The new owner of Twitter, South African billionaire Elon Musk, has seen his investment in the social media company reduce in value due to a loss of advertisers, and now, he’s looking to lose the support of media groups like The New York Times, National Public Radio, and even the BBC. Musk accused the Times of bias, and referred to NPR as “U.S. state-affiliated media” (although he later amended that to “government media”) rather than “public media.” Many expect that Musk will soon say the same thing about the BBC. Under the harsher “government media” label, Musk is putting NPR at par with Russia’s RT network and China’s Xinhua News Agency. For this reason, NPR has deactivated its Twitter accounts.

Criticism is also coming from Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey, who said that “it all went south” when the company was sold to Musk in 2022.

Since Musk took over Twitter in October, he fired 6,500 employees (keeping just 1,500), but kept it operating with $6 billion in annual expenses, including $1.5 billion in debt servicing. At the same time, he created a new company name for Twitter, X Corp., merging Twitter Inc. into X Corp., a privately held company incorporated in Nevada.

On April 20, Twitter moved to boost profits by removing the blue check marks from accounts and charging $8 a month to users who wished to buy a Twitter Blue subscription to retain their verified status.

Twitter introduced verified check mark accounts in 2009 and they quickly became a social media marker of prestige. Up until recently the platform didn’t charge for the authenticity marks, which prevented others from impersonating high-profile users.

Twitter’s attempt to implement a paid account verification service has attracted imposters spreading misinformation, which could lead major brands to pull back even further from the social media site.

Musk’s latest initiative was met with a wave of imposter accounts sharing harmful misinformation. Some organizations stopped using Twitter, including the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which has 1.3 million followers. The MTA said it “does not pay tech platforms” and would stop tweeting service alerts and information. “The reliability of (Twitter) can no longer be guaranteed,” the MTA said in a statement. However, the MTA reported that it would resume posting service alerts on Twitter after the social media service announced exceptions that would allow government and public service accounts to use the service for free.

For years, Twitter’s check marks gave users confidence that an account was legitimate. Without this verification, users have to do much more heavy lifting to try to ascertain whether an account really belongs to someone.

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