December 7, 2022

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Twitter briefly rolled out "official" gray checkmarks.  Then Elon Musk changed his mind

Twitter briefly rolled out “official” gray checkmarks. Then Elon Musk changed his mind

CNN Business

Instead, a new verification tag aimed at better acquaintance with prominent Twitter accounts has become the latest source of chaos in the company under new owner Elon Musk.

Just hours after the feature came out, Musk abruptly said Wednesday that he had “killed” a new gray verification badge designed to label government accounts, major brands and media outlets, fueling turmoil at one of the world’s most influential social media companies.

The new badge, consisting of a gray checkmark and the word “official” placed below the account handles for Twitter, the United Nations and media including CNN, was first introduced Tuesday night.

The feature was created to distinguish between “select” verified accounts and blue check marks that Twitter said it would soon offer to users paying for $8 a month, tweeted Esther Crawford, the company’s director of product management.

The new insignia began appearing early Wednesday morning. But late in the morning, users started noticing the badge was gone.

“I just killed her,” Musk tweeted in response to a tweet about the disappearances. Musk added: “Please note that Twitter is going to do a lot of stupid things in the coming months. We’ll keep what works and change what doesn’t.”

Minutes later, Crawford was forced to clarify what Musk meant.

“The official naming is still being issued as part of the TwitterBlue launch – we’re just focusing on government and commercial entities to start with,” Crawford wrote on Twitter. “What I’ve seen him mention is the fact that we’re not focused on giving individuals an ‘official’ label at the moment.”

Despite this, all accounts, including NASA, CNN and the United Nations, were stripped of their “official” designations by Wednesday afternoon, adding to the confusion.

The real-time experience highlights Musk’s improvisational management style, which he applied freely across the company in the first weeks of his ownership.

In recent days, Twitter and Musk have faced widespread criticism over the company’s plan to change the meaning of the blue check mark away from identifying confirmed individuals, especially public figures. Towards a new meaning indicating that the user has paid for Twitter BlueCompany subscription service.

Electoral security experts have warned that bad actors may pay for a blue check mark and then change their display names to impersonate government officials or other reliable sources of information.

After seeming to have the feature ready to run over the weekend, Twitter later decided to delay publishing until after the midterm, CNN previously reported. Also over the weekend, Musk vowed that accounts caught engaging in undisclosed identity theft would be permanently banned without warning, reversing earlier promises that so-called “permabans” would be extremely rare.

Twitter said Tuesday night that to resolve the uncertainty about which accounts on its platform have been verified — as opposed to those who pay $8 per month for a blue check mark on their profiles — the company will introduce the gray check mark as part of the “official” label.

Earlier screenshot Posted by Crawford showed how the new label would appear. The screenshot showed the private Twitter account profile, which included the standard blue check mark next to the display name as well as a gray check mark and the word “Official” below the account handle.

“Not all pre-verified accounts will receive an ‘official’ rating and the label is not available for purchase,” Crawford chirp Tuesday. “Accounts that will be received include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures.”

Crawford also confirmed that the next option to pay for the blue check mark will not include an identity verification requirement.

Crawford: “We will continue to experiment with ways to distinguish between account types” He said.

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