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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Adrien Fillon
# Twitter
Elon Musk 'kills' new Twitter label mere hours after launch
Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden has said that Elon Musk’s ties with foreign countries were ‘worthy’ of scrutiny.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 10th 2022, 9:52 AM

TWITTER LAUNCHED Two new verification tools yesterday but “killed” one of them hours later.

It’s the latest development in what’s been a messy start to owner Elon Musk’s campaign to revamp the influential platform following his $44 billion (€43.98 billion) buyout.

The social media platform unveiled its long-awaited Twitter Blue subscription service, which allows users to pay $7.99 per month for a coveted blue tick, as well as a separate grey “official” badge for some high-profile accounts.

But the new grey label was almost immediately scrapped, overshadowing the launch of Twitter Blue, which is currently only available on the mobile app on iPhones and in the United States.

“I just killed it,” Musk tweeted hours after the new tag was added to government accounts, big companies and major media outlets.

“Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t,” the world’s richest man added.

The u-turn invited further scrutiny of Musk’s plans for Twitter a week after he laid off thousands of workers and drew a massive drop in spending by advertisers, who are wary of the site’s direction.

The blue tick has been a mark of an account’s authenticity and doubts emerged that public figures or media outlets would pay for it. The official grey tag was seen by observers as a workaround to solve that problem.

The launch of the new official label began yesterday and was on the accounts of companies such as Apple and BMW, as well as public ones such as the White House.

It was also on several Irish media outlets.

But only hours later, it was gone for many of them.

‘A lot of work’

Esther Crawford, an executive who announced the grey tick on Tuesday, insisted that the official label was still going to be part of the relaunch, but that “we are just focusing on government and commercial entities to begin with.”

“There are no sacred cows in product at Twitter anymore. Elon is willing to try lots of things — many will fail, some will succeed,” she tweeted Wednesday.

“The goal is to find the right mix of successful changes to ensure the long-term health and growth of the business.”

During a panel for advertisers broadcast on Twitter, Musk exercised some damage control, admitting that a lot of work lay ahead to get the site to the place he wished to reach.

“We’ve got a lot to do on the software side. I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said.

Musk took control of Twitter after a drawn-out legal battle in which the mercurial tycoon tried to renege on a deal that many believe he overpaid for.

It emerged on Tuesday that Musk sold $4 billion worth of shares in Tesla to help pay for a transaction in which he took on billions of dollars in debt.

Twitter Blue is seen as one way to overcome the loss in advertisers since Musk took over.

Twitter last week fired half of its 7,500 employees, which Musk said was necessary as the company was losing $4 million a day.

Saudi stake

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden last night said that Elon Musk’s ties with foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.

It comes amid questions over the Saudi acquisition of a stake in Twitter as part of the tycoon’s blockbuster takeover.

“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden said last night, answering a question from a reporter after a long pause.

“Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that… That’s all I’ll say,” he said.

Last month reports emerged that the Biden administration was weighing a national security review of Musk’s takeover of Twitter, in part because of a key group of investors backing the buyout.

The investors include Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Two US Senators have called for a vetting of the Twitter deal in order to prevent the platform from accessing user information that could endanger human rights activists and critics of the Saudi government.

“We should be concerned that the Saudis, who have a clear interest in repressing political speech and impacting US politics, are now the second-largest owner of a major social media platform,” said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Musk has also struck what’s seen as a favourable public posture towards Vladimir Putin despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — notably by echoing the Russian president’s talking points on the conflict.

And he has raised eyebrows by suggesting the self-ruled island of Taiwan should become part of China — a stance welcomed by Chinese officials but which deeply angered Taiwanese officials.

Critics point to the industrial ties linking Musk to China, which has increasingly fraught ties with Washington.

The tycoon’s Tesla electric auto company has ramped up production to record levels at its Chinese factory in Shanghai.

© AFP 2022 

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