Twitter has launched a subscription service for $7.99 a month that includes a blue check now given only to verified accounts as new owner Elon Musk overhauls the platform’s verification system just ahead of midterm elections in the United States.
In an update to Apple iOS devices, Twitter on Saturday said users who “sign up now” can receive the blue check next to their names “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow”. So far, verified accounts do not appear to be losing their checks.
Anyone being able to get the blue check could lead to confusion and the rise of disinformation ahead of Tuesday’s elections if imposters decide to pay for the subscription and co-opt the names of politicians and election officials.
Along with widespread layoffs that began Friday, many fear the social platform that public agencies, election boards, police departments and news outlets use to keep people reliably informed could become lawless if content moderation and verification are chipped away.
The change represents the end of Twitter’s current verification system, which was launched in 2009 to prevent impersonations of high-profile accounts such as celebrities and politicians.
Before the overhaul, Twitter had about 423,000 verified accounts, many of them rank-and-file journalists from around the globe that the company verified regardless of how many followers they had.
Experts have raised grave concerns about upending the platform’s verification system that, while not perfect, has helped Twitter’s 238 million daily users determine whether the accounts they were getting information from were authentic.
Current verified accounts include celebrities, athletes, influencers and other high-profile public figures, along with government agencies and politicians worldwide, journalists and news outlets, activists, as well as businesses and brands.
Also on Saturday, UN human rights chief Volker Turk urged Musk to ensure respect for human rights is central to the social network, in an open letter.
“Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the harms associated with its platform and take steps to address them. Respect for our shared human rights should set the guardrails for the platform’s use and evolution. In short, I urge you to ensure human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership,” Turk wrote.