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Twitter exec explains 3 types of accounts: official, paid, unlabeled

Twitter Product manager Esther Crawford on Tuesday revealed details about how the social network’s new verification system works, following the company’s acquisition by You’re here and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in late October.

Some initially verified accounts will soon sport an “official” label, she said, while any user who pays $7.99 a month for Twitter Blue, the company’s subscription product, will sport a blue check mark. She did not specify what it will take to achieve “official” status.

Musk, who is currently CEO and sole director of Twitter, criticized Twitter’s quirky verification system, which gives a blue tick, or verification, to notable users likely to be imitated by bad actors.

Blue checks were originally used to verify the identity of government officials, politicians, celebrities, certain journalists, executives, medical professionals and organizations whose identity the company verified. Musk himself benefited from the Twitter verification tick. The same goes for a myriad of reporters, including at CNBC.

Historically, the blue checkmark let other Twitter users know that a social network account and its content came from the person or organization listed on that Twitter profile. At least some users whose accounts bore the verification mark had to provide the platform with personal information such as employer information, a phone number or a copy of their driver’s license for identity verification.

Other social networks like Meta‘s Facebook and Instagram, have similar verification systems.

Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter’s new blue checkmark will function more like a paid subscriber badge that the company nevertheless plans to call “verification.” The subscription service has become a major focus for Musk, who wants the platform to become less dependent on advertisers and generate more revenue from subscriptions.

Crawford specified Tuesday that subscribing to Twitter Blue and getting the company checkmark will no longer require identity verification, writing:

“Many people have asked how you will be able to distinguish between @TwitterBlue subscribers with blue checkmarks and verified accounts as official, which is why we’re introducing the ‘Official’ label to select accounts when we launch.”

“The new Twitter Blue does not include identity verification – it’s a paid subscription that offers a blue tick and access to certain features. We will continue to experiment with ways to differentiate between account types.”

“Not all previously verified accounts will get the ‘Official’ label and the label is not available for purchase. Accounts that will receive it include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media, publishers and certain public figures,” she wrote. .

Crawford, director of product management at Twitter, joined the social media company when it acquired its startup, Squad, in December 2020. Since Musk took over, she’s become Twitter’s chief product officer. Blue. The team experienced a significant downsizing last week, which affected its ability to ship a redesigned verification system by the Nov. 7 date that Musk originally set as a sprint goal. The Crawford team is now trying to rehire some of the employees who received layoff notices.

Musk’s plans for the new “verification” system have drawn a lot of criticism.

Comedians, influencers and actors, including Valerie Bertinelli, Kathy Griffin, Ethan Klein, Sarah Silverman and Rich Sommer, all appeared to change their Twitter display names on their verified profiles to “Elon Musk” without indicating they were parodying his account.

A technologist and USC Annenberg Civic Media Fellow, Sydette Harry, told CNBC ahead of Twitter Blue’s relaunch that the company had problems countering harassment, hate speech, misinformation and impersonation long before. that the CEO of Tesla does not take over. For example, the company never succeeded in effectively protecting black and other minority users, especially those who weren’t blue-checked celebrities or public figures.

She added, of the new verification system, “This new method is going to be theatrically wrong, because once people pay for verification, it takes the problem out of a community moderation issue, which can be expected on a free or ad-supported service for a customer service issue.”

She also said she was concerned that Musk seemed to be focused on US users, despite the service’s large international customer base.