Confusion over the direction of Twitter as a platform has continued after the sign-up option for its Twitter Blue subscription disappeared barely a day after going live and grey “Official” badges returned less than two days after Elon Musk ordered their removal.
It comes as more high-profile staff responsible for vital areas such as trust and safety, data privacy, cyber security, and complying with regulations suddenly left the social media giant.
On Friday morning, the option to sign up for Twitter Blue, which gives users a blue verification badge if they pay £6.99 a month, had vanished from Twitter’s iOS app despite only being introduced on Thursday.
At the same time, new grey Official badges for large organisations began reappearing on some Twitter profiles less than two days after Mr Musk halted their introduction hours after their own initial launch, calling it “an aesthetic nightmare”.
Twitter’s official support account said the grey badges had been reintroduced to help “combat impersonation” on the site.
The grey badges had been created as a way of differentiating between verified accounts that had been awarded a blue tick previously by Twitter after being confirmed as authentic and those which had been bought under the new Twitter Blue scheme.
The confirmed departure of Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, has been labelled a major blow to the site after many raised concerns about the Twitter Blue subscription being abused by bad actors buying a blue tick to pose as real people and businesses to commit fraud and spread misinformation on the platform.
Mr Roth, a previously little-known executive, had became the public face of Twitter’s content moderation after Mr Musk took over and who had been praised by him for defending Twitter’s ongoing efforts to fight harmful misinformation and hate speech.
Mr Musk began firing thousands of Twitter staff last week as part of cost-cutting measures and told workers in his first address to them on Thursday that he was banning remote working and that “difficult times” lay ahead and which might end with the collapse of the social media platform if they cannot find new ways of making money.
“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn,” he said.
A number of advertisers are said to have paused advertising with Twitter – the company’s biggest source of revenue – over the ongoing disarray at the firm.
Regulators in the US have now said they are watching events at Twitter with “deep concern” and warned Mr Musk that no chief executive is “above the law”.
Quite the day!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2022
Meanwhile, a number of fake accounts posing as authentic, high-profile figures by using blue checkmarks gained through Twitter Blue have already been reported on the platform.
US-based PR strategist, Max Burns, said he had seen fake accounts with the verified blue tick badge bought through Twitter Blue posing as support accounts for real airlines and asking customers who were trying to contact them on Twitter to direct message the fake accounts instead.
“How long until a prankster takes a real passenger’s ticket information and cancels their flight? Or takes their credit card info and goes on a spending spree?” he said.
“It will only take one major incident for every airline to bail on Twitter as a source of customer engagement.”
Mr Burns later said that Mr Musk blocked him on Twitter when he asked if the new Twitter owner had any comment to make on the incident.
Meanwhile, Mr Musk’s only comments have been to say Thursday was “quite the day”, before adding: “Usage of Twitter continues to rise. One thing is for sure: it isn’t boring!”
He also claimed the company had hit an “all-time high of active users”.