Another day, another bit of news broadcast from Elon Musk’s Twitter account. The social platform’s owner and CEO posted that, once again, he would be delaying the final rollout of his paid verification system on the site.
“Holding off relaunch of Blue Verified until there is high confidence of stopping impersonation,” he wrote. “Will probably use different color check for organizations than individuals.”
He also echoed the same sentiment in an internal meeting with the remaining company employees on Monday, according to a report from the Verge. “We’re not going to launch until there’s high confidence in protecting against those significant impersonations,” he reportedly told Twitter staff.
In his apparent attempt at “move fast, break things,” Musk had initially promised that paid verification would be a completed feature by Nov. 7. Or at least, he threatened the employees tasked with the mission that they had to finish building the system by that date or be fired.
Then, following online pushback, he delayed the initial launch until post-midterm elections (after Stephen King bullied him into lowering the price). And when the $8 paid checkmark did first launch, chaos ensued. Impersonators popped up in droves, spoofing popular or notable accounts and sowing discord. The first run of paid verification was so bonkers it likely ended up costing pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly millions of dollars after its stock shares tanked. Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin was also hit and reportedly could have lost billions in stock value after a “verified” fake account tweeted that it would stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States.
To try to address the problem, Musk and his Twitter skeleton crew implemented a secondary gray checkmark system for governments, companies, and notable entities—but that became a whole separate can of worms. The gray badges were scrapped after just a few hours, then brought back again. For now, the gray “official” mark remains on some accounts on the site like the New York Times (though curiously not the White House), but it’s unclear from this new announcement if that is set to change yet again.
And last week, Musk said the paid blue checkmarks would relaunch on November 29th. Though, from Mondays’ two-fold announcement to employees and the public, that relaunch date is now up in the air.
If Musk is to be believed, this very public back and forth, lack of beta testing system, and general confusion is all just part of the process. And we should trust the process. “Twitter will do a lot of dumb things,” before anything is finalized, he once tweeted. Yet one might also conclude that every additional ounce of unbridled chaos eats into the platform’s legitimacy and its draw for users like journalists, government agencies, emergency alert systems, politicians, large companies, and advertisers.
But maybe Musk is hoping that a slew of new features could keep Twitter’s most prominent users around. The world’s richest man also reportedly told staff on Monday that the platform will encrypt private messages, and add video and voice chat.