Twitter drops media tags in latest changes

By Glenn CHAPMAN

Twitter has dropped “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” labels from media accounts after widespread complaints, according to a review Friday of many high-profile pages.

As Elon Musk’s platform rolls out a series of changes, it has also reportedly told businesses they must pay for blue verification ticks or “verified organization” checkmarks if they want to advertise on Twitter.

Advertisers spending at least $1,000 monthly will be spared from paying, according to a notice shared on Twitter, which is seeking to increase revenue.

Getting advertisers to pay subscriptions is part of a strategy “to elevate the quality of the content on Twitter and enhance your experience,” read the message to advertisers.

Musk’s long-promised move to strip free blue ticks from many Twitter users swung into action on Thursday.

Blue ticks were once a coveted symbol of authenticity, but can now be bought for $8 a month.

“(Musk) has absolutely made the blue tick a badge of shame,” read a tweet from the account of @vanbadham. “I see anyone with one and my judgement is instant and damning.”

Musk’s tumultuous ownership of Twitter has seen staffing slashed and advertisers fleeing the platform.

Users complain that hate speech and misinformation have proliferated, and accounts with extreme views are gaining traction due to less content moderation.

– Chaotic takeover –

Twitter, acquired by the mercurial billionaire last year, had long labeled accounts linked to state media or government officials, especially from China and Russia.

But recently the labels were applied to news organizations that received public funding but were not controlled by any governments.

National Public Radio in the United States stopped using Twitter, and Canada’s CBC followed suit.

On Friday many major media outlets from Western nations, Russia, China and other countries that had been tagged “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” no longer displayed the labels.

They included the accounts of NPR, China’s official Xinhua news agency, RT from Russia and CBC.

Musk has expressed disdain for news media for years and recently installed an automatic response of a poop emoji to emailed inquiries from journalists.

News organizations have struggled to wean themselves from Twitter, which remains a key communication exchange for celebrities, politicians and pundits.

Musk, whose chaotic takeover of Twitter has seen his $44 billion investment shrivel, earlier pledged to get rid of what he described as a “lords & peasants system,” in which journalists, celebrities and politicians were given the blue tick that verified their account.

Only a tiny fraction of those who had free, verified accounts have switched to paying subscriptions, a programmer who tracks the platform tweeted on Friday. — Agence France-Presse

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