account,” the company said, repeating the name of its Twitter account.
“Twitter has been trying to improve that over the last few years [misinformation]. And Elon Musk seems to have cracked it in a matter of weeks,” said AJ Bauer, a professor at the University of Alabama.
In Canada, users received an error message noting that Twitter Blue would not be available in the country in the future.
Musk raised fears of bankruptcy
Musk said Sunday that Twitter users who engage in impersonation without clearly identifying it as a “parody” account will be permanently suspended without warning.
While some said it was a parody account in their description, several other fake brand accounts, including the Nintendo and BP accounts, have been suspended.
On Thursday, Musk raised the possibility of the social media platform going bankrupt.
The billionaire said in his first conference call with employees that he could not rule out bankruptcy, Bloomberg News reported, two weeks after he bought the platform for $44 billion — a deal that credit experts said left Twitter’s finances in limbo.
Earlier, in his first company-wide email, Musk warned that Twitter would not be able to “survive the coming economic downturn” if it failed to increase subscription revenue and offset declining advertising revenue, three people who saw the report said. Reuters.
In his first meeting with many employees on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, Musk warned that the company could lose billions of dollars next year, the Information reported.
Musk added in an email to workers that telecommuting would no longer be allowed and that they would be expected to be in the office for at least 40 hours a week.
Musk ruthlessly moved to clean house after taking over on October 27, saying the company was losing more than $4 million a day, largely because advertisers began fleeing once he took over. Twitter has $13 billion in debt after the deal and faces interest payments totaling nearly $1.2 billion over the next 12 months. The payments top Twitter’s last reported cash flow of $1.1 billion at the end of June.
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