We know a little more about Elon Musk’s negotiating skills… After acquiring the social network Twitter, after a long soap opera, for the sum of 44 million dollars, the billionaire founder of SpaceX indicated that he wanted to put set up a paid certification, for 20 dollars per month. Officially to give “power to the people”, contrary to the current system which he sees as that of “lords and peasants”, unofficially a good way to “pay the bills”. The protests were quick to fuse, and it was by responding to the author Stephen King that Elon Musk proposed, publicly on his social network, to reduce this price to 8 dollars.
It’s in the bag ? Not so simple, because the native of Pretoria not only wants to set up this new system as soon as possible, but also to couple it to a new algorithm, intended to highlight the content of these premium tweeters. So who will be the certified of tomorrow? What will our Twitter feed look like? Is this the end of the blue bird network as we know it and can we expect a leak of subscribers? 20 minutes make the point.
Can we see certified trolls and public figures abandon their authentication?
For the oldest users of the platform, the little blue badge no longer necessarily has the meaning it may have had in the past. Originally, “these badges were reserved for the media and journalists”, recalls Emmanuelle Patry, founder of Social Media Lab, in order to highlight verified sources of information. In 2016, the platform opened an “application process”, and realized “that a lot of people needed it”, explains to 20 minutes Anuchika Stanislaus, specialist in digital public policy issues. The social network then embarked on a “long-term work” on the categorization of accounts, between government institutions, brands, entertainment personalities, etc.
Today, Elon Musk “destroys everything”, she denounces. In the name of “power to the people”, the overhaul can even prove dangerous. “A subscription at 8 dollars per month is not a basic necessity”, estimates Emmanuelle Patry, who fears that “it is not the right people who are buying”. According to her, “the risk of scam is very high, because when you see a certified account, you have more confidence”. And even if Elon Musk sees it as a way to fight against bots and fake profiles, this new badge raises questions.
“There will be an informational chaos, because the signs that allow the user to have certainties will disappear”, warns Anuchika Stanislaus. According to her, “it will take a little money to hijack the badge”, and thus end up with media and certified conspiratorial influencers. At the same time, the question of paying to keep your badge “will be a subject in each editorial office”, warns Emmanuelle Patry, in particular to find out who, from the journalist or the media, supports this bill. Suffice to say that the guarantee of authenticity, transparency and seriousness of the badge should be forgotten.
Featured certified content, videos… What will our Twitter feed look like?
To the new certification badge, Elon Musk wants to add a new algorithm, drawing a two-speed Twitter. On the one hand, for those who pay for the certification, the possibility of uploading larger audio and video files than at present, half the number of advertisements and… better exposure in the responses and queries of other users. Who will find themselves with a thread where the powerful will first appear, a bit like “sponsored content that will not say their name”, regrets Anuchika Stanislaus.
On the model of Instagram and TikTok, Elon Musk wants to “put forward different formats”, in particular videos, underlines Emmanuelle Patry for 20 minutes. The billionaire hopes in particular to attract content creators, promising them a nice remuneration at the end of the day. But associated with the prioritization of certified accounts, “we are moving towards less prioritization of information”, according to her. It is almost already a long time ago when we could configure the application according to our centers of interest.
If the project goes to the end, can we witness a leak of Twitter users?
What to ask the question, for those who are mainly subscribed to cat accounts, to stay on the platform? Yes, answer the two experts in unison. “Historical users can leave,” said Emmanuelle Patry, while Elon Musk’s promises can “bring in people who have extreme opinions”. Kanye West will thus return to the platform in the name of “freedom of expression”, while the rapper recently argued in a French media that family planning had been put in place with the aim of killing black children. And a return of Donald Trump is also in the pipeline.
Even among the current certified, “some may leave, a movement will be created”, predicts Anuchika Stanislaus. The digital public policy specialist points out that “the former directors of Twitter are in the process of creating their own social network”, and expects a “desertion” of the platform in favor of others “more respectful and transparent on the choice of what we see”. Fortunately, there is a little time left to do the migration. “The one-week deadline that Elon Musk gave his teams for the new certification is much too short,” reassures Anuchika Stanislaus. And despite all his ultimatums, the new boss of Twitter will have to put water in his wine if he still wants to have employees and users at the end of the month.