Musk intends to relaunch Twitter Premium Service.

6 mins read
Musk intends to relaunch Twitter Premium Service.
Musk intends to relaunch Twitter Premium Service.

Elon Musk said on Friday that Twitter will relaunch its premium service next week, offering various colored check marks to accounts, in a new attempt to modernize the service after a previous attempt failed.

It’s the latest shift to the social networking site that Musk, the billionaire Tesla CEO, purchased last month for $44 billion, and it comes a day after Musk claimed he would provide “amnesty” for suspended accounts, adding to users’ confusion.

Because of a wave of imposter accounts, Twitter previously suspended the premium service, which under Musk granted blue-check labels to anyone paying $8 per month. To prevent impersonation, the blue check was initially given to government entities, corporations, celebrities, and journalists who had been verified by the platform.

Companies will receive a gold check in the latest version, governments will receive a gray check, and individuals who pay for the service, whether or not they are celebrities, will receive a blue check, Musk said Friday.

“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before the check activates,” he explained, calling it “painful but necessary” and promising a “longer explanation” next week. He stated that the service would “tentatively launch” on December 2.

Twitter suspended the revamped premium service just days after it launched earlier this month, citing impersonation of companies such as pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, and even Musk’s own businesses Tesla and SpaceX, as well as various professional sports and political figures.

It was just one alteration in the previous two days. Musk announced on Thursday that he would offer “amnesty” to blocked accounts in response to the results of an online poll he conducted on whether users that had not “broken the law or participated in egregious spam” should be reinstated.

The yes vote received 72% of the vote. Such internet surveys are far from scientific and are readily manipulated by bots. Musk also used one before reactivating the account of former US President Donald Trump.

“The populace has spoken. The amnesty period begins next week. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted Thursday, referring to the Latin phrase that means “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”

The move is likely to put the company on a crash course with European regulators seeking to clamp down on harmful online content with tough new rules, which helped cement Europe’s reputation as the global leader in efforts to rein in the power of social media companies and other digital platforms.

Zach Meyers, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform think tank, said giving blanket amnesty based on an online poll is an “arbitrary approach” that’s “hard to reconcile with the Digital Services Act,” a new EU law that will start applying to the biggest online platforms by mid-2023.

The law is aimed at protecting internet users from illegal content and reducing the spread of harmful but legal content. It requires big social media platforms to be “diligent and objective” in enforcing restrictions, which must be spelled out clearly in the fine print for users when signing up, Meyers said.

Britain also is working on its own online safety law.

“Unless Musk quickly moves from a ‘move fast and break things’ approach to a more sober management style, he will be on a collision course with Brussels and London regulators,” Meyers said.

European Union officials took to social media to highlight their worries. The 27-nation bloc’s executive Commission published a report Thursday that found Twitter took longer to review hateful content and removed less of it this year compared with 2021.

The report was based on data collected over the spring — before Musk acquired Twitter — as part of an annual evaluation of online platforms’ compliance with the bloc’s voluntary code of conduct on disinformation. It found that Twitter assessed just over half of the notifications it received about illegal hate speech within 24 hours, down from 82% in 2021.

The numbers may yet worsen. Since taking over, Musk has l aid off half the company’s 7,500-person workforce along with an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation. Many others have resigned, including the company’s head of trust and safety.

Recent layoffs at Twitter and results of the EU’s review “are a source of concern,” the bloc’s commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders tweeted Thursday evening after meeting with Twitter executives at the company’s European headquarters in Dublin.

In the meeting, Reynders said he “underlined that we expect Twitter to deliver on their voluntary commitments and comply with EU rules,” including the Digital Services Act and the bloc’s strict privacy regulations known as General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

Another EU commissioner, Vera Jourova, tweeted Thursday evening that she was concerned about news reports that a “vast amount” of Twitter’s European staff were fired.

“If you want to effectively detect and take action against #disinformation & propaganda, this requires resources,” Jourova said. “Especially in the context of Russian disinformation warfare.”



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