Twitter’s trust and safety lead Ella Irwin resigns

Twitter’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin has resigned, the now-former executive confirmed to Reuters on Thursday.

Irwin took over for Yoel Roth, who famously left the company during the early days of Elon Musk’s chaotic Twitter takeover. While Roth clashed with Musk over the new Twitter owner’s hands-off approach to content moderation, Irwin appeared well-aligned with Musk’s ideals, which have welcomed neo-Nazis and fostered a rise in hate speech on the platform in recent months.

At the time of writing, Irwin and Musk had yet to comment on the situation. While we don’t yet know the catalyst, the timing does align with Twitter’s drama du jour.

On Thursday, conservative outlet the Daily Wire claimed that Twitter “canceled a deal” for the website to make its film, “What is a Woman,” available on the platform for free. The documentary is feature length attack on transgender people — and one that Musk said was perfectly at home on the social network.

“This was a mistake by many people at Twitter,” Musk told Daily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boreing in a reply. “It is definitely allowed.”

In spite of Musk’s assertion, the documentary’s reach was limited on Twitter at the time of writing, citing the platform’s rules against hateful conduct.

While it’s not clear that the Irwin situation is connected, she likely would have been involved in the decision to label the video, which is currently igniting a firestorm among conservative and anti-transgender Twitter users who see Musk as reliable ally.

Twitter’s trust and safety lead Ella Irwin resigns by Taylor Hatmaker originally published on TechCrunch

Fidelity has cut Reddit valuation by 41% since 2021 investment

Fidelity, the lead investor in Reddit’s most recent 2021 funding round, has slashed the estimated worth of its equity stake in the popular social media platform by 41% since the investment, the latest high-profile write-down amid a weakening worldwide economy on public markets.

Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund’s stake in Reddit was valued at $16.6 million as of April 28, according to the fund’s monthly disclosure released over the weekend. That’s down 41.1% over the $28.2 million the firm spent to acquire the Reddit shares in the Series F funding, according to disclosures the firm has made in its annual and semi-annual reports.

Reddit was valued at $10 billion when the social media giant attracted funds in August 2021. Fidelity — which has marked down its stakes in many startups including Stripe and Reddit in recent quarters — also slashed the value of its Twitter stake, it disclosed in the filing, valuing Elon Musk’s firm at about $15 billion.

Reddit declined to comment.

This devaluation, part of a broader trend that has hit a variety of growth stage startups across the globe in the past year, raises uncertainties about whether Reddit will maintain its initial intent to reportedly go public at a valuation around $15 billion.

Reddit, which has raised over $1 billion to date, counts Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz among its backers.

The current wave of valuation cutbacks sheds new light on the impact of deteriorating worldwide economic conditions on fledgling startups. Despite the diminished funding activities for startups globally over the past year, valuations of numerous larger startups have stayed constant.

Fidelity has cut Reddit valuation by 41% since 2021 investment by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Twitter launches Community Notes for images

In an effort to put more onus on crowdsourced moderation, Twitter has launched Community Notes for images in posts. The company is aiming to address scenarios of morphed images or AI-generated images across the platform where the photos are posted. In other words, the platform wants to flag content like “the Balenciaga Pope” that went viral a few weeks ago. The launch comes days after an AI-generated image about an attack on the Pentagon spread quickly as prominent accounts retweeted it.

Twitter said that notes written for an image will appear on “recent & future” posts containing it. At the moment, the feature is in the test phase and will work for tweets with a singular image.

The company said that only Community Notes contributors with an impact score — a score that measures the helpfulness of contributor’s notes — of 10 will be able to see an option to submit notes about an image rather than a tweet. This way, if other users tweet the same image but with different captions, the Community Notes will remain the same.

Tweets containing images with notes will have a label saying “This note is about the image and could be shown on other Tweets including the image.”

Image Credits: Twitter

The social network said it is working on expanding this feature to support videos and tweets with multiple media. It also noted that since this is an early version of Community Notes for media content, the matching algorithm might miss a few tweets that includes an image with notes.

The Pengatgon attack hoax spreading quickly was a combination of paid verified accounts and AI-generated images. Even though the original image and the tweet were deleted, the photo was still being circulated on the social network. This issue is also spreading to fake AI-generated ads misleading people into believing that prominent personalities like former footballer Ian Wright and chef Gordon Ramsey have passed away.

After Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the company has heavily relied on crowdsourced moderation through Community Notes as it let go of staff working on trust and safety to cut costs.

Last year, Twitter rolled out Community Notes worldwide. Earlier this year, it started accepting contributions from various countries. In February, Twitter rolled out a feature to make people aware of the context related to a tweet — the social network started sending notifications when a post a user has retweeted or replied to get a note after the fact.

Twitter launches Community Notes for images by Ivan Mehta originally published on TechCrunch

Block Party’s anti-harassment tool for Twitter is going on hiatus

Now that Twitter’s API access is locked behind a tall paywall, long beloved third-party apps are shutting down. The latest to bite the dust is Block Party, an anti-harassment tool that helped people stay safe from targeted harassment on Twitter.

“We’re heartbroken that we won’t be able to help protect you from harassers and spammers on the platform, at least for now; we fought very hard to stay, and we’re so sorry that we couldn’t make it happen,” Block Party wrote in a blog post. The company said that it helped users block and mute millions of trolls over the last four years, but starting on May 31, it will go on indefinite hiatus.

Under Elon Musk’s ownership, Twitter has alienated developers. The platform began began by shutting down Toolbox, which showcased third-party developers’ work. By January, popular third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific stopped working with no notice. And finally, a few months later, Twitter completely severed ties with many developers by paywalling access to its API. The basic tier for API access is $100 per month, yet developers have found that this cannot sustain most projects. The paywall also hampers the work of researchers and academics, many of whom do not have the institutional funding necessary to spend thousands of dollars for data that used to be free.

According to Block Party founder Tracy Chou, Twitter had proactively reached out to Block Party in the pre-Musk days to work together in tandem. But those days are over for Twitter’s once-thriving community of developers, for which the loss of Block Party is yet another blow.

i’m obviously sad we have to put our twitter products on hold right now, for so many reasons but not least because i’m a user of block party too,” Chou tweeted Tuesday evening. “i built it because i knew how bad it was for my mental health to have to see shittiness in my mentions all day long.”

Thankfully, this isn’t the end of the road for Block Party as a company. Block Party raised a $4.8 million seed round this past September to allow the platform to expand its anti-harassment and privacy tools beyond Twitter.

Now that the app is forced to shut down its flagship product, it will be even more crucial to successfully build out its next tool, Privacy Party.

As a product, Block Party could be used to help users curate a safer Twitter experience, but it was more well-known for helping people navigate moments of crisis, like targeted harassment campaigns. Privacy Party is designed as more of a proactive tool. At launch, the extension gives users privacy recommendations for Facebook, Twitter and Venmo, and plans to roll out to Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn in the future.

“Often in the world of social media safety, it’s not clear what you should be doing, or what decisions you need to make,” reads the announcement for Privacy Party. The goal of the browser extension is to make these privacy decisions more clear and simple, since they can be tricky to navigate. “Once you decide what boundaries you want, automations go do the confusing and tedious work of finding the right settings and implementing them.”

In conjunction with its announcement that Block Party will be on hiatus, the company announced that Privacy Party is available in alpha testing for existing Block Party customers.

“This isn’t the first setback we’ve experienced in our fight to make the internet safer for everyone, and it won’t be the last,” Block Party wrote in its blog post. “It’s also yet another example of why large social media platforms can’t be trusted to do the right thing for user safety without regulation or other meaningful incentives.”

Block Party’s anti-harassment tool for Twitter is going on hiatus by Amanda Silberling originally published on TechCrunch

Twitter introduces a new $5,000 per month API tier

Twitter announced a new API tier today called Twitter API Pro for startups that costs $5,000 per month. The tier gives developers the ability to fetch 1 million tweets per month, post 300,000 tweets per month, and access to the full archive search end-point.


The Elon Musk-led company announced the new pricing tiers in March. Earlier in the year, Twitter announced that it will shutter access to its free API tier. However, it somewhat walked back that decision by offering 1,500 tweets per month free access for content provider bots.

The new tier sits between the $100 per month basic tier and the $42,000 per month enterprise tier. Twitter is calling this new level suitable for “startups scaling their business.”

When Twitter announced the new pricing, many developers and founders argued that the company should introduce a middle tier between Basic and Enterprise for startups that can’t afford to spend nearly half a million dollars per year.

The new Pro API tier will cater to some of those folks, but won’t solve for businesses who run on tight budgets as they still have to shell out $60,000 per year. For example, this new posting limit of the Pro tier might be sufficient for some of the bots, but it would be tough for developers to raise money through subscriptions or donations to sustain the service for a long time.

Notably, Twitter hasn’t still developed a solution for researchers and academics. In March, the company said that it was “looking at new ways” to serve that community, but the social network hasn’t made any announcement yet.

Recently at an event, Musk said that Twitter was on “the comeback arc” after he took drastic measures to cut costs. Earlier this month, the company hired NBCU’s Linda Yaccarino as CEO of both Twitter and the ambitious “everything app X.”

Twitter introduces a new $5,000 per month API tier by Ivan Mehta originally published on TechCrunch

Elon Musk’s Twitter: Everything you need to know, from layoffs to verification

Welcome to Elon Musk’s Twitter, where the rules are made up and the check marks don’t matter.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO first announced his bid to buy Twitter in April 2022, zealously driven to rid the platform of spam bots and protect free speech.

“This is just my strong, intuitive sense that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” Musk said at a TED conference on the day he made his offer. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”

Even for one of the richest men in the world, $44 billion is a lot of money to cough up to buy a middling social platform. Despite his fervent declarations about expanding “the scope and scale of consciousness” through public discourse, the billionaire got cold feet. A month later in May, he tried to kill the deal, claiming that Twitter had more bots than its public filings let on. After a truly chaotic legal discovery process, which even included some embarrassing texts, Musk was forced to seal the deal. By October, the platform was his.

Since Musk bought Twitter and took the company private, the news around the microblogging platform has been a whirlwind, rife with verification chaos, API access shakeups, ban reversals and staggering layoffs. Most recently, Musk tweeted that he will transition from his role as Twitter CEO to serving as its executive chair and CTO. It was announced on May 12 that Linda Yaccarino will step in as the next Twitter CEO. Yaccarino will be leaving her role as chairman of Global Advertising & Partnerships at NBCU.

If you’re just catching up, here’s a complete timeline of what’s going down at the bird app, starting with the most recent news:

May 2023

Twitter Blue users can now upload two-hour videos

Twitter made changes to its paid plan, allowing subscribers to upload two-hour videos — expanding the previous 60-minute limit.

The company also modified its Twitter Blue page and said the video file size limit for paid users is now increased from 2GB to 8GB. While earlier longer video upload was only possible from the web, now it’s also possible through the iOS app. Despite these changes, the maximum quality for upload still remains 1080p.

The rumors are confirmed: NBCU’s leader Linda Yaccarino as the next CEO of Twitter

Musk confirmed Yaccarino’s new role in a tweet this morning (May 12), a day after he announced that he had completed his search for a new CEO.

Elon Musk tweets that he has found a new Twitter CEO 

“Excited to announce that I’ve a new CEO for X/Twitter,” Musk wrote in a tweet on May 11. “She will be starting in ~6 weeks! My role will transition to being exec chair & CTO, overseeing product, software & sysops.”

Twitter released its first version of encrypted DMs

Currently, this feature is only available to verified Blue users or accounts associated with verified organizations. Additionally, the encryption feature isn’t compatible with group messages and Twitter doesn’t offer protection against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Twitter now allows you to react to DMs with emojis

Twitter has introduced a new feature that lets users choose almost any emoji to react to a DM in a conversation. Previously, the company allowed you to react to only the most recent DM with only a select set of emojis. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the new feature is rolling out with the latest app update.

Twitter is purging old accounts and freeing up desired usernames, according to Elon Musk 

According to recent tweets by Twitter owner Elon Musk, Twitter is purging inactive accounts that have had “no activity at all for several years.”

Twitter is contemplating a cheaper verification plan for organizations

Twitter is thinking about an organizational verification plan that doesn’t cost $1,000 a month. Over the Cinco de Mayo weekend, Elon Musk said on Twitter that the company is working on a cheaper plan for small businesses, but didn’t give any details about the cost.

Twitter confirmed Circle tweets were temporarily not private 

Twitter confirmed a security error that made Circle tweets surface publicly. TechCrunch reported the glitch in early April, but the platform confirmed the issue May 5 in an email sent to Twitter Circle users.

“In April 2023, a security incident may have allowed users outside of your Twitter Circle to see tweets that should have otherwise been limited to the Circle to which you were posting,” the email said. Twitter claims that the bug has now been fixed, and that the team knows what caused it.

Twitter makes its API free for public announcement accounts 

Twitter announced on May 2 that it is making its API free for verified government or public-owned services posting about public utility alerts such as weather alerts, transportation information and emergency warnings. This comes a month after the company announced its new API pricing tiers.

Twitter is randomly logging out users

After reporting earlier that Twitter was experiencing a bug that was allowing people to edit their bios to briefly regain their Verified checkmarks, the Twitter website this afternoon has begun to forcefully log out users at random. There are a number of complaints about the problem on Twitter itself, indicating that at least some are able to get back in after being booted from the site.

The issue appears to be impacting desktop users at this time who are using Twitter via the web. Some claim they’re being logged out repeatedly.

A bug on Twitter causes legacy blue checks to reappear by updating your Twitter bio

It doesn’t seem to matter what text you’re adding to your bio — TechCrunch reporter Amanda Silberling added a few spaces, then got her check back for a moment. It even showed up with the old text that designates that she is “notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category,” and she did not, in fact, pay for this. But once you refresh the page it disappears. In fact, it’s unclear whether anyone else can even see your check briefly reappear.

April 2023

EU warns Twitter over disinformation

Twitter was confirmed April 25 as one of 19 major tech platforms subject to centralized oversight by the European Union’s executive starting this fall, when so-called very large online platforms (VLOPs) are expected to be compliant with the Digital Services Act (DSA). But the Commission has not wasted any time warning the Elon Musk-owned social network that things aren’t looking good for staying on the right side of the incoming law.

In a pair of tweets, Vera Jourova, the EU’s values and transparency VP, warned of “yet another negative sign” by Twitter — accusing the platform under Musk of “not making digital information space any safer and free from the Kremlin #disinformation & malicious influence”.

Twitter now shows labels on tweets with reduced visibility

Twitter said that labels will be shown to both authors and viewers. Usually, these tweets will show text such as “Visibility limited: this Tweet may violate Twitter’s rules against Hateful Conduct.”

Twitter’s enforcement policy says that tweets with such labels will not show up in search results, recommendations or timelines — those tweets will be hidden in both the “For You” and “Following timelines. Additionally, there will be no ads placed adjacent to posts with reduced visibility.

Twitter restored Blue verification mark for top accounts, even if they didn’t pay for Twitter Blue

Over the April 21st weekend, multiple top accounts (with more than 1 million followers) got their verification marks back. However, many of them, including writer Neil Gaiman, footballer Riyad Mahrez, musician Lil Nas X, actress Janel Parrish Long and British TV presenter Richard Osman said that they didn’t pay for the blue badge.

In March, The New York Times reported that Twitter was considering handing out a free verification mark to the top 10,000 brands and companies. It’s not clear if Twitter is applying the same policy to personal accounts.

Twitter removes ‘government-funded’ news labels

Twitter has removed “government-funded media” labels on all accounts, from NPR to the Chinese state-affiliated Xinhua News. Twitter even appears to have deleted its web page explaining the “government-funded media” labels.

Twitter sends an email seemingly requiring advertisers to have a verified checkmark

Several Twitter users have posted screenshots of an email reportedly sent by Twitter, which states that starting from April 21, verified checkmarks are required to continue running ads on the platform.

Twitter officially kills legacy blue checkmarks on 4/20

With the legacy checks gone, Twitter will have verification marks only for paid users and businesses, as well as government entities and officials. Now if a user sees a blue check mark and clicks on it, the label reads: “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”

Microsoft drops Twitter from its advertising platform

Microsoft is dropping Twitter from its advertising platform starting on April 25, nearly two months after Twitter announced that it will begin charging a minimum of $42,000 per month to users of its API, including enterprises and research institutions. The moves mean users will no longer be able to access their Twitter account, or create, schedule or otherwise manage tweets through Microsoft’s free social media management service.

Twitter owner Elon Musk threatened to take legal action:

Twitter quietly removes policy against misgendering trans people

Twitter updated its content moderation guidelines regarding hateful content, removing a policy that prohibited the targeted deadnaming or misgendering of transgender people. Enacted in 2018, the policy explicitly stated that it violated Twitter’s rules to repeatedly and purposefully call a transgender person by the wrong name or pronouns.

Twitter to label tweets that get downranked for violating its hate speech policy

Twitter plans to “soon” begin adding visible labels on tweets that have been identified as potentially violating its policies, which has impacted their visibility. It did not say when exactly the system would be fully rolled out across its network.

Typically, when tweets violate Twitter’s policies, one of the actions the company can take is to limit the reach of those tweets — or something it calls “visibility filtering.” In these scenarios, the tweets remain online but become less discoverable, as they’re excluded from areas like search results, trends, recommended notifications, For You and Following timelines, and more.

Historically, the wider public would not necessarily know if a tweet had been moderated in this way. Now Twitter says that will change.

Twitter introduces 10,000-character-long tweets for Blue subscribers

Twitter’s new feature will let Blue subscribers post 10,000-character-long posts — as if the social network is trying to compete with a rival newsletter platform. Twitter has also added support for bold and italic text formatting.

Long-form writing is also not entirely new. Last June, the company introduced a program called Twitter Notes for select writers. However, that program was shut down under Musk. After taking over the company he also killed newsletter tool Revue, a startup Twitter had acquired in 2021.

NPR, PBS and a handful of other news organizations bail on Twitter as Musk meddles with account labels

A PBS spokesperson confirmed to Axios that PBS had “no plans to resume tweeting” after Twitter gave it a murky “government-funded media” label over the weekend. A few other news entities appeared to have followed suit, including the prominent Boston NPR affiliate WBUR, Hawaii Public Radio and LA-based local news source LAist.

The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC Australia), Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), New Zealand’s public broadcaster RNZ, Sweden’s SR Ekot and SVT, and Catalonia’s a were labeled “government-funded media” weeks later.

Twitter partners with eToro to show real-time stock and crypto information

This expands upon the social network’s Cashtag feature, which provided info about a limited number of stocks and crypto coins through TradingView data.

The new partnership with eToro goes beyond just displaying information. It also redirects users to the eToro site where they can engage in trading. If you search for a stock on Twitter, you will see a button saying “View on eToro,” which redirects to the site.

Elon Musk says he only bought Twitter because he thought he’d be forced to 

Elon Musk gave a rare interview to an actual reporter late on Tuesday, speaking to BBC reporter James Clayton on Twitter Spaces. During the interview, Clayton pressed Musk on whether his purchase of Twitter was, in the end, something he went through with willingly, or whether it was something he did because the active court case at the time in which Twitter was trying to force him to go through with the sale was going badly.

The answer was that Musk did indeed only do the deal because he believed legally, he was going to be forced to do so anyway.

Elon Musk says Twitter will officially remove legacy checkmarks on 4/20

This is the “final date,” he said in a tweet. If the move goes through, Twitter will have verification marks only for paid users and businesses, and government entities and officials.

Twitter, Inc. is now X Corp.

Twitter, Inc. is now called X Corp., according to a court filing in California.

Since Twitter is no longer a public company, it does not have to report updates like name changes to the SEC. But in any case, the new name was spotted in an April 4 document related to far-right activist Laura Loomer’s lawsuit against Twitter and Facebook.

“Twitter, Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists,” the document states.

Ex-Twitter CEO and other execs sue firm over unpaid legal bills

The lawsuit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, alleged that Twitter has to pay more than $1 million to the former executives for legal bills they incurred while at the company to respond to requests by the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Twitter Circle tweets aren’t that private

Numerous Twitter users reported a bug on April 10 in which Circle tweets are surfacing on the algorithmically generated For You timeline. That means that your supposedly private posts might breach containment to reach an unintended audience, which could quickly spark some uncomfortable situations.

TechCrunch has spoken to multiple users who have also experienced this glitch firsthand; many more have reported the glitch in their tweets. Most often, it seems that Circle tweets are being surfaced in the For You timeline to users who follow the poster, but are not in their Circle. Others have reported that their Circle tweets are reaching even further than those who follow them.

A year later, Twitter is now resurfacing official Russian accounts in search results

The Elon Musk-owned platform has resumed surfacing accounts of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Embassy in search results. A former Twitter employee told the publication that this move is likely because of a policy change.

Twitter won’t let you retweet, like or reply to Substack links

Twitter is censoring Substack links by making the posts impossible to reply to, like or retweet. While quote-tweeting works, simply pressing the retweet button surfaces an error message: “Some actions on this Tweet have been disabled by Twitter.”

You didn’t hear this from us, but if you link to a Substack via a redirected URL, it seems to post without restrictions.

Twitter Blue subscribers will now be shown ‘half ads’ on the platform

Twitter is rolling out additional features for Blue subscribers including showing 50% of ads in their timeline compared to non-paid users and a visibility boost in search.

“As you scroll, you will see approximately twice as many organic or non-promoted Tweets placed in between promoted Tweets or ads. There may be times when there are more or fewer non-promoted Tweets between promoted Tweets,” Twitter’s description of the feature says.

While Twitter is claiming to reduce ads on paid subscribers’ feeds, it is hard to prove if they are actually seeing fewer ads apart from anecdotal experiences.

Twitter singles NPR out with misleading state-backed media label

NPR’s Twitter account on the platform now comes with a tag denoting it as “US state-affiliated media.” But NPR doesn’t meet Twitter’s own definition for a state-affiliated account:

State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution…

State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy.

NPR later announced that it will no longer be posting content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform.

Twitter’s verification changes feel like an accidental April Fools’ joke

Musk had claimed that starting on April 1, blue checkmarks that previously indicated that an account was legitimate, verified and notable would be maintained only for those who have a subscription to Twitter Blue. The change would be part of a wider push for Twitter to gate previously free features, and bundle new ones, under the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription, which costs $11 on iOS and Android devices.

As numerous celebrities and businesses spoke out to say they wouldn’t pay the $8 fee, it appeared that removing so many blue checks would be easier said than done. Instead, Twitter merely updated the text accompanying a blue check to make it unclear whether someone was verified for being notable, or for paying for Twitter Blue. In an ultimate act of pettiness, Twitter removed The New York Times’ verification check when the news giant said it wouldn’t pay for verification.

Based on early returns, the revamped Twitter Blue has yet to contribute significantly to Twitter’s bottom line, with just $11 million generated from mobile signups in its first three months.

March 2023

Twitter announces new API tiers; free, basic and enterprise levels

The three API tiers include a free level meant for content posting bots, a $100/month basic level and a costly enterprise level. Subscribing to any level gets access to the Ads API at no additional cost. 

Twitter mentioned that over the next 30 days, the company will discontinue old access levels, including Standard (for v1.1), Essential and Elevated (for v2), and Premium.

Developers remain unhappy with Twitter’s new API structure.

Elon Musk says Twitter will only show verified accounts on its “For You” timeline starting April 15

Musk justified the move by saying this was the “only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over.”

New Twitter accounts now have to wait only 30 days to purchase Twitter Blue

Twitter decreases the wait to purchase Twitter Blue for newly created Twitter accounts from 90 days to 30 days.

“New subscriptions to Twitter Blue are available globally on web, iOS, or Android. Not all features are available on all platforms. Newly created Twitter accounts will not be able to subscribe to Twitter Blue for 30 days. We may also impose waiting periods for new accounts in the future at our discretion, and without notice,” the Twitter Blue page reads.

Twitter to kill ‘legacy’ blue checks on April 1

Twitter announced that the removal of legacy blue checkmarks will begin April 1 for users that are not subscribed to Twitter Blue.

Elon tweeted back in December that the company will remove legacy checkmarks “in a few months.” After that, users with legacy blue checks had been seeing a pop-up when they clicked on their checkmark, which read, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.” But once Twitter botched this removal of checkmarks, they changed the copy again — as of now, users cannot distinguish whether someone has a checkmark because they paid, or because they were deemed notable.

Twitter’s privacy-preserving Tor service goes dark

Twitter’s Tor service, a version of the site that could be accessed even in countries where the social network is banned, has gone dark after the company failed to renew its certificate, which expired on March 6.

Pavel Zoneff, director of strategic communications at the Tor Project, told TechCrunch that the site “is no longer available seemingly with no plans to renew.”

Twitter Blue is now available in more than 20 countries

This expansion makes the social network’s subscription service available in more than 35 countries across the world.

These countries include Netherlands, Poland, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Czech Republic, Finland, Denmark, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Croatia, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus.

February 2023

Layoffs continue

Twitter laid off more than 200 employees in its fourth round of cuts, including loyalist Esther Crawford — the chief executive of Twitter payments who oversaw the company’s Twitter Blue verification subscription.

Twitter’s staff is down from about 7,500 employees to less than 2,000 since Musk.

One of the numerous rounds of cuts eliminated the platform’s entire accessibility team. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) called on Elon Musk to bring the accessibility team back in an open letter. Markey requested a response by March 17.

Twitter allows cannabis ads in states where it’s legal

After updating its ad policy on February 15, Twitter became the first social media app in the U.S. to allow cannabis advertising. Cannabis ads will run on Twitter in U.S. states where cannabis is legal and in Canada.

Twitter delays launch of its new API platform…again

The initial date set to cut free access to Twitter’s API was February 9, which was then extended to February 13. Now, the social network has delayed the shutdown again, this time with no date set.

The delay jeopardizes the plans of developers and startups building tools around the Twitter API as they wouldn’t have any clarity on future spending and budget allocation on the developer platform.

Twitter’s basic tier of its API will cost $100 per month

The company originally planned to shut down free access to its API on February 9. Now it has extended this deadline to February 13. Twitter said that it will charge $100 per month for the basic tier of API. This will get developers access to a “low level of API usage,” as well as the Ads API.

When developers trying to seek clarity around the new API rules went to the developer forum website, they found that the site had been put behind a login. The forum was finally accessible four days later on February 13.

Twitter Blue introduces 4,000-character tweets

Twitter announced the ability to post longer tweets for paid users on February 8. Instead of being limited to 280 characters, paying Blue subscribers can post tweets that are up to 4,000 characters.

While only Twitter Blue subscribers can post long tweets, all users will be able to read them. You will see only the first 280 characters on the timeline, and if you want to read more, you can click on “Show more.”

Elon Musk claims Twitter will start sharing ad revenue with creators

Elon Musk announced in a tweet on February 3 that the company would soon begin sharing advertising revenue with creators on the platform for the first time. He follows up the announcement with a catch: Eligible users must be signed up for Twitter Blue.

Payouts have yet to reach creators’ wallets.

More monetization pushes: Twitter Blue expands new countries, brings back Spaces curation

Twitter Blue subscriptions are now available in Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, making it 12 regions in total to which users can subscribe to it as of February 2. On February 8, Twitter Blue extended services further to India, Indonesia and Brazil.

Twitter also announced launching a new Spaces tab with curated stations for live and recorded spaces, along with podcasts. The social network is making podcasts available only to Blue subscribers and “some people on Twitter for iOS and Twitter for Android apps.”

Twitter to end free access to its API

Twitter will discontinue offering free access to the Twitter API starting February 9 and will launch a paid version, Twitter said as it looks for more avenues to monetize the platform.

A week later and days before the February 9 deadline, Elon Musk said that after getting feedback from developers, Twitter will provide a write-only API for “bots providing good content that is free.”

Twitter discontinues CoTweets

Twitter announced February 1 that it is discontinuing CoTweeting, a feature that allowed two users to co-author a tweet. Users will be able to view the set of co-tweets for a month. After that, they will be automatically converted to retweets on the co-author’s profile.

Screenshot of Twitter's new policy in sunsetting CoTweets

January 2023

Twitter partners with DoubleVerify and IAS on brand safety initiative

Due to declining ad revenue and advertiser exits, Twitter announced on January 25 that it has teamed up with adtech companies DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) to tell advertisers if their ad is placed around inappropriate content. The program, available first for U.S.-based advertising campaigns, allows brands to analyze the content adjacent to — primarily tweets above and below the ad — all types of ads, including promoted tweets.

Twitter rolls out its bookmark feature on iOS

The new design displays the bookmark button under the expanded tweet view, making it easier to add a post to your bookmarks.

Before the change, you had to tap on the share button to open the sharing card and then tap on the bookmark option to save a tweet. In addition to the new button, as soon as you tap on the button, you will see a banner at the top of the screen that says “Show all bookmarks.”

The option is currently visible only on the iOS app, but we can expect that Twitter will roll this out to Android and the web soon.

Image Credits: Twitter

Twitter quietly bans third-party clients

After cutting off prominent app makers like Tweetbot and Twitterific, Twitter quietly updated its developer terms to ban third-party clients altogether on January 19.

The “restrictions” section of Twitter’s developer agreement was updated with a clause prohibiting “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.” Earlier in the week, Twitter said that it was “enforcing long-standing API rules” in disallowing clients access to its platform but didn’t cite which specific rules developers were violating.

As a result, third-party Twitter clients began offloading their apps from App Stores.

Twitter now offers an annual Blue subscription

Users now have a chance to get a discount for $84/year if they purchase an annual Blue subscription on the web.

Twitter Blue, including the new annual plan, is currently available in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

monthly and annual pricing for Twitter Blue for iOS and Web depending on country

Image Credits: Twitter

Twitter HQ furniture auctions

In a strange attempt to make money, Twitter is auctioning off surplus office furniture (auction is now closed) that it doesn’t need anymore, now that thousands of employees have either left the company or been laid off. When you’re rapidly losing advertisers and apparently not paying your rent, why not go for the hail mary?

Twitter makes algorithmic “For You” timeline the default

The company has tried to pull this stunt previously, only to give the option to switch back to a chronological timeline after a lot of backlashes.

What’s different this time? The Elon Musk-led company is now showing both algorithmic and chronological feeds side-by-side. Users can switch between them by swiping on their phone screens. Until now, users had to tap on the sparkle icon in the top-right corner to switch between the “Home” and “Latest” timelines. Twitter is justifying its latest change by saying that users can now easily swipe between the renamed “For You” and “Following” timelines.

  • January 13: Twitter rolled out the dual-timeline update to the web but at that time the social network used to remember your choice.
  • January 20: The company made the “For You” feed default on the web when users first opened Twitter in a tab or refreshed the page.
  • January 24: Now, Twitter remembers your choices again.
  • February 7: Twitter remembers your choices again on iOS and Android, too.

Twitter’s advanced search filters for mobile are said to be coming soon

According to social media analyst Matt Navarra, Twitter’s advanced search filters for mobile are coming soon.

Here’s what it looks like:

Twitter lifts the political ad ban to bolster revenue

The company originally enforced the ban back in 2019. At that time, it said that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.” Twitter charted a different path from other social networks like Facebook and Instagram, which allowed political ads.

Twitter’s announcement to lift the political ad ban comes at a time when advertisers have been pulling back spending on the platform, and the company has been cutting down its internal revenue projections.

December 2022

Twitter Blue users can now upload 60-minute videos

On December 23, Twitter updated the Twitter Blue page declaring that subscribers can now upload 60-minute videos from the web at 1080p resolution and 2GB in file size.

Twitter layoffs continue, impacting employees in public policy, engineering

According to posts on Twitter and LinkedIn from a former public policy employee on December 22, Twitter cut half of its public policy team.

Twitter also laid off some engineers in infrastructure via email on December 16. Across all of Twitter, it’s estimated that about 75% of employees have either chosen to leave or have been laid off since Elon Musk took ownership of the company in October.

Twitter now displays stock and cryptocurrency prices directly in search results

To access the new feature, users have to just type the dollar symbol followed by the relevant ticker symbol, e.g. “$GOOG” or “$ETH” (minus the quote marks), in the search bar and Twitter will display the current price. This also works without using the $ symbol in some instances, but it’s less consistent and doesn’t always return the stock or crypto prices as requested.

If someone wants to know more details about a stock or cryptocurrency, they can hit the “View on Robinhood” button.

Twitter now shows how many people view your tweets

A tweet’s View Count will be visible to everyone, not just the owner of the account.

“Twitter is rolling out View Count, so you can see how many times a tweet has been seen! This is normal for video,” Elon Musk wrote in a tweet. “Shows how much more alive Twitter is than it may seem, as over 90% of Twitter users read, but don’t tweet, reply or like, as those are public actions.”

Twitter Blue for Business now allows companies to identify their employees

Twitter’s product manager Esther Crawford said the social media platform is launching a pilot program for Blue for Business with select businesses. The company plans to expand this to more organizations next year.

Twitter goes on an account suspension spree, including prominent journalists

A day after Twitter crafted a new policy to explain its decision to ban an account that tracks Elon Musk’s private jet, Twitter also suspended its open source competitor Mastodon from the service.

Within the same day, Twitter suspended a number of prominent journalists on the platform without warning. “Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” Elon Musk tweeted in a reply about the journalists’ suspensions.

Twitter seemingly had a glitch that allowed banned users to still participate in Twitter Spaces. A group of the banned journalists started a group conversation on Spaces where Musk himself joined in. Shortly after, Twitter pulled its Spaces group audio feature temporarily.

Twitter shuts down Revue, its newsletter platform

Revue, the newsletter platform acquired by Twitter in January 2021, sent a message to newsletter writers on December 14 declaring, “We’ve made the difficult decision to shut down Revue.” Writers had until January 18, 2023 to retrieve their data before everything was deleted.

Twitter disperses the Trust & Safety Council

Twitter dispersed the advisory group consisting of roughly 100 independent researchers and human rights activists from around the world. The council members received an email on Monday, December 12 from Twitter saying that the Trust & Safety Council is “not the best structure” to get external insights into the company product and policy strategy.

Elon Musk says Twitter will remove all legacy verifications ‘in a few months’

Twitter will remove all legacy blue checkmarks “in a few months,” Elon Musk tweeted on December 12. Before Musk bought Twitter, checkmarks were used to verify individuals and entities as active, authentic and notable accounts of interest.

This past week, many blue checkmark holders have been seeing a pop-up when they click on their blue checkmark that reads, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”

Twitter Blue relaunches with new verification process, plus Blue for Business

Twitter is officially bringing back the Twitter Blue subscription on December 12, starting in five countries before rapidly expanding to others. Twitter updated its terms to specify that users will need to verify their phone numbers before purchasing the Twitter Blue subscription.

Web sign-ups will cost $8 per month and iOS sign ups will cost $11 per month for “access to subscriber-only features, including the blue checkmark,” per a tweet from the company account. Twitter Blue became available on Android at the same price as iOS in January 2023.

In addition to the relaunch of Twitter Blue, the company also began rolling out a new offering called Blue for Business that adds a gold checkmark to company accounts.

Twitter rolls out its Community Notes feature globally

Twitter announced Community Notes, previously known as Birdwatch, are now visible around the world. Community Notes is the social media giant’s crowdsourced fact-checking system.

Moderators who are part of the program can add notes to tweets to add context and users can then vote if they determine the context to be helpful. Prior to this global expansion, Community Notes were only visible to users in the U.S. Twitter added moderators from the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in January 2023.

Twitter announces charging $11 on iOS for Blue subscription to offset App Store fees

When Twitter launched its new subscription plan with a verification mark on November 9, it charged users $7.99 per month. In an attempt to offset App Store fees, Twitter is charging iOS users $11 for the new subscription plan — though the Twitter Blue plan is on halt.

November 2022

Twitter’s Community Notes updated to better address ‘low quality’ contributions

The platform’s crowdsourced fact-checking system, Community Notes, are notes written by Twitter users that are appended to tweets to provide further clarification and context.

The Community Notes algorithm change involves scoring notes where contributors explain why a tweet shouldn’t be deemed misleading.

Twitter announces a new multicolored verification system

Elon Musk announces that Twitter will tentatively roll out a new multicolored verification system where companies will get a gold checkmark, government officials will get a grey checkmark and the blue checkmark will be dedicated to individuals even if they are not celebrities. That means the blue checkmark will be used with legacy verified accounts and folks who buy Twitter’s proposed $8 per month paid plan.

If you’re confused about all the checkmarks, you’re not alone. Here’s a quick guide on what each checkmark and badge means on Twitter.

Twitter Blue verification chaos ensues

On November 9, Twitter CEO Elon Musk floated changes to Twitter’s system for verifying user accounts, including charging $8 per month for it. The social media company seemingly began rolling out a new tier of Twitter Blue, its premium subscription service. According to a tweet by Esther Crawford, a former product lead at Twitter, the new Twitter Blue plan wasn’t yet live, but some users saw notifications as part of a live test.

Twitter also launched grey-colored official checkmarks for notable accounts such as companies and politicians. But within hours of the launch, Elon Musk killed it. Crawford clarified that the grey “Official” labels are still going out as part of the new Twitter Blue product.

The new $8 Twitter Blue plan began rolling out to iOS users in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K with the only feature available at the time being the blue “verified” checkmark. This caused a number of fake accounts pretending to be celebrities, brands and otherwise influential people to create accounts and spread misinformation.

The Twitter exodus begins with mass layoffs and exits

Elon Musk laid off 3,700 people from Twitter on November 3, almost half its staff, shortly after completing the acquisition. Twitter was sued in a class action lawsuit in response to not giving employees advance notice of a mass layoff, alleging Twitter violated worker protection laws.

A week later, Twitter reached out to some former employees to return as they were laid off “by mistake.”

In addition to layoffs, a round of executive departures also swept through the company. In Musk’s first email to his new staff, he talked about ending remote work and making the fight against spam a priority.

October 2022

Elon Musk is revamping Twitter’s verification system

Twitter begins overhauling a new and more expensive version of Twitter Blue, the platform’s paid plan, that will reportedly cost $19.99 per month and give users a verified badge. At the time, Twitter Blue cost $4.99 per month in the U.S.

According to a report from The Verge, Twitter plans to remove verification badges from current holders if they don’t pay for Twitter Blue within 90 days of launching the new verification system.

Elon Musk officially owns Twitter

Elon Musk closed on his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on October 27, 2022. The deal came after months of legal drama, bad memes and will-they-or-won’t-they-chaos. After sealing the deal, Musk took Twitter private and began clearing house. On day one, he fired former CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett and head of Legal, Trust and Safety Vijaya Gadde.

Elon Musk’s Twitter: Everything you need to know, from layoffs to verification by Alyssa Stringer originally published on TechCrunch

Elon thinks AI could become humanity’s uber-nanny: excerpts from a dinner convo

After months of moving fast and breaking things at Twitter, Elon Musk’s been on a crash course of a different sort in the last several weeks, doing the rounds of interviews across a range of media events and with different media platforms (although TC’s invite may have gotten lost in the mail…).

Yesterday, it was the turn of the WSJ, which featured him as its headliner to close off the opening night dinner of their CEO Council conference in London. Dialing in over video, showing up late for his half hour slot, Musk then proceeded to talk for more than an hour about Twitter (or “X slash Twitter” as Musk tried to call it), AI, Mars and more.

The interview kicked off just minutes after it was announced that Musk would be interviewing Ron DeSantis on Wednesday (today) on Twitter’s Spaces audio streaming platform, and that DeSantis would be making, in Musk’s words, “quite an announcement” as part of it.

Everyone widely expects that announcement to be about DeSantis officially entering the race for U.S. President, which prompted Thorold Barker, WSJ’s EMEA editor, to ask Musk if he was endorsing DeSantis.

Musk avoided a direct yes or no answer, which speaks to something else about him: he likes to talk in circles and his strategy sometimes goes that way, too. Musk replied that he sees Twitter as a “town square,” where he wants everyone to participate. Yes, he wants to bring more audience to the platform at a time when so many appear to be running away; but he also wants to position Twitter as a new media platform in its own right.

Musk’s actions and words should sound extremely familiar. In fact, it often feels like he has spent a lot of time tearing apart the company only to land on an idea that is a repeat of what it was already trying to do: build a media company, which he is now doing — complete with a new CEO with advertising chops who he’s poached from a media company, a strategy to court advertisers, and build entertaining content.

“Ranging from the left, moderate, to what’s considered right… I do think it’s important that Twitter be about the reality and the perception of a level playing field, a place where all voices are heard, and where there’s the kind of dynamic interaction that you don’t really see anywhere else,” he said. “I mean, today on Twitter, for example, AOC and Ted Cruz got into an argument, which was, independent of which side you agree with, very entertaining.” (Cue audience laughter.) “I [would] really just like someone fairly normal and sensible to be the President,” he added later, to more chuckling from the audience.

For Musk, the Twitter story he wants to tell — or at least hopes to sell — is that Twitter is on the return path from the layoffs, internal restructuring, and big changes. And that it’s entertaining.

It’s hard to know how close that story is to reality at this point.

In the meantime, and before investors run out of patience, Musk remains quite exasperating and compelling in equal measure. As Musk’s half hour conversation stretched to more than one hour, he ranged from talking about ambitions to make Mars a self-sustaining civilization through to who might succeed him at any of his companies; the political situation in China through to the future of humanity.

There aren’t many people who would be asked this range of questions in one sitting, and even fewer who would be interested to hear their answers. Yet that’s what you get with this guy. Here’s a selection of excerpts from the conversation:

Musk says he has only one part-time assistant. 

To an audience of CEOs and other executives “scheduled within an inch of their lives,” as Barker put it, Elon described the chaos of being at the helm of three different companies, Twitter, SpaceX and Tesla. (No wonder he dreams about building X, an everything app: it could help compress some of the work and things he has to oversee.)

“My days are very long and complicated, as you might imagine, and there’s this great deal of context switching… Switching context is is quite painful. But I do generally try to divide companies so it’s predominantly one company on one day, so today’s a Tesla day for example, although I might end up at Twitter late tonight… Time management is extremely difficult. And this is going to sound pretty strange but I I only have one part time assistant… but I do most of the scheduling myself. And the reason is because it’s impossible for someone else to know what the priorities are. So since the most valuable thing I have is time, I schedule it myself.”

Musk believes civilization is less robust than people assume, and that AI might accelerate its destruction. 

For someone who is time poor, it’s interesting how bearish Musk has come out on AI. He touts the AI built inside Tesla as the best in the world, and he was an early parter at OpenAI, but he’s not a fan it seems of artificial general intelligence, not least because it’s coming and seems to be out of control. “I think that that is it’s unnecessary for everything, but it is happening and happening very quickly. There is a risk that advanced AI either eliminates or constrains humanity’s growth.”

But don’t take any of that too seriously! Much later in the same conversation he contradicted himself to say, “I don’t think AI is going to try to destroy humanity, but it might put us under strict controls,” describing a scenario of “AI assuming control for the safety of all the humans and taking over all the computing systems and weapon systems of Earth and effectively being like some sort of uber-nanny.”

Musk claims that Twitter has gotten rid of hate speech and 90% of the “scam and spam entrepreneurs” on its platform, which will make it more attractive to advertisers. 

The pair touched lightly on Musk’s “courtship” of Linda Yaccarino, who was named as Twitter’s new CEO last week (she has yet to step into the job). It sounded like their interaction first started as a conversation about advertising, but Musk didn’t get into the specifics of how, and when, that turned into a recruitment exercise. Instead, he shifted direction to talk about how the company’s ailing ads business is coming out of rehab.

“Linda, felt that it would be very helpful for advertisers to see me in person so invited me down to a conference in Miami, which was very helpful,” he said of his appearance on stage with Yaccarino several weeks before he named her CEO.

He said there, he “met with a number of advertisers personally to assure and show them that Twitter is a good place to advertise.”

He claimed that “hate speech has declined” and that “the quality of the system, especially with respect to scammers and spammers, is dramatically better than it used to be… We’ve gotten rid of, at this point, well over 90% of scam and spam entrepreneurs. It should be quite rare at this point that you see a scam.”

He also said that its figured out how to shut down bot farms, presumably in aid of improving authentic sentiment on the platform, although he didn’t spell out why these exactly were a problem for advertisers, if for example they were brigading in favor of a brand?

He says that he and the new CEO will work together over moderation.

Musk has been quite outspoken before about free speech, and specifically him saying what he wants to say, which doesn’t sound like it will change going forward. While “the general principle is that will hew close to the law. So for any given country, we will try to adhere as close to to law as possible,” the company is working on “adjacency controls that ensure that “if you’re Disney for example…the content nearby [will be] family friendly. That’s totally understandable.

MDAU wasn’t a great metric.

The problem with “monetizable daily active users,” Twitter’s self-defined metric that it adopted when still a public company to describe its audience and how it was growing, was, Musk said, that “a bunch of those users… would see a notification on their phone, about a tweet, but they wouldn’t actually click through to the site. Certainly what really matters is true user seconds of screen time.” That is what the company tracks now, he said. “That’s based on the screen time as reported to us by iOS, Android and the browser.” He says the feedback from advertisers for this measurement has been positive.

Is there a limit on free speech — at least Elon’s free speech?

The topic of George Soros came up, specifically Musk’s characterization of him and the huge amount of outcry and argument that it generated. Elon really does not feel he should be reined in.

“I’m not going to mitigate what I say because that would be inhibiting for your freedom of speech. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with what I say… The point is to have a divergent set of views. Free speech is only relevant if it’s speech by someone you don’t like. Is that allowed? If so, you have free speech. Otherwise you do not. And for those who would advocate censorship, I would say it is … only a matter of time before the censor gets turned on you.” Easy to say, harder to see played out.

Twitter will be hiring again.

The conversation then veered into a totally different area, to the subject of Twitter staffing — unspoken questions about moderation and who is left to handle it being possibly the bridge here? With the company now down to about 1,500 employees from the 7,500+ it had when he took over last year, there are indeed a lot of questions about how it can recover, build and grow. There will be more people added, he said, not least if it plans to revive that advertising business and court big advertisers. Oh, and build that “everything” app.

“We are going to start adding people to the company, and we have started adding some number of people to the company,” he said. “And, but it’s still there’s still a lot of change to have to happen. So but I think 1,500 is probably a reasonable number.”

On Twitter’s valuation.

“All’s well that ends well,” was his short answer to whether he regretted buying Twitter. On the ambition/projection that the company could be worth $250 billion after he bought it for $44 billion, he described Twitter as “on the comeback arc.” He didn’t have an answer for whether Twitter could go public again, nor whether it would even stay headquartered in San Francisco.

Content moderation: bad; AI regulation: good

Musk is okay with people speaking their minds, but he is less okay with AI doing the same.

“I’ve been pushing hard for a long time and met with a number of senior senators and congressmen, people in Congress in the White House to advocate for AI regulation, starting with an inside committee that is formed of independent parties as well as perhaps just bids from the leaders in industry,” he noted.

One area that he’s particularly concerned with is the presence of AI in social media. On the subject of the weaponizing of AI, “the pen is mightier than the sword. So one of the first places where to be careful of AI being used is in social media, to manipulate public opinion.”

He said this was one of the reasons he wants to turn Twitter into primarily a subscriber-based system, is “because it is dramatically harder to create,” and thus more unlikely that it would not be an authentic person, or so the thinking goes. “It’s like a 10,000 times harder to create an account that has a verified phone number from a credible carrier that has a credit card and that pays a small amount of money per month. And have those credit cards and phone numbers be highly distributed, not clustered, incredibly difficult. So whereas the past someone could create a million fake accounts for a penny apiece and then manipulate or have something appear to be very, very much liked by the public when in fact it is not, or promoted and retweeted, when in fact it is not. Popularity is not real, it’s essentially gaming the system.

“So the bias towards a subscription based verification, I think, is very powerful. And that really, you won’t be able to trust any social media company that does not do this, because it will simply be overrun with bots to such an extreme extreme degree.”

Elon thinks AI could become humanity’s uber-nanny: excerpts from a dinner convo by Ingrid Lunden originally published on TechCrunch

Fake Pentagon attack hoax shows perils of Twitter’s paid verification

Surprising literally no one, the combination of paid blue checks and generative AI makes it all too easy to spread misinformation. On Monday morning, a seemingly AI-generated image of an explosion at the Pentagon circulated around the internet, even though the event didn’t actually happen.

Within about half an hour, the image appeared on a verified Twitter account called “Bloomberg Feed,” which could very easily be mistaken for a real Bloomberg-affiliated account, especially since it had a blue check. That account has since been suspended. The Russian state-controlled news network RT also shared the image, according to screenshots that users captured before the tweet was deleted. Several Twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers, like DeItaone, OSINTdefender and Whale Chart shared it. Even an Indian television network reported the fake Pentagon explosion. It is not immediately clear where this fake image and news story originated.

This is far from the first time that a fake image has successfully tricked the internet, but the stakes are higher when the fake event is an explosion at a U.S. government building, rather than the Pope wearing a Balenciaga coat. Some have reported that the fake image could be tied to a 25 basis point movement of the S&P 500, but the dip didn’t last long, and there’s no way to prove that it was a entirely result of this hoax. The incident does beg the question of how generative AI could be used to game the stock market in the future — after all, Reddit did it.

Misinformation is an issue as old as the internet, but the simultaneous growth of generative AI and change in Twitter’s verification system makes for especially fertile ground. From the get-go, Twitter owner Elon Musk’s plan to strip existing blue checks of their status and let anyone pay for the symbol has been a mess. Even if we know that blue checks no longer indicate legitimacy, it’s hard to break a visual habit you’ve cultivated for almost fifteen years: if you see an account called “Bloomberg Feed” that has a blue check posting about an attack on the Pentagon, you’re probably predisposed to think it’s real. As it gets more and more difficult to spot fake images, we’ll only continue seeing false news reports like this in the future.

Fake Pentagon attack hoax shows perils of Twitter’s paid verification by Amanda Silberling originally published on TechCrunch

Everything we know about Instagram’s Twitter clone, due this summer

While the future remains uncertain for Twitter, Meta is throwing its hat into the ring to build the next major microblogging platform. This new Meta app is expected to launch this summer, according to an email shared with a select group of creators, and viewed by TechCrunch.

This text-based app will stand alone, but it will be partially integrated within Instagram. Users will keep their Instagram verification and handle, and all of their followers will receive a notification to go follow them on the to-be-named platform. Meta’s text-based platform will be decentralized and interoperable with Mastodon, which is built on the ActivityPub protocol.

Meta wants to onboard high-profile public figures to get early access, like athletes, actors, producers, showrunners and comedians. In its note to these creators, Meta conceded that Mastodon, Bluesky and other apps have had a head start in the race to build the next Twitter. But the company pointed out that it has the advantage of access to billions of users through its family of apps, which includes Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger.

This new decentralized app is codenamed P92 or Barcelona, as first reported by MoneyControl. Meta has been quiet about these developments, but said in a statement to Money Control: “We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

According to Lia Haberman, author of social media newsletter ICYMI, the app will use the same community guidelines as Instagram. Similarly, users will be able to log-in with their Instagram credentials, blocks and hidden words from Instagram will carry over, and some safety features will be embedded at the get-go, like two-factor authentication and spam reporting. Haberman’s sources also informed her that text posts will be up to 500 characters, and users can also upload photos, links and videos up to five minutes long. Like Twitter and other competitor apps, there will be a feed where you can like, reply or repost content.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra received this same information, which he had shared in a tweet posted earlier this month.

Meta declined TechCrunch’s request for further comment, but did not dispute the accuracy of the leaked information.

The market is ripe for new Twitter alternatives, though after migrating to a multitude of platforms, some users might be a bit fatigued by the prospect of setting up yet another new account. Like any company, when Meta releases new apps and experiences, they don’t always take off. In the past few years, it has sunsetted products like the anonymous teen app tbhCameo-like app SuperNextdoor clone Neighborhoodscouples app Tunedstudent-focused social network Campusvideo dating service Sparked and more.

Everything we know about Instagram’s Twitter clone, due this summer by Amanda Silberling originally published on TechCrunch

Twitter now allows paid users to upload two-hour long videos

Twitter has made changes to its paid plan allowing subscribers to upload two-hour-long videos — expanding the previous 60-minute limit.

The company also modified its Twitter Blue page and said the video file size limit for paid users is now increased from 2GB to 8 GB. While earlier longer video upload was only possible from the web, now it’s also possible through the iOS app. Despite these changes, the maximum quality for upload still remains 1080p.

Under Elon Musk, the social network started making moves to facilitate lengthy video uploads and consumption. The company launched the long video upload feature last December and recently added new playback speed controls on the web as well.

Taking advantage of the long video upload feature shows like the All In Podcast have started uploading their episodes on Twitter. Additionally, after being fired from Fox News, Tucker Carlson has said that he will start a new show on the social media platform.

Musk has expressed his desire to build an “everything app” out of Twitter many times and compete with platforms like YouTube. For that, he has rolled out many creator-focused tools including raising the character limit to 10,000 for paid users, introducing support for text formatting, and relaunching Super Follows as Subscriptions.

Last week, the company underwent a major management change appointing NBCU’s Linda Yaccarino as CEO. At the time of the announcement, Musk said he will stay on as chairman and assume responsibilities like “CTO, overseeing product, software & sysops.”

Twitter is also facing competitors from various alternative social networks like Mastodon, Bluesky, and Post.News. A recent study from Pew suggested that 60% of U.S. Twitter users took a break from the platform for several weeks in the past year.

Twitter now allows paid users to upload two-hour long videos by Ivan Mehta originally published on TechCrunch