Removed free verification checkmarks from Twitter
Elon Musk has put into action his announcement to remove free verification checkmarks that confirm the identity of celebrities, companies and organizations. With few exceptions, only profiles that pay for them have had such checkmarks since recently.
Musk criticizes corrupt system
Already in the context of the purchase of Twitter, Musk had complained about the practice of awarding verifications. He saw it as a corrupt system in which Twitter employees arbitrarily distributed the popular checkmarks. In fact, the practice was that celebrities, companies and organizations above a certain reach or notoriety could enjoy the checkmarks for free to make any frauds less likely.
Musk has now swapped the system of free verifications for a payment system where it’s not notoriety but willingness to pay that determines who gets the checkmarks. Those who don’t have the Twitter subscription don’t stand a chance of getting the checkmarks – actually.
Musk arbitrarily awards free verification checkmarks
Musk, in fact, has decided to arbitrarily continue awarding free verification ticks to some celebrities. Among those affected are LeBron James, Stephen King, William Shatner, Rihanna and Taylor Swift. LeBron James and Stephen King had previously publicly stated they would reject the new model. King has further indicated he is not a subscription customer and will not pay for the check mark that remains. Musk replied to him, “You’re welcome.”
The Twitter owner has publicly announced that he will personally cover the subscription costs for some profiles he selects. He selects the beneficiary profiles at his own discretion – without any controlling authority. Against the backdrop of criticism of the allegedly corrupt previous system, this seems highly questionable. Musk’s arbitrary decisions have already become apparent on Twitter, for example when he had journalists blocked who reported critically on him.
Incidents with fake accounts
Shortly after the removal of the free verification checkmarks, the first incidents with fake accounts occurred. For example, the Twitter profile @NYC_Government was launched, pretending to be the official representation of the New York City government, which actually tweets under @nycgov. A profile pretending to be that of author J.K. Rowling also surfaced. Both profiles have since been blocked. In the future, users will have to rely on Twitter employees to track down and block fake profiles quickly enough – media literacy will also be in greater demand from now on.
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