Twitter’s blue-label authentication system has recently sparked a series of controversies. Since Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought the social networking company, he has made several changes to Twitter’s authentication policy, causing dissatisfaction among users and the media.
Initially, Elon Musk removed almost all accounts that had received Blue Label accreditation prior to his acquisition, including some politicians, celebrities and media outlets. He said that users would have to pay $8 (currently about RMB 55) a month to get Blue Label accreditation as a way to boost Twitter’s revenue. However, shortly afterwards it emerged that Elon Musk had privately blue-tagged three celebrity Twitter users – actor Tom Cruise, singer Beyoncé and author J.K. Rowling. The move sparked an outcry from other users.
It was later announced that Twitter had reinstated the blue label for many accounts with more than one million followers, including Sir Ian McLean, the actor from The Lord of the Rings and the X-Men franchise. McLean said on Twitter that he did not pay for the Blue Label to be reinstated and expressed sarcasm at the “honour”.
In addition to the accreditation policy, Twitter also flagged some media accounts earlier this month, classifying them as “government-funded” or “state-affiliated”. These included National Public Radio (NPR), the BBC and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). However, these labels were also quickly removed. According to NPR.com, this was because Elon Musk took advice from Walter Isaacson, the famous journalist and biographer of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Isaacson is currently writing a similar biography of Elon Musk.
Some see Elon Musk’s repeated changes to Twitter’s authentication system as an experiment in different business models and social influence, while others see it as an abuse of his power and wealth. Either way, Elon Musk has become one of the most controversial and talked about figures on the social network.