Twitter CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the free blue ticks given to official or celebrity accounts before his $44 billion takeover of the social media platform will be removed by next week, after previously promising an earlier removal.
During a BBC interview on Wednesday that was also broadcast via Twitter Spaces, Mr. Musk discussed his takeover of Twitter, denied rising levels of hate speech on the platform, and spoke about labelling news organisations like the BBC as government-funded. He said it has been “quite a rollercoaster” and acknowledged “many mistakes” along the way
Mr. Musk had said earlier that legacy blue ticks would be taken away from April 1, but then changed the blue tick description to conceal which users were Twitter Blue subscribers and which users had been verified for free (before his takeover).
The Twitter chief also confirmed that the company currently employed 1,500 people, down from under 8,000 when he took over the firm. He admitted that he was unable to fire many people in person, and that he had been forced to buy the company. When he bought the platform, it had a $3 billion negative cash flow and about four months to stay alive, he said.
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On the subject of news publications, Mr. Musk expressed his respect for the BBC and said the ‘government funded media’ tag would be updated to reflect that the BBC was publicly funded. However, he hit back at publications like The New York Times that said it would not pay for verification marks.
He said he would change the designation on the BBC’s Twitter handle after the broadcaster objected.
“We want it as truthful and accurate as possible — we’re adjusting the label to ‘publicly funded’,” Mr. Musk said.
Mr. Musk further rejected accusations of hate speech rising on Twitter since his takeover.
The Hindu reached out to Twitter to learn its approach to handling hate speech, but received an automated response with an emoji.
Mr. Musk also claimed that Twitter usage was up and that there was growth. He said advertisers were returning to the site, but did not name specific companies.