Twitter is facing one of its first obstacles in the age of CEO Elon Musk, and it is one of his design. On Saturday, Twitter launched its new $8 monthly subscription where users who pay will see the once coveted blue verification check mark next to their name.
On Apple iOS updated devices, Twitter informed its users they can get a blue checkmark “just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow” if they subscribe to Twitter Blue.
Within hours of the launch, Twitter faced a tsunami of celebrity and corporate impersonators. CNN reports that Twitter has already suspended multiple accounts for impersonation after users reported verified activity unusual for the individuals or companies with the blue check.
Accounts impersonating basketball player LeBron James, Nintendo America, and former President Donald Trump are just a few examples of accounts that were suspended.
Musk, the world’s richest man, purchased Twitter on Oct. 27 in a $44 billion deal. Following the acquisition, Musk began making extensive changes to the company, firing about half of its staff, dissolving its board of directors, and establishing the new Twitter verification system.
After multiple celebrities, comedians, and high-profile verified accounts began to change their names and image to resemble Musk over the weekend, he called for an immediate crackdown on parody accounts.
On Sunday, Musk said accounts participating in parody content or impersonation without a clear parody label would be banned permanently. Sunday’s statement reverses Musk’s comments about the possible reinstatement of Trump’s account, stating no account should be banned for life.
“Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning,” Musk tweeted. “Any name change at all will cause temporary loss of verified checkmark.”
Before implementing Twitter Blue, blue check marks were a way to verify accounts belonging to celebrities, companies, and politicians to combat misinformation. Twitter also gives blue checks to journalists, regardless of the size of their following. Before Elon purchased the company, Twitter had around 423,000 verified accounts, most of which belonged to journalists, as reported by Time.
Musk said the Twitter Blue system would “democratize journalism” and restated his commitment to free speech in a series of tweets on Sunday.
Musk fought with advertisers on Wednesday during a Twitter Spaces event. Advertisers are concerned about the spread of disinformation through Twitter Blue. Musk said it was not a problem, and people wanting to cause harm on the site through Twitter Blue would eventually run out of credit cards and phone numbers to create accounts.
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Trust and Safety, said on Wednesday that Twitter is working to reduce the amount of hateful conduct that spiked on Oct. 28.
Roth said there had been measurable progress in removing accounts that make hateful content and dampening the number of interactions they receive.