With all the various changes happening at Twitter, it’s hard to tell right now what’s an actual systematic change, and what’s a mistake, as a side-effect of some other update.
But, at least right now, Twitter seems to have removed all of its labels on government and state-affiliated media accounts – you know, those labels that prompted NPR and PBS to announce that they’ll stop using Twitter entirely just last week?
It seems that now, Twitter chief Elon Musk has had a change of heart – while that also, apparently, applies to actual state media outlets, like Russia Today (RT) and China Xinghua News.
Which seems risky, and could lead to Twitter being used to spread propaganda, without appropriate checks and notifiers of such. But reportedly, Elon decided to remove all of these labels because his biographer told him to do so.
Yep, that’s where things are at. Yet as noted, it’s also hard to tell if this is a mistake, because Twitter has also removed its new gold checkmark from a heap of business accounts that it didn’t mean to as part of its legacy blue tick purge.
According to social media expert Matt Navarra, Twitter has contacted a range of brand accounts to let them know that their gold tick was removed by mistake, and that Twitter is referring to a Google doc to restore the checkmark to all eligible accounts.
Twitter’s also looking to add gold checkmarks to all accounts that spend within excess of $1,000 on ads each month – and in amongst all of this, it’s also dealing with a fresh round of impersonations, as official comms accounts lose their tick, and other users step in to take their place.
In other words, it’s all a bit of a mess, and no one knows, for sure, what exactly is happening.
But Elon seems pretty happy with the situation, regardless of the chaos.
Such a great day in so many ways
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2023
Musk had repeatedly noted that he was looking forward to removing legacy blue checkmarks, which he says were allocated via a corrupt and biased system under previous Twitter management. Somehow, the blue tick had moved from being a marker of confirmed identity to a status symbol, at least in the eyes of some, and Musk seemed to relish the idea that he would be able to knock the media establishment down a peg by taking away their perceived elite status.
Except, that’s not what the blue checkmark was for – but regardless, Musk seems defiant in his stance that all the ‘elites’ who once had blue ticks should just pay for it and stop whining, rather than concerning himself with misinterpretations and problems that could be caused by the change.
Is that sustainable, and will Twitter end up losing out as a result, as more celebrities look to stop posting, and more problems arise due to misinterpretation of communications?
It’s all part of the broader whirlwind that is Twitter 2.0, where things don’t always work, people aren’t always who they seem, and you now, apparently, need to pay for the privilege of being part of the global town square. However fractured it may be.
And no matter what, it could be hard for Twitter to walk these changes back, no matter how many problems they cause. The perceptual impacts alone would be significant – though Twitter has left the option open, with legacy blue checkmarks not deleted from the app, just hidden from view, at least for the time being.
How this course corrects, it’s impossible to say, but I imagine those at Twitter HQ are dealing with an escalating range of issues right now.
Will that force Elon to make another update? We’ll find out soon.