Musk: Paid Checkmarks Won’t Return Until Twitter Stops Impersonation

When Elon Musk first launched his Twitter Blue subscription service, the intent was to buy the blue checkmark as a coveted status symbol. Now the billionaire is backtracking (for now, at least), announcement in a tweet that the relaunch of Blue Verified check marks will be delayed, and probably when it is rolled out, the check marks distinguishing Blue Verified subscribers and verified official accounts will be in different colors.

“Withholding Blue Verified relaunch until there is high confidence in stopping spoofing,” Musk tweeted. “Will likely use different color verification for organizations than for individuals.”

Many Twitter users suggested this obvious solution before the fake accounts scandal found the platform littered with imitations of popular but chaotic brands. This ultimately led Musk to revoke the option pay $8 for a Blue Verified subscription.

Musk’s tweet doesn’t elaborate on how different color checks for organizations versus individuals would actually prevent impersonation of individuals. Twitter staff warned him first that scammers would use Blue Verified to impersonate world leaders or public figures, but Musk ignored that advice at the time. While he’s still looking to salvage his brainchild of selling the checkmark to subscribers based on ordinary users striving for a celebrity status marker, there still seems to be a risk that fake accounts could do harm. to individual users.

Just this week, for example, Defect reported that a fake account used Blue Verified to impersonate FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. This fake account was based on a deepfake video claiming to show Bankman-Fried promising to repay the victims of the FTX scandal by signing them up for a cryptocurrency giveaway that would not only help them recover the lost funds, but double their money.

Based on the video and the verified Twitter tick, the fake account tricked users into visiting the cryptocurrency giveaway and sending tokens to the scammer. In return, Twitter users who were scammed got nothing, Vice reported.

In this particular case, Bankman-Fried victims were targeted for the crypto scam, but more often than not these types of scams rely on fake celebrity endorsements. If Blue Verified doesn’t distinguish between official celebrity accounts and fake ones, it’s easy to see how these crypto scams could become a bigger problem for Twitter.

Reuters reported that Musk originally planned to relaunch Blue Verified next week, but his latest tweet suggests the wait will be longer.

Musk plans to launch more Twitter 2.0 features

It makes sense that Musk would focus on protecting brands against spoofing as a priority in his relaunch of Blue Verified, because Twitter can’t turn a profit without reassuring advertisers. But Musk has other big ideas too, and he told his small team of engineers that he was going requires long hours of them to develop the platform.

The Verge obtained a recording of a meeting Musk held on Monday, reporting that Musk’s new vision of Twitter 2.0 is a service where private messages are completely private. For Musk, that means all direct messages are encrypted, so he plans to work with Signal. According to Musk, Signal is “potentially” interested in helping Musk make sure that: “I can’t watch anyone’s DMs if someone put a gun to my head.”

Signal, however, told Ars that the company has not had formal talks with Musk.

“Signal has not worked with Twitter on this effort,” Meredith Whittaker, president of Signal, told Ars. “We believe more private communications is a net good, and we’re interested in seeing how Twitter tackles the complexity of creating encrypted DMs usable on web and mobile.”

In addition to encrypted DMs, Musk wants to add encrypted voice and video chat features.

“We want to allow users to be able to communicate without worrying about their privacy, [or] without worrying about a data breach on Twitter causing all of their DMs to be accessed on the web, or thinking that maybe someone on Twitter could be spying on their DMs,” Musk told Twitter staff.

For anyone following, this means that in addition to launch of potential paid features– like DMing a celebrity or watching exclusive videos from content creators – basic fixes – like improve search on Twitter—and bold ideas—like make Twitter the next PayPal—Musk also hopes to make Twitter a go-to messenger for users. It will do this, he told his team, by deviating from other messaging services and ensuring that Twitter users don’t have to share their real phone numbers to communicate.

“You don’t have to give anyone your phone number,” Musk told employees.

It seems that, ideally in Musk’s world, Twitter IDs would become every user’s complete online identity – something obviously worth paying $8 a month, once he gets the whole spoofing stuff figured out. of identity.

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