In a seven-page report offered to Elon Musk when he arrived, several Twitter employees told the new boss the risks of selling certified accounts.
For more than two weeks, Elon Musk has taken the helm of the social network Twitter. One of its first steps, subscribing to Twitter Blue for $8 a month and being guaranteed a “certified” badge, resulted in chaos on the platform, giving way to fake accounts and misinformation.
A new device that had greatly worried the Twitter teams before its implementation, as revealed by specialized American journalists Casey Newton and Zoë Schiffer. In a seven-page report they reviewed, Twitter’s “safety and trust” team had compiled a number of recommendations intended to guide Musk, and avoid the negative consequences of his plans for Twitter Blue. Among these recommendations, the direct sale of a “certified” badge was listed as a high-risk idea.
“The most determined fraudsters might agree to pay […] to more easily achieve their ends and take advantage of the amplification (given by the certification). […] Impersonation of executives, advertisers, brands or election candidates, or any other type of users with prominent profiles” is one of the main risks of this idea, the report says.
And this is precisely what happened in the time when the paid subscription was implemented. A particularly dense flood of fake accounts took over the platform for several days, going so far as to scare away a certain number of advertisers, but also certain users, who, for example, turned to the Mastodon platform.
Ditto for the removal of “certified” badges which had already been awarded free of charge so far. This idea, finally abandoned, was viewed with suspicion by the social network team. “Removing privileges and exceptions from verified profiles for free could cause misunderstanding and loss of confidence among these users”, or even encourage them to leave the platform for good. It is also thanks to the report written by this team that people already authenticated as “certified” were able to keep their badge for free.
After realizing the reality of the team’s warnings, Elon Musk finally decided on November 11 to pause paid subscriptions. Not without some collateral damage along the way.