Musk’s Battle Against The Bots: Twitter Boss Redefines Blue-Ticks

It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence is increasingly modifying current technological times as well as posing threats to its future. But, as usual, Elon Musk is at the forefront of efforts in proposing solutions to this imminent risk. 

In a recent tweet, Mr Musk declared his latest move for the social media platform Twitter. 

From April 15th, the only recommended posts you will be able to see and the only votes that will appear in polls will be from verified subscribers. 

Verified subscribers, recognisable by their blue tick, are users who currently pay $8 a month for verification, allowing them access to additional Twitter features.

This new policy will not only go one step further in singling out verified customers from non-paying users, but Mr Musk also hopes that by allowing only verified subscribers to vote in polls and put out recommended tweets, the threat of AI on the platform will be limited.

So, How Will This Change Limit The Threat Of AI Bots?

The Twitter boss hopes that the requirement of paid verification to put out recommended tweets and vote in polls will notably increase the cost of using AI bots. This may help to deter their presence and make the bots easier to identify. 

In his tweet, Mr Musk explained that this was “the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.” 

“Voting in polls will require verification for the same reason,” he added.

Musk’s Move To Make Money?

Although Mr Musk has stated that this move is purely strategic to deteriorate the risk of AI bots, this hasn’t hushed criticism that the policy has ulterior motives.  

Musk turned towards a subscription-based model to increase Twitter’s revenue when the platform’s new boss took over. The blue tick was up for sale to anybody who wanted access to Twitter’s additional, more exclusive features.

Unfortunately for Musk, it seems not many people were too interested in this new pay-to-use structure. The move got met with mixed criticism in the press. Not only did it stir up chaos as blue tick imposters ran amok on the site, but publications like Quartz slammed Musk for fundamentally misunderstanding “the point of verification, the motivations of Twitter’s power users, and how to run an ad-supported platform.

In response to the relatively unimpressed reaction that met with his idea to market blue ticks, could it be that Musk decided to deploy this new policy to increase dwindling profits under the disguise of defending the platform from AI bots? 

It’s certainly difficult to disagree that this new policy will substantially exclude non-paying users from parts of the social medial platform. Although it will still be possible for non-verified users to have their tweets circulated, anybody who wishes to be heard by the masses on the site or have their opinion counted in the polls will now need to pay to be heard.

An Uneven Playing Ground For Free Speech

The new policy will make it so that unverified users will struggle to have their tweets widely seen and retweeted and, somehow, this can’t help but feel like a slight U-turn from Musk’s initial lofty promises to democratise and equalise the platform.

When Musk acquired Twitter in 2022 he stated that he had major plans of promoting free speech on the platform. He would continue to do this by, among other things, reactivating accounts such as that of Kanye West and Donald Trump that were suspended for failing to keep to Twitter’s old rules of conduct. 

This new policy seems to stray from previous promises to make Twitter a place where everyone (even people society has deemed more controversial) can be heard.

One Twitter user argued that they thought this change “will reduce meaningful engagement overall” on the site and that it will push more people away from wanting to make contributions to the app. 

Musk promised increased free speech on the platform, but is speech truly free if users need to pay to be heard?  

Reactions To The Blue Tick Shake Up 

Needless to say, not everyone understands Musk’s latest move. 

One user wrote: “So you’ve gone from ‘kill the bots and save Twitter’ to ‘bots can stay, let’s move them to the paid plan’?”

Another user questioned the effectiveness of the plan, stating in response to Musk’s promise that the requirement of paid verification will eliminate the chance of bots, “That’s the core thing bots are made to do. Impersonate people.”

Further confusion came from Musk’s following tweet which clarified “it’s okay to have verified bot accounts if they follow terms of service & don’t impersonate a human” – a statement which can’t help but leave confusion after Musk promised his latest policy would keep Twitter safe from humanities “losing battle” against AI bots altogether.