He’s owned Twitter for a week, and how Elon Musk will transform the social network intrigues observers. One of the changes will concern the “certification” of accounts: a small blue sticker, crossed out with a white line, currently indicates that the account in question has been confirmed by the network as belonging to the or the one who claims to animate it.
Twitter, between paid certification and “second tag”
This rosette was awarded by Twitter to various personalities – artists, athletes, politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists… – according to criteria largely dependent on his goodwill. A now obsolete device, as the boss of SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink wrote on the platform he now owns:
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
“The system currently in place on Twitter of lords and peasants determining who has or does not have certification is bullshit. Power to the people! Certification for eight dollars a month”says Musk, who also specifies that the price of the subscription would be adjusted “by country, in proportion to purchasing power parity”. In addition, the South African-born entrepreneur, who spent $44 billion to buy the bird network, also specified that a “second tag” will highlight public figures.
In short, it is the advent of a two-speed certification that is announced on Twitter. A paradoxical way of making “Power to the people” ? Defenders of the system argue that this form of toll at the entrance to the network would skim the robots and spam that abound on the micro-blogging site. Last May, it was by taking up the question of fake accounts that Musk froze his takeover offer on Twitter: he estimated that there were at least 20% of them, while the former general manager, Parag Agrawal , said that the problem affects less than 5% of the number of users.
One of the reasons that @elonmusk wants to charge for the blue checkmark is to blowout all these bots, fake, and “keyboard warrior” accounts.
— حسن سجواني 🇦🇪 Hassan Sajwani (@HSajwanization) November 1, 2022
Pay to tweet, it’s already there
The paid subscription to Twitter is also not new. This function already exists under the name “Twitter Blue”. Only available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it costs $4.99 per month. Twitter Blue allows you to preview the network’s new features, and to have access to special features, such as the one that allows you to cancel your tweet 10 seconds after pressing the “tweet” button.
The Twitter Blue functionality should therefore be extended to the issue of certification. The appearance of an “edit” button is also expected. This would allow, at any time, to rewrite his tweet, which is currently impossible. This possibility of rewriting messages is not without posing practical and ethical problems: what about a message rewritten after it has lived its life on the network, even if it means changing its meaning?
We are not there yet, and far from it as the “Muskian” directives are floating, and also vary according to the “temperature readings” he takes on the network. On October 31, Musk had already lowered the certification price after an exchange with writer Stephen King: “20 dollars a month to keep my blue sticker? Shit, they should pay me for that. If it’s instituted, I’m closing shop like Enron”alluding to the bankruptcy of the energy giant, which in the United States has become a symbol of the wanderings of capitalism.
$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.
—Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 31, 2022
“We have to pay the bills!”, Musk had replied, drawing the $8 offer just as dryly. Will he be ready to descend further? In a recent survey, more than 80% of Twitter users said they would refuse to pay for account certification, and 10% said they would pay five dollars a month. At Twitter, the bidding is – still – open.