"Killed" Twitter's 'Official' label just hours after rollout: Musk

On Wednesday evening, an 'Official' label with a tick mark in a small circle appeared below the verified Twitter handles of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several of his ministers, politicians, sportspersons and media outlets.
Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter
Elon Musk, the owner of TwitterFile photo

NEW DELHI: Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, said he has "killed" the new 'Official' label for certain verified Twitter accounts just hours after the feature was visible on multiple handles of governments, politicians, officials and media houses.

Just hours after the feature went live, he hinted that it simply didn't work.

"I just killed it," he said in a tweet replying to a web video producer Marques Brownlee's tweet of the 'Official' label vanishing after a brief appearance.

On Wednesday evening, an 'Official' label with a tick mark in a small circle appeared below the verified Twitter handles of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several of his ministers, politicians, sportspersons and media outlets.

The idea being to mark accounts of government officials, media outlets and other public figures once changes to the platform's blue checkmarks come into force.

"We're not currently putting an 'Official' label on accounts but we are aggressively going after impersonation and deception," Twitter said in a tweet.

The world's richest man added: "Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn't."

To clear the obvious confusion that the appearance and sudden disappearance of the 'Official' label created, Musk posted a tweet calling himself the "Complaint hotline operator".

"Please mention your complaints below," he said.

Esther Crawford, who works on early-stage products for Twitter, then tweeted: "The official label is still going out as part of the Twitter Blue launch - we are just focusing on government and commercial entities to begin with.

"What you saw him mention was the fact that we're not focusing on giving individuals the 'official' label right now."

Later, speaking in an online town square meeting, Musk said the 'official' tag could turn into an "aesthetic nightmare".

"There are no sacred cows in product at Twitter anymore. Elon is willing to try lots of things -- many will fail, some will succeed. The goal is to find the right mix of successful changes to ensure the long-term health and growth of the business," Crawford tweeted.

Besides Modi, the 'Official' label on Wednesday evening appeared on Twitter handles of several government departments and ministers including Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, some other opposition party leaders as well as sportspersons like Sachin Tendulkar too were given that label.

The label was said to be in line with Twitter's just-announced changes for verified accounts, as part of its new USD 8 premium subscription product.

When the label was rolled out, Esther Crawford in a tweet said: "A lot of folks have asked about how you'll be able to distinguish between @TwitterBlue subscribers with blue checkmarks and accounts that are verified as official, which is why we're introducing the 'Official' label to select accounts when we launch."

"Not all previously verified accounts will get the 'Official' label and the label is not available for purchase. Accounts that will receive it include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures," she had said.

The new Twitter Blue, she said, does not include ID verification. "It's an opt-in, paid subscription that offers a blue checkmark and access to select features. We'll continue to experiment with ways to differentiate between account types."

For verified accounts, Musk said the description would be changed. "We are changing the text to say "Legacy Verified. Could be notable, but could also be bogus"."

The changes came days after the world's richest man Elon Musk took over Twitter Inc for USD 44 billion and brought in a slew of changes, including a subscription programme and a new verification system.

He has announced a USD 8 per month price tag for the Blue Tick verification of handles.

Twitter's chargeable blue tick verification service is expected to roll out in India in "less than a month", Musk had said on Sunday.

Twitter's strategy to introduce a monthly charge for the verified badge has polarised users globally.

Musk, the CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc, completed his USD 44-billion takeover of Twitter in October-end, placing the world's richest man at the helm of one of the most influential social media apps in the world.

He also fired the social media company's four top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and legal executive Vijaya Gadde.

Twitter then proceeded to fire the majority of its over 200 employees in India as part of mass layoffs across the globe ordered by Musk who is looking to make the blockbuster acquisition work.

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