Twitter says it will only promote Blue subscription users on ‘For You’ feed, after axing verification for non-paying individuals
Twitter will only recommend posts made by subscribers to its paid Twitter Blue service starting on 15 April, owner Elon Musk has said.
Twitter users see posts made by users they follow and those recommended by the “For You” feed, which includes a mix of trending content.
Musk said the “For You” feed would include only content from Twitter Blue users going forward.
He said the move was “the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.”
He added that voting in polls would require paid verification for the same reason.
Paid verification significantly increases the cost of using bots and makes it easier to identify them, he said in an earlier post.
The move is a major shift away from Twitter’s previous method of recommending trending content regardless of its source.
It means the visibility of posts made by non-paying users will be drastically reduced.
Hey @elonmusk what’s this about blue checks going away unless we pay Twitter? I’ve been here for 15 years giving my ⏰ & witty thoughts all for bupkis. Now you’re telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free? What is this-the Colombia Records & Tape Club?🙄
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 26, 2023
At the same time, industry watchers have argued people spreading misinformation or otherwise harmful content can use the paid system to amplify their messages.
The BBC has found that Twitter Blue was being used as a platform by controversial groups such as the Taliban and its prominent supporters in Afghanistan.
Last week Musk said Twitter would begin removing the “legacy” non-paying verified accounts of individual celebrities starting on 1 April.
The move means high-profile individual accounts will only sport a “verified” badge if the account subscribes to Twitter Blue. Organisations were invited to sign up for a separate authentication programme.
Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.
The is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.
Voting in polls will require verification for same reason.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2023
‘Treating everyone equally’
Responding to a complaint by actor William Shatner, Musk wrote, “It’s more about treating everyone equally.”
“Now you’re telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free? What is this – the Colombia Records & Tape Club?” Shatner had written.
In October 2022, responding to an earlier report that Twitter was planning to charge for verification, writer Stephen King wrote, “They should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
At the time Musk told King that he was expanding Twitter Blue as a financial imperative, writing, “We need to pay the bills somehow!”
The verification system was initially introduced so that people could see whether an account that appeared to be that of a well-known individual or organisation was authentic.
But Musk, who bought Twitter last October, has called the previous system “corrupt and nonsensical”.