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Elon Musk announces delay for $8 Twitter Blue verified badges in latest setback

Elon Musk announces delay for $8 Twitter Blue verified badges in latest setback

Elon Musk has announced a further delay to his controversial plans to allow anyone on Twitter to become “verified” by paying $8 per month.

Mr Musk, who bought the social network for $44bn last month, said on Tuesday that he was “punting” the relaunch of his new Twitter Blue service to 29 November “to make sure that it is rock solid”.

It comes after he suspended the new feature just days into its launch due to a plague of $8 pranksters impersonating celebrities, sports stars, major companies, and Jesus Christ.

Mr Musk had criticised Twitter’s famous blue checkmark badge, which was previously given only to “notable” people to prevent them from being impersonated, as a “lords and peasants” system.

Instead, he claimed that allowing anyone to become verified by signing up to a subscription service called Twitter Blue would “democratise journalism and empower the voice of the people”.

Within days, however, he was forced to block new sign-ups after a chaotic series of hoax accounts imitating everyone from Arizona governor candidate Kari Lake through basketball star LeBron James to Mr Musk himself.

According to The New York Times, one account imitating the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly – which declared that “insulin is free now” – caused real corporate executives to withdraw all their advertising spending from Twitter after trying and failing to contact the social network’s employees.

Eli Lilly has often been criticised for the high starting price of its US insulin medications, which some diabetes activists blame for the death of patients who could not afford their doses.

The new launch date is about three weeks after it was initially intended. Mr Musk appears set on pressing forward, telling another user on Tuesday night that “all unpaid legacy checkmarks will be removed in a few months”.

Twitter has not said how it plans to prevent impersonation under Mr Musk’s new plan, beyond attaching less obvious grey “official” labels to some accounts.

Mr Musk has said that the social network will crack down more heavily on those who break its rules against impersonation. However, he now appears to have fired many of the employees and contractors who would be responsible for enforcing this.