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REVERSAL: Twitter suspends pay-to-post “blue check” game until after midterm election

REVERSAL: Twitter suspends pay-to-post “blue check” game until after midterm election

REVERSAL: Twitter suspends pay-to-post "blue check" game until after midterm election

Twitter just announced that it won’t begin its “pay to play” verification platform until after Tuesday’s election amid a massive public backlash. The $7.99 subscription will open the doors for non-verified Twitter users to display the coveted blue checkmark on their profiles – earned or not.

The social media company announced on Saturday that the feature would be a part of Twitter Blue.

“Power to the people,” the announcement said. “Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.”

The announcement raised concerns that with just days to go until the midterms, some on the platform could use the status symbol to pedal misinformation about the election. These misgivings prompted Twitter to delay the rollout until November 9th – the day after the election.

The massive layoffs by the company of people in departments dedicated to content moderation and combatting lies surrounding past and future elections have only exacerbated users’ anxieties.

“Twitter had become one of America’s most influential platforms for spreading accurate voting information, and the days before elections have often been critical moments where company and campaign officials kept up a near-constant dialogue about potential risks,” The Washington Post commented.

According to The New York Times, “In an internal Slack channel on Saturday, one Twitter employee asked why the social network was ‘making such a risky change before elections, which has the potential of causing election interference.’”

Over 3,000 employees have been laid off since Tesla CEO Elon Musk took over the helm, including most of the verification team. Blue check marks allow the app’s users to differentiate journalists, celebrities, and other notable personalities from imposters on the site. With rampant misinformation and disinformation being disseminated across social media, the impending change has called into question the potential effects of bad actors.

Twitter has never been “profitable” from a traditional business standpoint, but in the week since Musk installed himself as Lord and savior of the company, advertisers have fled in droves after a rise in hate speech. Companies like General Motors, and Loreal have announced they are suspending ad spending until a clear path for Twitter’s direction is known.

Roughly 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising, according to a report by CBS.

High-profile celebrities like best-selling author Stephen King, have denounced paying for their well-earned and deserved blue checks. Even America’s sweetheart, Valerie Bertinelli, got in on the game, changing her profile name to Elon Musk in order to show the world’s richest man the implications of allowing anyone to buy their way into relevancy.

Bertinelli retweeted posts from Democratic candidates using Musk’s handle and one-upped Elon, the troll’s troll.

What will happen still remains to be seen. Not known for consistency, it’s not unthinkable that Musk will change his mind yet again. As the South African-born billionaire throws spaghetti at the wall,  Twitter’s 237 million users may not be there to clean it up.

Original reporting by Ryan Mac, Kate Conger, and Mike Isaac at The New York Times

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross
News journalist for Occupy Democrats.

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