Twitter has undergone a massive change recently, following the news that tech billionaire Elon Musk has finally completed the acquisition of the social media giant.
- The acquisition was an accumulation of a month-long battle between Twitter and Musk, with the company threatening Musk to take him to court after previously backing out of the deal.
- Following the acquisition, Musk introduced some sweeping changes that rocked the social media giant. He first started with firing several C-Suite executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal. This was then followed by massive layoffs globally, albeit sources have said that Twitter approached several fired employees and pleaded to go back to their positions.
- Musk’s takeover of Twitter caused a massive panic across a wide variety of spectrum, including journalists who fear that misinformation will be now more prevalent; and advertisers who fear their ads will appear alongside extremist content.
- Ad companies such as Interpublic Group (IPG) and Havas had advised clients to halt Twitter ad spend, while other brands such as Mondelez and Pfizer have also halted ad spend on the platform.
- As of this writing, experts are warning that Twitter’s corporate structure could collapse following mass resignations from key Twitter departments, including their communications, software, community, legal, and support teams.
What Is Changing
- A key change evident during Musk’s takeover of Twitter was an improvement of their Twitter Blue service, which now allows users to have a ‘paid’ verification status for USD8.00, alongside a new set of features.
- In the VTubing community, there have been several agency and indie VTubers who have availed the Twitter Blue subscription, including several Production Kawaii and Phase Connect talents. Even Kawa Entertainment has also availed of said subscription.
- However, there has been an increasing amount of abuse evident with the paid verification system. In multiple cases, brands such as Nintendo, Lockheed Martin, Eli Lilly, SpaceX, and even personalities such as LeBron James, and George W. Bush has been the subject of fake verified accounts, causing misinformation (and sometimes hilarious interactions) in the Twitter space.
Why This Matters to VTubers
- In its feature page, Twitter Blue promises subscribers that by buying their subscription ‘elevates quality conversations on Twitter’. This means that Twitter classifies tweets made by ‘verified’ users will be given more screen time on the platform and will be more likely to be recommended to other people based on their following recommendations.
- However, there is a possibility that there could be a rise of VTuber imposters, as well as entities that may pose as legitimate organizations and businesses that conduct services to VTubers i.e. rigging, illustrations, consulting, public relations. There is now an abundance of online imposters posing as legitimate entities that offer services, and the new paid verification system could highlight them.
- While the debate around ‘shadowbanning’ is still a point of discussion related to the Twitter space, the real reason why this update should be a point of discussion is how the verification strategy will not be equal to all. Bear in mind that this is a want, not a need. For a well-developed country, USD8 may seem like spare change to others, but to a large chunk of those in developing nations, USD8 is a day’s worth of work or two.
- This part is not to disparage those who have availed the Twitter Blue subscription: it is their own want. But one has to understand to be wary of the ongoing scenes in Twitter’s corporate world. With experts saying that Musk is trying to recoup the cost of the acquisition, Twitter Blue seemingly serves as a scapegoat for Musk’s plan to directly recoup his losses.
What Steps are Being Done
For now, Musk has announced that it is halting new subscriptions to Twitter Blue in order to combat impersonation of entities and personalities online.
A report by The Verge notes the confusion of the verification scheme: Twitter tried to counteract the confusing rise in fake accounts with the launch of another verification badge, a gray tick designating accounts as “official”.
The company launched this feature, removed it, then launched it again, all within a matter of days.
What Alternatives Do We Have
- The most commonly discussed alternative platform to switch to was Tumblr, and we are now seeing discussions in the VTuber Twitter community about populating the platform with posts about the VTubing community, focusing on art and memes.
- Meanwhile, Mastodon–a social media service similar to Twitter, is also picking up steam. Vt.social is a server dedicated to VTubers in the Mastodon space. The server was built by game developer and VTuber Luna Foxgirl.
- Another new player in the social media field is CoHost.org, which looks similar to the classic Tumblr.