Twitter CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted a new plan to fight bots on the microblogging site, but his solution drew the ire of tweeps.
Earlier today, Musk tweeted that from April 15, only verified subscribers will have posts recommended to other users and be allowed to vote in polls.
“Starting April 15, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations,” tweeted Musk.
This essentially means that only Twitter Blue subscribers, who pay to get the verification blue checkmark, will have the “For You” feed, which suggests tweets that a user might like, from accounts they do not follow, based on their user activity.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, stated that he believes it is the only way to allow real accounts to stay active on the platform and keep the advanced AI bots away.
“This is the only realistic way to address advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) bot swarms taking over,” he wrote in the tweet on March 28.
Twitter bots are automated Twitter accounts that are controlled using bot software. They are programmed to perform tasks that resemble human activity on Twitter — such as liking tweets and following other users.
These social media bots have been used to do nefarious things like spreading fake news, trolling, and propagating misinformation for purposes that include spinning elections, inciting panic, and spreading malware.
Musk said the move would help control bots on Twitter, calling the issue an “otherwise a hopeless losing battle”.
How will it affect users?
Twitter functions on two algorithms. One is the ‘For you’ stream of recommended tweets and the other is a stream of tweets from people you follow.
So, Musk's new policy will preclude unverified (non-paying) users from taking part in one of those streams.
It means that unverified Twitter users will be far less likely to have their tweets liked or retweeted.
The Twitter Blue Annual Plan in the UAE costs Dh309 per year and the monthly plan costs Dh29 per month.
The announcement also mentioned that only those who will subscribe to Twitter Blue would be allowed to participate in polls held on Twitter.
“Voting in polls will require verification for the same reason,” tweeted @elonmusk on March 28.
Many tweeps are unhappy with Musk’s announcement. Some said this could be a dangerous decision for Twitter.
Twitter user @videotech_ replied: “I don't get behind this decision. You need 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.”
To which, Musk replied: “My prediction is that this will be the only platform you can trust."
Another tweep, @CuteMonsterDad wrote: “You won't have verified accounts. You're referring to Monthly Twitter Blue Subscribers who receive a blue check if they pay the monthly fee. No ID verification is involved. Just payment confirmation. That won't bring back advertisers or much meaningful revenue.”
And, @HappyWarriorP posted: “I get why you don't want to suggest accounts that may be bots, suggested has always been a weird feature. But polls… everyone uses polls, no one takes them seriously, making it verified only will not increase membership and will only make the feature redundant in my opinion.”
A Twitter Blue subscriber, @benekcj, analysed why this was not an optimal solution. He wrote: “I am fine to pay. I am a subscriber to Blue. But your proposal doesn’t fix the actual verification of identity. On day one you will see fake accounts of public figures trying to scam people. Not addressing this (which legacy verification attempts to do - and succeeds at partially) will hurt the platform. Some of us really value Twitter. I hope you’ll both hear and address our concerns and protect the people we serve and love.”
Last week, the firm also said it would remove the verified status of some "legacy" accounts, which date from before Musk acquired ownership of Twitter last year for $44 billion.
However, some users said are happy that the verified mark is now available to every user.
@SubterraneanSu2 posted: “So glad the blue checkmark is available to everyone now and not just people who think they are better than everyone else.”