FILE - The Twitter logo is seen on a mobile phone, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. Social media platforms...

Musk plans to relaunch Twitter’s premium service again

LONDON (AP) — Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored tick marks to accounts next week, in a new move to revamp the service after a previous attempt backfired. .

It’s the latest change to the social media platform the billionaire Tesla CEO bought last month for $44 billion, a day after Musk announced he would grant ‘amnesty’ to suspended accounts. and would cause even more uncertainty for users.

Twitter previously suspended the premium service, which under Musk gave blue tags to anyone paying $8 a month, due to a surge in impostor accounts. Originally, the blue check was given to government entities, businesses, celebrities, and journalists verified by the platform to prevent identity theft.

In the latest version, companies will get a gold check, governments will get a gray check and people who pay for the service, whether or not they are celebrities, will get a blue check, Musk said on Friday.

“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before verification is enabled,” he said, adding that it was “painful, but necessary” and promising a “longer explanation” next week. He said the service was “tentatively launching” on December 2.

Twitter had suspended the revamped premium service days after it launched earlier this month after accounts impersonated companies including pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., Nintendo, Lockheed Martin and even Musk’s own businesses. Tesla and SpaceX, as well as various professional sports and political activities. The figures.

It was just a change in the last two days. On Thursday, Musk said he would grant “amnesty” to suspended accounts, following the results of an online poll he conducted to find out whether accounts that have not “broken the law or delivered to blatant spam” should be reinstated.

The yes was 72%. Such online surveys are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots. Musk also used one before restoring former US President Donald Trump’s account.

“The people have spoken. The amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted Thursday, using a Latin phrase meaning “voice of the people, voice of God.”

The move is likely to put the company in an accelerated race as European regulators seek to crack down on harmful online content with tough new rules, which has helped cement Europe’s reputation as a global leader in efforts aimed at curbing the power of social media companies and other digital platforms.

Zach Meyers, a senior fellow at the Center for European Reform think tank, said granting a blanket amnesty based on an online poll is an “arbitrary approach” that is “difficult to reconcile with the Services Act Digital”, a new European law that will begin to apply. to the largest online platforms by mid-2023.

The law aims to protect Internet users against illegal content and to reduce the dissemination of harmful but legal content. This requires major social media platforms to be “diligent and objective” in enforcing restrictions, which must be clearly spelled out in fine print for users upon registration, Meyers said.

Britain is also working on its own online safety law.

“Unless Musk moves quickly from a ‘move fast and break things up’ approach to a more sober management style, he will be on a collision course with regulators in Brussels and London,” Meyers said.

European Union officials took to social media to voice their concerns. The 27-nation bloc’s Executive Commission released a report on Thursday that found Twitter took longer to review hate content and removed less this year compared to 2021.

The report was based on data collected in the spring – before Musk acquired Twitter – as part of an annual assessment of online platforms’ compliance with the bloc’s voluntary code of conduct on misinformation. It found that Twitter assessed just over half of the notifications it received for illegal hate speech within 24 hours, up from 82% in 2021.

The numbers can get even worse. Since taking office, Musk has helped half of the company’s 7,500 employees as well as countless contractors responsible for content moderation. Many others have resigned, including the head of corporate trust and security.

The recent dismissals on Twitter and the results of the EU review “are cause for concern”, the bloc’s justice commissioner, Didier Reynders, tweeted Thursday evening after meeting Twitter executives at EU headquarters. of the company in Dublin.

During the meeting, Reynders said he “underlined that we expect Twitter to respect its voluntary commitments and comply with EU rules”, including the Digital Services Act and the strict rules of block privacy known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Values ​​and Transparency, tweeted late Thursday that she was concerned about reports that a “large amount” of Twitter’s European staff had been made redundant.

“If you want to detect and act effectively against #disinformation and propaganda, it takes resources,” Jourova said. “Especially in the context of the Russian disinformation war.”

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