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Musk plans to reboot Twitter’s premium service

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LONDON (AP) — Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service next week, which will offer different colored check marks for different accounts, following an earlier attempt to revive the service. In a new step to start from.

It’s the latest change for the social media platform that billionaire Tesla’s CEO bought for $44 billion last month after Musk said he would grant “amnesty” to suspended accounts and create more uncertainty for users.

Twitter previously suspended its premium service, which gave anyone paying $8 a month a blue check mark under Musk due to a spate of fake accounts. Originally, blue checks were given to government agencies, corporations, celebrities, and journalists who were verified by the platform to prevent impersonation.

Musk said Friday that in the latest version, companies would get a gold check, governments a gray check, and individuals paying for the service, whether celebrity or not, would get a blue check.

“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before the check is activated,” he said, adding it was “painful, but necessary” and promising a “long explanation” next week. He said the service was “preliminarily launched” on December 2.

Twitter pulled the plug on the new premium service just days after it launched earlier this month, prompting calls from pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly and Co., Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, and even Musk’s own companies Tesla and SpaceX. Besides various professional sports and politics were involved. Figures.

It was just a change in the past two days. On Thursday, Musk said he would grant “amnesty” to suspended accounts after the results of an online poll said accounts that had “not broken the law or engaged in gross spam” should be reinstated.

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The yes vote was 72%. These types of online polls are anything but scientific and can easily be influenced by bots. Musk was already using one before restoring former US President Donald Trump’s account.

“The people have spoken. The amnesty starts next week. Vox populi, vox Dei,” Musk tweeted Thursday, using a Latin phrase that means “voice of the people, voice of God.”

The move is likely to crash the company as European regulators look to crack down on harmful content online with tough new rules that have put Europe forward as a global leader in efforts to rein in the power of social media companies and others. helped cement Digital Platform’s reputation.

Zach Meyers, a senior research fellow at the think tank Center for European Reform, said granting a general amnesty based on an online poll is an “arbitrary approach” that is “difficult to reconcile with the Digital Services Act”, a new EU law law coming into effect. Begins to happen on most major online platforms in mid-2023.

The purpose of the law is to protect Internet users against illegal content and to prevent the spread of harmful but legal content. Meyers said the major social media platforms need to be “diligent and targeted” in enforcing the restrictions, which should be clearly stated in the fine print for users when they sign up.

Britain is also working on its own online safety law.

“Unless Musk moves from a ‘move fast and break things’ approach to a more relaxed management style, he will be on a collision course with regulators in Brussels and London,” said Meyers.

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EU officials took to social media to express their concerns. The executive committee of the 27-country bloc released a report Thursday that found Twitter took longer to review hateful content and did less this year than it did in 2021.

The report was based on data collected in the spring — before Musk acquired Twitter — as part of an annual assessment of the online platform’s compliance with The Block’s voluntary code of conduct on misinformation. It found that Twitter reviewed more than half of illegal hate speech reports received within 24 hours, up from 82% in 2021.

The numbers could get worse. Since the acquisition, Musk has helped an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation, as well as half of the company’s 7,500 workforce. Several others have resigned, including the company’s head of trust and security.

The recent layoffs at Twitter and the results of the EU review “are a source of concern,” Didier Reynders, the bloc’s justice commissioner, tweeted on Thursday evening after meeting with Twitter executives at the company’s European headquarters in Dublin. .

At the meeting, Renders said he “underlined that we expect Twitter to honor its voluntary commitments and comply with EU regulations,” the Digital Services Act, and the bloc’s stricter privacy rules under the General Data Protection Regulation, or otherwise known as as GDPR.

Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Values ​​and Transparency, tweeted on Thursday night that she was concerned about news reports that a “large portion” of Twitter’s European staff had been laid off.

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“If you want to effectively detect and combat #misinformation and propaganda, you need resources,” Jarova said. “Especially in the context of the Russian war of attrition.”

Calvin Chan, The Associated Press

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