by Debra Heine
Twitter’s sole director Elon Musk announced on Tuesday that he will be charging verified accounts $8.00 a month to retain their blue checkmark status.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit,” he tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”
Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit.
Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2022
Musk explained in a separate tweet that the charge will help Twitter create “a revenue stream to reward content creators.”
The eclectic billionaire wrote that the perks of being verified will be:
– Priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam
– Ability to post long video & audio
– Half as many ads
In a subsequent tweet, he noted that he is also working with publishers on a “paywall bypass” for verified users.
Musk had originally floated the idea of charging verified users $20.00 a month, but that prompted a massive backlash among the bluechecks.
Liberal writer Stephen King, who was one of many Twitter verified users who weighed in on the proposal, didn’t mince words: “$20 a month to keep my blue check?” King tweeted to his 6.9 million followers. “F-ck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.” He followed up later by saying, “It ain’t the money, it’s the principle of the thing.”
Musk replied to King late Monday evening, saying, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
He also tweeted on Tuesday that “there will be a secondary tag below the name for someone who is a public figure, which is already the case for politicians.”
Upon taking control of Twitter Inc. on October 27, Elon Musk immediately axed several of its top executives, CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and policy head Vijaya Gadde, as well as Twitter’s general counsel Sean Edgett.
Musk also dissolved the company’s board of directors and pronounced himself “Chief Twit” of the social media giant.
According to Bloomberg, he has frozen employee access “to internal tools used for content moderation and other policy enforcement.” This development has sparked concerns among Democrats and their media allies that partisan Twitter staffers will no longer have the ability to censor what is deemed to be “misinformation” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Most people who work in Twitter’s Trust and Safety organization are currently unable to alter or penalize accounts that break rules around misleading information, offensive posts and hate speech, except for the most high-impact violations that would involve real-world harm, according to people familiar with the matter. Those posts were prioritized for manual enforcement, they said.
Bloomberg dolefully noted that prior to Musk’s takeover, employees were “on call to enforce Twitter’s policies during Brazil’s presidential election,” and although they “did get access to the internal tools on Sunday,” according to two sources, it was only in a limited capacity.
The company is still utilizing automated enforcement technology, and third-party contractors, according to one person, though the highest-profile violations are typically reviewed by Twitter employees.
Twitter staff use dashboards, known as agent tools, to carry out actions like banning or suspending an account that is deemed to have breached policy. Detection of policy breaches can either be flagged by other Twitter users or detected automatically, but taking action on them requires human input and access to the dashboard tools. Those tools have been suspended since last week, the people said.
According to the report, Musk is questioning a number of the policies, including Twitter’s general misinformation policy, which penalizes posts that include purported “falsehoods about topics like election outcomes and Covid-19.”
Musk wants the policy to be more specific, according to people familiar with the matter.
Musk has also asked the team to review Twitter’s hateful conduct policy, according to the people, specifically a section that says users can be penalized for “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
In both cases it is unclear if Musk wants the policies to be rewritten or the restrictions removed entirely.
Conservatives have long complained that Twitter’s rules around misleading information are unequally enforced, targeting mainly right-wing accounts for alleged misinformation regarding the vaccines, rigged elections, and Ukraine, while ignoring clear left-wing propaganda.
In perhaps the most infamous case, Twitter in October of 2020—just weeks before the general election—suspended the New York Post after it broke explosive news about the corrupt and scandalous content in Hunter Biden’s laptop. Twitter, and other social media platforms have a habit of censoring information that counters the official regime narrative, even if it’s true, or at least debatable.
Republicans are now asking Musk to turn over information related to Twitter’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., wrote in a letter that Twitter decided “to limit information that may have affected the 2020 election” when it suppressed news about the laptop, and said that he hoped Twitter’s new leadership would “correct” the “error” and “provide Americans with transparency.”
“Committee on Oversight and Reform Republicans are investigating the Biden family’s pattern of influence peddling to enrich themselves and President Biden’s involvement in these schemes,” Comer wrote to Musk in the letter dated Oct. 28. “As part of this investigation, Committee Republicans are reviewing the role Big Tech — including Twitter — played in supporting the Biden campaign in 2020 by suppressing certain stories implicating the Bidens.”
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