Elon Musk’s Twitter is dropping government-funded media labels

Twitter has removed labels describing global media organizations as government-funded or state-affiliated, a move that comes after the Elon Musk-owned platform began stripping blue checkmarks. From accounts that do not pay a monthly fee.

Among those no longer being labeled was National Public Radio in the US, which announced last week that it would stop using Twitter. After its main account was designated as state media, a term also used to designate media controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China.

Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media,” but NPR — which relies on the government for a fraction of its funding — said it was still misleading.

Canadian Broadcasting Company. and Swedish Public Broadcasting They made similar decisions to quit Twitter. The government-funded CBC brand disappeared on Friday, along with state-affiliated tags on media accounts including Sputnik and RT in Russia and Xinhua in China.

Several prominent Twitter users on Thursday lost their blue checks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from scammers.

Twitter had about 300,000 users verified under the original blue check system — many of them journalists, athletes and public figures. The checks meant the account was verified by Twitter to be who it says it is.

Notable users who lost their blue checks on Thursday included Beyonce, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey and former President Donald Trump.

Tag retention costs range from $8 per month for individual web users to a starting price of $1,000 per month for an enterprise check, plus $50 per month for each affiliate or employee account. Twitter does not verify individual accounts, as was the case with the previous blue check cashed during the platform’s administration before Musk.

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celebrity usersfrom basketball star LeBron James to author Stephen King and Star Trek’s William Shatner, declined to join — even though on Thursday, all three had blue checks indicating that the account had paid for verification.

The king, for example, said that he did not pay.

“My Twitter says I signed up for Twitter Blue. I don’t have it. My Twitter says I gave a phone number. You know,” King tweeted on Thursday.

In a response to King’s tweet, Musk said, “You’re welcome, Namaste,” and in another tweet, he said he’s “paying for a little personally.” He later tweeted that he was only paying for King, Shatner, and James.

Singer Dionne Warwick tweeted earlier in the week that the site verification system is “an absolute mess”.

“The way Twitter treats anyone could be me now,” Warwick said. She had earlier vowed not to pay for Twitter Blue, saying the monthly fee “could (and will) go toward my extra hot latte.”

On Thursday, Warwick lost its blue check (which is actually a white checkmark in a blue background).

For users who still have a blue check on Thursday, a pop-up says the account is “verified because they’re subscribed to Twitter Blue and have verified their phone number.” Phone number verification simply means that the person has a phone number and they have verified that they have access to it – it does not confirm the person’s identity.

Celebrities and journalists weren’t the only ones who lost their blue checks on Thursday. Numerous government agencies, nonprofits, and public service accounts around the world have found it is no longer pinned, raising concerns that Twitter could lose its status as the platform for getting accurate, up-to-date information from trusted sources, including in emergencies.

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While Twitter offers gold checks to “verified organizations” and gray checks to government organizations and their affiliates, it’s not clear how the platform distributes these checks.

The official New York City government Twitter account, which it once had with a blue check, tweeted Thursday that “This is a real Twitter account representing the New York City government. This is the only @NYCGov account operated by the New York City government” in an effort to clear up the confusion.

A newly created parody account with 36 followers (also without a blue tick), disagreed: “No, you’re not. This account is the only authentic Twitter account represented and operated by the New York City government.”

Another satirical account – purporting to be Pope Francis – was quickly evaluated: “By the authority vested in me, Pope Francis, I declare @NYC_GOVERNMENT the official government of New York City. Peace be with you.”

Less than 5% of verified older accounts appeared to have paid to join Twitter Blue as of Thursday, according to an analysis by Travis Brown, a Berlin-based software developer for social media tracking.

Musk’s move angered some high-profile users and infuriated some right-wing figures and Musk fans who thought the labels were unfair. But it’s not a clear money maker for the social media platform that has long relied on advertising for most of its revenue.

Digital intelligence platform Likeweb analyzed how many people signed up for Twitter Blue on their desktop computers and discovered only 116,000 confirmed subscriptions last month, for which $8 or $11 a month isn’t a major source of revenue. The analysis did not account for accounts purchased via mobile apps.

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After buying San Francisco-based Twitter for $44 billion in October, Musk has been trying to boost the platform’s flagging revenue by getting more people to pay a premium subscription fee. But his move also reflects his assertion that blue check marks have become an undeserved or “corrupt” symbol for elite figures, news reporters and others who were given verification for free by Twitter’s previous leadership.

Twitter started tagging profiles with a blue check mark about 14 years ago. Besides protecting celebrities from impersonation, one of the main reasons was to provide an additional tool to reduce misinformation coming from accounts impersonating people. Most of the “old blue checks,” including accounts of politicians, activists, and people who suddenly find themselves in the news, as well as little-known journalists at small publications around the world, aren’t household names.

One of Musk’s first product moves after taking over Twitter was to launch a service that gives out blue checks to anyone willing to pay $8 a month. But soon the scammers’ accounts flooded him, Including those impersonating Nintendo, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, Musk’s companies Tesla, and SpaceX, so Twitter had to temporarily suspend the service days after its launch.

Relaunched service It costs $8 per month for web users and $11 per month for iPhone or Android app users. Subscribers should see fewer ads, be able to post longer videos, and feature their tweets more prominently.


Associated Press technology writer Matt O’Brien contributed to this report.

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