Twitter is reportedly delaying the rollout of subscriber verification checks as the social network tries to avoid the potential fallout for Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Elon Musk’s social media company planned to roll out the revamped version of its subscription service, Twitter Blue, on Monday. The company began testing the new features on Saturday, according to an app update note.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The reported move to delay the rollout of verification badges comes just days before the US midterm elections, with polls closing on Nov. 8. The New York Times reports that the move was aimed at limiting the potential impact of verified users impersonating political or other government figures, such as President Biden, or news outlets claiming false results that could discourage others from voting.
Jen Easterly, director of CISA, the US government agency charged with overseeing election security and protecting voting infrastructure, said last week that the agency “had found no credible or specific information about attempts to disrupt or compromise,” but warned of the lingering risks of disinformation campaigns mounted by foreign actors to undermine confidence in the electoral system.
Security experts such as Chris Krebs, the former CISA director fired by President Trump for refuting false claims of voter fraud, warned that Twitter’s new verification rules would pose a “high risk” in the run-up to the midterm elections.
At the time of writing, several verified users were posing as Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, despite the risk of their accounts being suspended for impersonation.
Costing $7.99 per month in the US, the revamped Twitter Blue includes a host of new features, including the coveted blue checkmark for anyone who subscribes, and reduces the number of ads shown on the platform.
Musk is committed to turning the subscription service into a major source of revenue for Twitter, which he acquired last month for $44 billion. Musk funded $13 billion to purchase banks and must pay more than $1 billion a year in interest.
The company started cost cutting earlier this week and laid off about half of its staff, or about 3,700 jobs.
In a series of tweets earlier this weekend, Musk claimed that the company’s revamped Twitter Blue could “beat” the ad revenue YouTube provides to creators, and that he was also working to improve search functionality on Twitter.
Twitter will also soon allow users to add long texts to tweets, he said. Twitter plans to roll out the revamped Twitter Blue to subscribers in many markets in the coming months. In response to a tweet, Musk said he was hopeful Twitter Blue will be rolled out to users in India “in less than a month.”