- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Elon Musk is overhauling Twitter’s verification process and recommendation algorithm so that paying users will carry blue checkmark badges and have their tweets amplified in the “For You” column. 

The floated changes from Twitter’s owner mean users are likely to encounter more content from sources they may not follow on the platform via its “For You” column, while the “Following” tab is expected to display content from people a given user chooses to follow. 

“Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations,” Mr. Musk tweeted Monday night. “The [sic] is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.” 

Twitter previously announced that it intended to start removing users’ blue checkmarks on April 1 unless they were paying subscribers. The blue badges formerly served as symbols conveying authenticity or authority on Twitter, but they will soon identify people who paid for Twitter’s subscription service. 

The paid service costs $8 a month for U.S. web users and $11 a month for users on mobile operating systems, according to the company’s website. 

Twitter experimented with different methods of providing content to its users and settled on the option of swiping between “For You” and “Following” tabs in January.

The “For You” tab displays comments recommended for a user, while the “Following” tab is intended to chronologically organize content from people a user follows.  

The shift Mr. Musk proposed Monday means that Twitter’s decision-making about how it elevates users’ content may become less focused on what the company views as favorable or objectionable and more focused on people who pay to use Twitter. 

Mr. Musk also said on Monday that voting in online polls on Twitter would soon require verification because of concerns about bots flooding the results. 

The billionaire owner previously expressed a willingness to allow only paying users to help chart company policy via polls on the platform after the majority of voters sought to see him ousted from Twitter’s leadership last year. 

Mr. Musk published a poll in December asking if he should step down from Twitter and said he would abide by the results. The majority of the 17.5 million users who voted, 57%, voted for him to leave the company’s leadership. 

Mr. Musk said he did not intend to totally eliminate bot accounts, however. 

“That said, it’s ok to have verified bot accounts if they follow terms of service & don’t impersonate a human,” he tweeted. 

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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