Twitter is reportedly holding off launching its revamped US$8 per month subscription service, Twitter Blue, until after the US midterm elections.
While an in-app update suggested that the social network began testing the new features on Saturday, the company had planned to roll out the new changes today.
In fact, new CEO Elon Musk seemed so desperate to make the changes quickly, he compelled staff to work 12-hour days before laying off 3,700 employees.
However, the New York Times reported that the plans have now been put on hold until tomorrow when the US midterm polls close. While the change to the verified subscription model was part of Musk’s plan to limit disinformation and bots on the site, rolling out the changes now would have had the opposite result — with anyone able to create a new account and impersonate political figures or news outlets, replete with the blue tick, to fool unsuspecting users.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment by NYT.
There are already a host of accounts impersonating Musk on Twitter and some have been suspended by the platform.
While Musk seems to believe that his Twitter verification initiative will be the saviour of free speech online, the platform continues to lose money hand-over-fist. The Tesla CEO claimed that advertisers had pulled their spend from Twitter following changes to its content moderation team.
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
However, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, tweeted that there had been a 15 per cut in his department’s headcount and that around 20 per cent of the company’s incoming content moderation volume had declined.
In the days following Musk’s takeover, there was a surge in hate speech and slur usage on the platform. N-word usage, for example, increased five-fold.
Update 7/11: Despite Musk’s assertion that redundancies were the best thing for Twitter, he seems to have been slightly overzealous. According to New York Times podcast co-host Casey Newton, the company has started to ask some now-jobless employees to come back.
From Twitter Slack: “sorry to @- everybody on the weekend but I wanted to pass along that we have the opportunity to ask folks that were left off if they will come back. I need to put together names and rationales by 4PM PST Sunday.
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) November 6, 2022
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