Twitter Inc. suspended the $8 subscription program it launched earlier this week to combat a growing problem of users impersonating major brands, a person familiar with the move said.
Existing subscribers will still have access to their account, said the person who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The move was reported earlier by the website Platformer.
The company has also reinstated “official” badges for high-profile accounts, with the gray badge reappearing below the profiles of businesses and major media outlets Friday based on an internal approved list, according to the person.
The identification marker was rolled out earlier this week before being scrapped.
Twitter is struggling with impostor accounts since the company allowed paying subscribers to get verified blue check marks.
One account claiming as pharma giant Eli Lilly & Co. tweeted that insulin was now free forcing the company to issue an apology.
Also a purported Tesla Inc. account joked about the carmaker’s safety record.
“To combat impersonation, we’ve added an ‘Official’ label to some accounts,” Twitter Support tweeted on Friday.
Elon Musk tweeted the same day that all accounts engaged in parody must include “parody” in their name.
The world’s wealthiest man, who acquired Twitter last month for $44 billion, is facing a slew of challenges as top advertisers pull back from the platform amid concern over the company’s ability to tackle impostors and hate speech.
Musk, who has also seen resignations among his leadership team, said this week in his first address to employees that the company could face bankruptcy, Bloomberg News previously reported.
In the days since the SpaceX and Tesla Chief Executive Officer took charge, Musk has ordered thousands of job cuts and changed a string of central policies at San Francisco-based Twitter.
There have also been senior voluntary departures: Since Wednesday, Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner, Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran and Chief Compliance Officer Marianne Fogarty have resigned.
In a rare intervention on Thursday, the US Federal Trade Commission said that it was tracking developments with “deep concern” and said that “no CEO or company is above the law.”
The FTC regulates how Twitter handles user data and has been overseeing the company’s privacy and data security compliance since it put the company under a consent order in 2011, which requires Twitter to submit to independent audits every other year.
Under Musk’s ownership, Twitter is subject to FTC oversight until at least 2042, meaning that any new products or changes to privacy and data policies are subject to the agency’s scrutiny.
“All of this is extremely dangerous for our users,” a Twitter employee said in a Slack message viewed by Bloomberg. Their identity is not known to Bloomberg. “Also, given that the FTC can (and will!) fine Twitter BILLIONS of dollars pursuant to the FTC Consent Order, extremely detrimental to Twitter’s longevity as a platform. Our users deserve so much better than this.”
“In light of the coverage over the last 24 hours about the departure of senior staff, including the data protection officer, we want to establish with Twitter that they are going to be continuing to make decisions from their Irish office,” Graham Doyle, deputy commissioner at the authority of Irish Data Protection Commission , told Bloomberg by phone. Europe’s GDPR rules state companies must have a data protection officer.
UK business minister Grant Shapps told the Prospect union he’d been following Twitter job cuts closely and that he’d write to the company “to seek reassurance that they will be following all relevant statutory requirements.”