Manaksha Memon looks at a service going complicated
Twitter Removes Blue Tick – Twitter is ringed by controversy and the problems of the company are increasing by the day. In the latest development Twitter began the mass removal of its blue ticks that were the symbol previously used to signify a verified account vanished from users including the Pope, Donald Trump and Justin Bieber. Owner Elon Musk, who has seen his $44 billion investment in the site shrivel, earlier pledged to get rid of what he described as a “lords & peasants system.” He offered instead to sell the blue badge to anyone who would pay $8 a month, in a move he said last year would “democratise journalism & empower the voice of the people.” Earlier dates set for the rollback of the ticks — predominately used by celebrities, journalists, and politicians — have slipped by without noticeable action. But last week high-profile accounts, as well as those of many reporters at AFP and other news organisations appeared to have had the checkmarks removed.
In Pakistan, Dawn.com, Geo News Urdu and other media organisations lost their verified status. A number of well-known anchors and reporters were also among them. In Pakistan politicians and official bodies also appeared to have been hit particularly popular accounts like PTI chairman Imran Khan’s, with 19.1m followers lost their blue tick though PTI’s official account, however, retained it. PMLN Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari were also among those who lost their verified status. Shehbaz Sharif, however, retained his status with a grey check — which is for accounts that are linked to government organisations.
These removals follow spats between Twitter and various news organisations that have objected to labels appended to their accounts indicating they were state-affiliated or government funded. Sweden’s public radio Sveriges Radio said it would stop tweeting following in the footsteps of US radio station NPR and Canadian broadcaster CBC. Elon Musk’s tumultuous ownership of Twitter has seen thousands of staff made redundant and advertisers fleeing the platform. Users complain that hate speech and misinformation has proliferated and accounts with extreme views are gaining traction due to less content moderation. This month, a closely watched forecast said Twitter’s income from advertising will fall by a large margin in 2023. Analysts said they were slashing an earlier worldwide revenue estimate of $4.74 billion by more than a third to $2.98 billion as trust deteriorates. 14 of the top 30 advertisers on Twitter stopped advertising on the platform since Musk took charge on last October and it was mentioned that Musk’s efforts to build up a subscription service will not make up for the lost ad revenue.
Moreover, Twitter has dropped “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” labels from media accounts and many major media outlets from Western nations, Russia, China and other countries that previously had either of those tags no longer displayed them. They included the accounts of National Public Radio in the United States, China’s official Xinhua news agency, RT from Russia, and Canada’s CBC. Twitter, acquired by the mercurial billionaire Elon Musk last year, had long labeled accounts linked to state media or government officials, especially from China and Russia. It said that policy focused on entities that are the official voice of the nation-state abroad. Recently, however, the labels were applied to news organisations that received public funding but were not controlled by any governments. Radio New Zealand also threatened to leave Twitter over the government-funded label.
The blue checkmark — previously free for verified accounts of politicians, famous personalities, journalists and other public figures — is now open to anyone prepared to pay. Elon Musk cited the need for revenue and tackling bots as the driving force behind Twitter’s shift to paid verification. Twitter re-launched its subscription service, Twitter Blue, in December 2022, which included an option for users to purchase a verified blue checkmark. On 24 March, the company extended this service worldwide. Google’s Android users will be able to purchase Twitter Blue’s monthly subscription for $11, the same price as for Apple’s iOS users. The higher pricing for Android users is likely to offset fees charged by Android’s Google Play Store, like Apple’s App Store. Musk is planning to roll out the micro blogging site’s verified service with different coloured checks for individuals, companies and governments, after a botched initial launch led to a surge in users impersonating celebrities and brands on the platform. The Weekender
Manaksha Memon is a social worker devoted to social causes