Elon Musk killed off new official Twitter tags hours after launch

The platform is preparing to allow any user to sign up for a blue tick verification badge

Elon Musk “killed” a new “official” tag for high-profile Twitter accounts within hours of it being posted.

The “official” label was intended to feature the accounts of government officials, media and other public figures, but the labels were soon scrapped because they were an “aesthetic nightmare”.

The Twitter chief said the change – which is due to be implemented after the US midterm elections – would give “power to the people” and allow anyone to get the designation, rather than those in public office.

The move has raised concerns that this will make it difficult to identify original accounts on the site, as Blue subscribers will not be required to verify their identity.

Elon Musk has given up a new “official” tag for high-profile Twitter accounts (Composite: Kim Mogg)

Twitter later announced that it had added a second “official” badge to identify accounts as a way to distinguish blue subscribers from those the platform verified as official subscribers. However, some industry commentators have argued that the new double-checking process will make the system more confusing.

The platform responded to the criticism, reversing the movement just hours after the new gray official badge appeared on several high-profile accounts, including those of major news organizations and public figures.

Musk defended the decision during a Town Hall interview with advertisers on Wednesday (November 9). Speaking via the platform’s Twitter Spaces feature, which allows users to participate in live audio discussions, the Twitter chief said the official system was an “aesthetic nightmare.”

“The problem with Official is that aside from being an aesthetic nightmare when looking at the Twitter feed, it was just another way to create a two-tier system,” he said. “So the fundamental issue (which is) that there are too many entities to be considered official or have some kind of old blue check mark has not been addressed.”

Instead, Musk said they would be “very active” in rooting out scams. He added, “Going back to what I said earlier, which is that we are going to be very active about eliminating deception.

“So if someone tries to impersonate a brand, that account will be suspended, and we’ll keep the eight dollars. They can keep doing that, and we’ll keep the eight again, and again – cool – we can do that all day, and they’ll stop.”

“So the point here is that if the account is involved in scams, we’ll suspend it. They’ll try, of course, they’ll try. But it’s starting to get expensive, and they’ll start needing lots of credit cards and lots of phones — and eventually they’ll stop paying.”

Changes to the verification system have been a key part of Musk’s plans since the billionaire completed his takeover of the platform last month. He argued that opening the verification process to more people would help democratize Twitter and reduce spam and bot accounts on the site.

Critics responded by saying that charging people for a blue badge and the other perks that come with it – including verified responses that appear more prominently – will only help those who are able to pay for it and not the original users of the platform as a whole.

The introduction of the $8 (£7) monthly fee for Twitter Blue is also part of Musk’s efforts to create new revenue streams for Twitter. The platform is currently almost entirely dependent on money from advertising – the income stream is already shrinking due to the global economic downturn.

There have also been reports that advertisers could pull out of the site if Musk enacts some of his other controversial plans on Twitter, including allowing banned accounts, such as that of Donald Trump, to return.