Twitter has a list of some three dozen “VIP users” that includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), basketball superstar LeBron James, and Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro, according to a report.
Elon Musk, the site’s new owner who grew unhappy that his tweets were generating less engagement, ordered his software engineers to carve out a special category of “power users” whose tweets consistently remain visible, according to the Platformer tech news site (pay wall).
Naturally, Musk’s name was included in the “power users” list, which also counts President Biden, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and YouTube personality MrBeast, Platformer reported.
Twitter engineers reportedly obeyed their boss’ directive to tweak the system algorithm so that his posts remain more visible than other users, according to Platformer.
The site’s developers arranged for Musk and other VIP users to circumvent limitations on their visibility — resulting in their posts appearing more frequently on the “For You” recommendations tab, according to the report by Platformer.
“For You” is the Twitter feed powered by an algorithm that is programmed to offer posts from accounts that users normally follow as well as recommended tweets.
Musk on Monday announced that high-profile Twitter users who until now had a blue checkmark next to their name as a status symbol will have to pay up to $11 a month to keep it.
“It will be glorious,” he tweeted Monday, in response to a Twitter user who noted that Saturday, the deadline that Musk set for blue check holders to pony up or lose their legacy status, is also April Fools’ Day.
After buying Twitter for $44 billion in October, Musk has been trying to boost the struggling platform’s revenue by pushing more people to pay for a premium subscription known as Twitter Blue.
But his move also reflects his assertion that the blue verification marks have become an undeserved or “corrupt” status symbol for elite personalities and news reporters.
“Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations,” Musk tweeted on Monday.
“[This] is 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 same reason.”
But the plan has gotten pushback from prominent personalities, including Monica Lewinsky, who says that Musk’s new system will enable pranksters to impersonate the former White House intern.
Lewinsky tweeted a screenshot Sunday of all the people impersonating her, including at least one who appears to have paid for a blue check mark.
She asked, “what universe is this fair to people who can suffer consequences for being impersonated? a lie travels half way around the world before truth even gets out the door.”
Star Trek alumnus William Shatner, known for his irreverent humor, also tagged Musk with a complaint about the promised changes.
“I’ve been here for 15 years giving my (clock emoji) & witty thoughts all for bupkis,” he wrote. “Now you’re telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free?”
Musk responded that there shouldn’t be a different standard for celebrities.
“It’s more about treating everyone equally,” Musk tweeted.
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