LONDON (AP) — Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different coloured check marks to accounts next week, in a fresh move to revamp the service after a previous attempt backfired.
It's the latest change to the social media platform that the billionaire Tesla CEO bought last month for $44 billion, coming a day after Musk said he would grant "amnesty" for suspended accounts and causing yet more uncertainty for users.
Twitter previously suspended the premium service, which under Musk granted blue-check labels to anyone paying $8 a month, because of a wave of imposter accounts. Originally, the blue check was given to government entities, corporations, celebrities and journalists verified by the platform to prevent impersonation.
In the latest version, companies will get a gold check, governments will get a gray check, and individuals who pay for the service, whether or not they're celebrities, will get a blue check, Musk said Friday.
"All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates," he said, adding it was "Painful, but necessary" and promising a "longer explanation" next week. He said the service was "tentatively launching" December 2.
Twitter had put the revamped premium service on hold days after its launch earlier this month after accounts impersonated companies including pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, and even Musk's own businesses Tesla and SpaceX, along with various professional sports and political figures.
It was just one change in the past two days. On Thursday, Musk said he would grant "amnesty" for suspended accounts, following the results of an online poll he conducted on whether accounts that have not "broken the law or engaged in egregious spam" should be reinstated.
The yes vote was 72 per cent. Such online polls are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots. Musk also used one before restoring former US President Donald Trump's account.
"The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei," Musk tweeted Thursday using a Latin phrase meaning "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.