The sudden suspension of the service shows that, at least right now, CEO Elon Musk’s strategy to bring in a new user-based revenue isn’t succeeding as expected.
A week after taking control of Twitter, Elon Musk made a significant change by charging users to have their accounts verified with a blue checkmark next to their username “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow.”
But very soon after the service was launched, Elon Musk reportedly felt forced to have no choice but cancel the service as a wave of fake accounts began exploiting the verified checkmarks from Twitter’s Blue paid subscription service to post bogus tweets while impersonating some of biggest brands in the world.
One of the most disturbing fake posts was from a user pretending to represent the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, erroneously informing diabetics that insulin was now free. Following the bogus account’s hundreds of retweets, which included people who seemed to think the news was true, the actual brand was forced to issue an apology via Twitter. Soon after, the jokes picked up again when another fake account mimicked the official Eli Lilly account’s apologetic tweet and made fun of the company for charging $400 for its insulin.
“Basically, tricking people is not OK,” Musk tweeted. The option to pay for the Twitter blue tick was therefore removed.
Some users started complaining that the $7. 99 Twitter Blue subscription option was no longer available, while those who had already been verified saw that their “Official” blue checkmarks had been restored. However, since Twitter has no communications unit, there is no official source to find out whether paid verification has been permanently stopped or is only currently inactive.
Charging users who wished to get verified with blue ticks was Musk’s big plan aimed to remove fake accounts and solve Twitter’s declining ad revenue. However, it seems that his strategy did not work. Musk has tweeted that he expects to put Twitter users through chaotic trial-and-error phases as he figures out what works and what doesn’t.