Twitter May Delay Verified Badge Changes Over Election Concerns

Arguably the biggest change Elon Musk intends to make to Twitter involves how the platform's iconic blue badges are handed out. But that change may be delayed due to a major event happening in the United States. Until now, getting verified was a long process that could only be undertaken by individuals Twitter considered to be of some kind of importance. Most of the badges went to celebrities, journalists, politicians, and notable companies. The checkmark served as proof that the account actually belonged to the person tweeting from it — the logic being that it would make genuine tweets easier to spot. If someone were to make an account with a similar name, bio, and the same profile picture as someone like Elon Musk, users could quickly tell the tweets being sent from that account weren't from Musk himself due to the absent verified checkmark. 

When Musk's plans take effect, the checkmark is going to become a lot more common. Soon, anyone paying $7.99 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription will have the checkmark added to their account, along with a few other perks. Checkmarked accounts will have their tweets given priority over those sent by unverified members, see fewer ads, and show up higher in searches. Some current checkmark owners have spoken out against the plans, including horror author Stephen King who has threatened to leave the site if the move goes ahead. Musk is arguing that the new system will provide the site with essential revenue while reducing the number of bots and troll accounts. The new checkmark system seems like it will go ahead soon, but it might be subject to another delay due to a major event on the U.S. calendar.

The midterm elections may delay Twitter Blue 2.0

The launch of the new Twitter Blue may be delayed until Tuesday's midterm elections have come and gone. Social media's influence on elections, particularly in regard to the spread of conspiracies and misinformation, has been a major talking point in recent years. According to The New York Times, several employees and users raised concerns that a change to the verification system could cause issues before the election. Essentially, trolls could buy a badge and alter their account to look like a journalist, politician, or party official. The account could then be used to spread false information or make an individual look bad before the key vote. 

Apparently, the people in charge of the project agree with that assessment, with a manager allegedly saying in an internal Slack message, "We've made the decision to move the launch of this release to Nov. 9, after the election." As for future elections, Musk previously stated that accounts with a checkmark that abuse their status by spreading misinformation or pretending to be someone they aren't will have their checkmarks stripped. According to Twitter's new owner, the logic behind the claim is that bot and troll accounts are currently free to create, so charging a fee for each account will price them out of the market. Even with the delay, New Blue is expected to launch next week — and its list of initial features has pretty much been confirmed by this point.