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The global technological ecosystem was shook once again as Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, announced major changes in the verification policy that might have a vast effect on a range of social media networks.

Musk was quick to capitalise on the platform’s prominent “Verified” feature. Initially, rumours stated that Musk planned to impose $20 per month fee for users to retain the coveted blue tick on their profiles. Later, the amount was revealed to be $8.

Twitter starts rolling out new paid subscription

By doing this, Musk introduced a subscription model on the platform that may well be replicated by its rivals in the future. This comes at a time when all social media platforms are struggling with revenue and innovation. In fact, the stock price of Meta has plunged steeply over the past few months. After reporting a market capitalisation of $1 trillion in June 2021, the company is worth $240.73 billion at present. To recoup the losses, Meta is now planning large scale layoffs that will impact thousands of employees. To put it mildly, the company is in deep waters.

The company’s two social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram are at the centre of criticism from users who have reported a sharp disruption in their smooth experience. While Facebook is riddled with promotions and advertisements, Instagram is failing to replicate TikTok’s model which might be due to the fact that TikTok is not a social media platform. The conglomerate’s other platform, WhatsApp, is so far performing well but again, that is not a social media platform.

In other words, the social media ecosystem of the world is undergoing a massive crisis at present given the bad experiences from the side of users.

Musk defends paid blue badge plans for Twitter

Circling back to Twitter, Musk believes that imposing $8 per month to retain the blue tick will help the platform fight bots. Bots have been a huge problem for Twitter and Musk has voiced his criticism about them since the day the news of a possible acquisition broke out.

On one hand, anyone who can afford to pay $8 per month to Twitter can have a blue tick on their handles and this is expected to make access to correct information harder. Twitter is used by journalists to check latest developments and while this is not the point of the platform, the prevalence of genuine information will suffer.

On the other hand, people who don’t pay $8 per month might see a drop in their audience and their posts may be filtered and dumped downward on the website. Finally, people and organisations might also lose their blue ticks. The ticks are used by the public to identify genuine people, organisations and services. If they are dropped, it will become a cumbersome exercise to find out whether a given account is real or not.

This might also give rise to scams which are already rife in the digital space. Musk seems to have a plan in mind to deal with impersonators - however, its success can only be gauged in time.

Multiple accounts having similar names can make it difficult to be identified correctly without the blue tick. Moreover, genuine organisations will now need to make extra effort in order to prove their authenticity if they opt out of paying $8 per month.

Musk lays out Twitter mission, sparks debate on content accuracy

This can benefit users in only one way and that is when a person dies, they will not be able to pay to Twitter therefore the tick would be dropped automatically. Hence, verified accounts of deceased people will be cleared of the tick.

One thing is clear, Musk is not going to run the social network as it functioned in the past. He wants to revamp everything which can be immediately seen from large-scale layoffs.

This, however, opens doors of opportunities for other prominent platforms. Meta now seems to be bracing to replicate the subscription model in an effort to increase its revenue stream. It is already charging people to access creators’ content in some countries.

The new revelation from Twitter might fuel its focus on the subscription for verification model as well.

Social media seems to be entering the next phase of its evolution which will bring drastic changes. The age of freebies could now possibly be over.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Omar Qureshi

The writer is Senior Sub Editor at Business Recorder (Digital)

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