Elon Musk ditches new ‘official’ Twitter label and is then contradicted by his own staff | Science & Tech News

Elon Musk has been contradicted by one of his own members of staff after he said he had “killed” a new “official” label for certain Twitter accounts.

Just hours after the proposal became public, he hinted that it simply didn’t work.

The idea is to use the “official” tag to mark the accounts of government officials, media outlets, and other public figures once changes to the platform’s blue checkmarks come into force.

Mr Musk said the change – to be rolled out after the midterms – would give “power to the people”, allowing anyone to have the label, rather than only those in public-facing roles.

But when web video producer Marques Brownlee tweeted “it’s now gone”, Musk replied: “I just killed it.”

The world’s richest man added, a few minutes later: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works and change what doesn’t.”

However, Esther Crawford, who works on early stage products for Twitter, then tweeted: “The official label is still going out as part of the Twitter Blue launch – we are just focusing on government and commercial entities to begin with.

“What you saw him mention was the fact that we’re not focusing on giving individuals the “official” label right now.”

How the new 'Official' label will appear
How the new ‘Official’ label will appear

Later, speaking in an online “town square meeting”, Mr Musk said the “official” tag could turn into an “aesthetic nightmare”.

Nevertheless, getting lots of accounts verified is important, he added. He wants Twitter to be in the “business of truth”.

At present, creating a fake account is “extremely cheap”, Mr Musk said.

But, by charging $8 for a blue tick, he said the logistics of creating an army of bots will become much more difficult.

A state actor does not have “a million credit cards”, Mr Musk commented.

He also said he wanted Twitter to be “vigorous about Illuminating deception”, adding: “If an account is engaged in trickery, we will suspend it.”

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The social media site’s new owner has wasted little time in implementing his ideas, chiefly revamping the Twitter Blue subscription service and moving the recognisable ticks behind its monthly paywall.

Earlier, Ms Crawford said: “A lot of folks have asked about how you’ll be able to distinguish between @TwitterBlue subscribers with blue checkmarks and accounts that are verified as official, which is why we’re introducing the “official” label to select accounts when we launch.

“Not all previously verified accounts will get the “official” label, and the label is not available for purchase. Accounts that will receive it include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures.

“The new Twitter Blue does not include ID verification – it’s an opt-in, paid subscription that offers a blue checkmark and access to select features. We’ll continue to experiment with ways to differentiate between account types.”

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It's similar to how government accounts are already marked
It’s similar to how government accounts are already marked

What it means for verified accounts

Mr Musk had decried the existing verification scheme as a “lords and peasants system”.

Some observers suggested allowing anyone to become verified may help crack down on bots and fake accounts.

But news that the paid blue checkmarks will no longer reflect any form of ID verification puts paid to that idea.

It means more accounts could end up with two tags, both a blue tick if they pay and an official label if they fall under Twitter’s new criteria.

They will appear much as existing labels for government and state-affiliated accounts do now.

For example, Rishi Sunak’s account has a blue tick and a “United Kingdom government official” label.

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