Does Twitter’s new boss Elon Musk ever pause for breath? In the weeks since he took over at the helm of the social media company, there is only one constant: change, and at a pace that is hard to match.
After initially pledging to verify all human Twitter users, Musk then decided the “coveted” blue checkmark was open to anyone willing to fork out $8 a month. That caused more problems with impersonation than the original blue tick was supposed to solve.
After rolling out, shelving and re-rolling out “official” tags for some accounts, he has now decided there will be three different types of verification marks — gold check for companies, grey check for governments, and blue for individuals — requiring manual authentication.
That decision came hours after an amnesty for the platform’s suspended accounts. If you fell foul of Twitter’s moderation team over the past couple of years, you will be able to regain access to your account — assuming that you didn’t do anything illegal, spam people, or engage in Elon parody without making it expressly clear, of course.
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Teamed with the reactivation of former US president Donald Trump’s Twitter account, it has done little to quell concerns that Twitter is about to become a hellscape. Meanwhile, Musk gets to claim that Twitter usage is up, without any sort of context on the quality of engagement. Car crashes also attract their fair share of rubberneckers, but you would rather not be at the centre of it.
Musk appears to be making decisions on the future of Twitter off the back of polls run on his account. Given that he tried to cite a large bot problem as a reason for not sticking to his $44 billion agreement to buy the company, it seems somewhat short-sighted to declare such polls as the “voice of the people”.
Perhaps the Twitter boss should instead pay attention to the full quote he has been trotting out in recent days. “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit” which translates as “and those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness”.