In about two weeks, the “For You” feed on Twitter will turn blue – blue check, that is.
Twitter boss Elon Musk said late Monday that starting April 15, the platform’s algorithmic “For You” discovery feed will only feature “verified” Twitter Blue accounts, which is itself a feature all accounts will have to pay for beginning April 1.
The feed first appeared in January, and shows users popular tweets from accounts that they don’t necessarily follow. There is also a separate feed that shows only the accounts the user follows.
The announcement followed a post last week that said that the platform plans to strip “legacy” verified accounts of their blue checks. Those accounts were granted the badge before Musk launched Twitter Blue and started charging $8 per month — later reduced to $7 — to have the mark next to a name and handle.
The “blue check” was created in 2009 to authenticate accounts used by celebrities, politicians, companies, news organizations and journalists. There was no charge for the check until Musk put a price tag on them in November, only to see the site flooded with parody accounts before the system was revamped.
Musk said in his post on the latest changes that allowing only verified accounts in the recommendations feed “is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.”
“Voting in polls will require verification for same reason,” Musk said.
“That said,” he added, “it’s ok to have verified bot accounts if they follow terms of service & don’t impersonate a human.”
The ubiquity of bots on the platform was a major point of contention between the former Twitter leadership and Musk before he bought the company in October.
One user who questioned the decision charged that Twitter instead needs to “invest money into talent and AI tech to detect bots on the platform. This isn’t the way to go. It could tarnish the platform.”
“My prediction is that this will be the only platform you can trust,” Musk replied.
Charging for checks also provides Twitter with a much-needed revenue stream. Musk has claimed the company was months away from running out of money in the months after he bought it for $44 million. It’s now worth about $20 billion, he told staff last week.
On Sunday, Musk mused in a post that, “Given that modern AI can solve any “prove you’re not a robot” tests, it’s now trivial to spin up 100k human-like bots for less than a penny per account.”
“Paid verification increases bot cost by ~10,000% & makes it much easier to identify bots,” he continued. “Obvious conclusion: paid account social media will be the only social media that matters.”