Elon Musk has postponed the relaunch of his flagship subscription service, Twitter Blue, in the latest sign of the challenges the billionaire is facing as he tries to overhaul the social media platform.
The billionaire entrepreneur, who bought Twitter for $44 billion last month, said in a tweet late Monday that he was “holding back” from relaunching the product until there was “strong confidence to stop identity theft”.
Musk had planned to reboot Twitter Blue on Nov. 29 after its botched rollout earlier this month, which saw its “blue tick” feature abused by copycats on the platform.
Musk said on Twitter on Monday that the subscription service would “likely use different color verification for organizations than for individuals.”
This is the latest development in a tumultuous few weeks for Twitter under Musk, in which he fired half of the company’s workforce and forced the departure of hundreds more last week after urging them to formally commit to ‘harsh’ working conditions or to take three months of severance pay.
Twitter Blue’s botched rollout has exacerbated growing concerns among brands about whether the platform is a safe place to advertise or post, given Musk’s previous promises to ease content moderation rules and of his decision on Sunday to restore Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
Trump was banned for life on the platform shortly after a crowd of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 last year.
Musk identified launching the subscription service, which gives paid users access to additional features, including a blue tick, as a priority when he took over Twitter. He pitched Twitter Blue as a way to boost revenue by charging users $7.99 per month for exclusive perks.
Paid users will receive a “blue tick” – currently reserved for verified businesses, politicians, celebrities and journalists – along with other perks, including the ability to edit tweets and filter notifications.
But Twitter Blue has been in trouble, with the first iteration pulled just days after launch after users abused the system to impersonate high-profile individuals and brands.
This included a fake Eli Lilly account that stated the drugmaker was offering free insulin. Another user posted a tweet from an account impersonating Lockheed Martin that claimed the company was halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States pending a response. investigate their human rights record.
In a bid to reassure advertisers and high-profile users, Musk previously said he was “pushing” the service’s relaunch to November 29 “to make sure it’s solid.”
Even before the botched rollout, top brands including General Motors, Carlsberg and General Mills had suspended ad spending with Twitter for “brand safety” reasons.
Twitter has also suffered an exodus of senior executives over the past two weeks, adding to regulator concerns on the security of its data and compliance with the rules of confidentiality.