Kasturi stops Twitter’s coveted blue tick as fraudsters rage | Business and Economy News

Twitter Inc paused its newly announced blue tick subscription service on Friday as fake accounts exploded, and new owner Elon Musk brought back the “official” badge to some users of the social media platform.

The coveted blue checkmark was previously reserved for verified accounts of politicians, famous personalities, journalists and other public figures. But the subscription option, open to anyone willing to pay, was rolled out earlier this week to help Twitter boost revenue as Musk struggles to retain advertisers.

The flop-flop is part of a chaotic two weeks on Twitter since Musk completed his $44bn acquisition. Musk has fired almost half of Twitter’s workforce, removed the board and its senior executives, and increased the prospect of Twitter’s bankruptcy. The US Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday it was looking at Twitter with “deep concern”.

Some users reported on Friday that the new subscription option for the blue verification check mark had disappeared, while sources told Reuters that the offer had been dropped.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Fake accounts claiming to be big brands have appeared with blue checks since the new launch, including Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX, as well as Roblox, Nestle, pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin.

“To combat impersonation, we’ve added the ‘Official’ label to some accounts,” Twitter’s support account — which has an “official” tag — tweeted on Friday.

The label was initially introduced on Wednesday but was then “killed” by Musk just hours later.

Druggist Eli Lilly and Co issued an apology after a fake account tweeted that insulin would be free, amid political attacks and scrutiny of high drug prices.

“We apologize to those who have been served misleading messages from the fake Lilly account,” the company said, repeating the name of its Twitter handle.

Several misleading tweets about Tesla from verified accounts with profile pictures identical to the company’s official account were also circulated on the platform.

“Twitter has, over the last few years, worked to try to improve that [misinformation]. And it looks like Elon Musk has dismantled it in a few weeks,” said AJ Bauer, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Musk has said that Twitter users who engage in impersonation without clearly declaring it as a “parody” account will be permanently suspended without warning. Several fake brand accounts, including Nintendo and BP, have been suspended.

On Thursday, in the company’s first email, Musk warned that Twitter will not be able to “survive the coming economic downturn” if it fails to boost subscription revenue to offset declining advertising revenue, three people who saw the message told Reuters.

‘Who buys you in a hurry’

Many companies, including General Motors and United Airlines, have paused or pulled back from advertising on the platform since Musk took over. In response, the billionaire said Wednesday he was trying to make Twitter a force for truth and stop fake accounts.

Twitter is heavily dependent on advertising, and about 90 percent of its revenue comes from advertisers. But every change Musk rolls out — or rolls back — makes the site less attractive to big brands.

“It became chaos,” said Richard Levick, CEO of Levick’s public relations firm. “Who bought the chaos?”

A bigger problem for Musk may be the risk to his reputation as a model technology executive since the rollout of various types of verification and other changes has failed, Levick added.

“It’s another example of something not being thought through very well, and that’s what happens when you’re in a rush,” Levick said. “Kasturi has been known as a trusted visionary and magician. He can’t lose that moniker, and that’s what’s dangerous now.

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