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Twitter Reportedly Delays Changes to Verification Badges Until After Election

The program was expected to take effect as early as Monday.

Elon Musk's profile picture on his Twitter page
Sarah Tew/CNET

Twitter is postponing the rollout of verification badges connected to an $8 monthly subscription service until after Tuesday's midterm elections, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Twitter made the decision after reports circulated that the pay-for-verification setup could launch as soon as Monday. On Saturday, version notes for the latest iteration of Twitter's app for the Apple iPhone showed up in the App Store, with a What's New section that pointed to the verification feature as part of the Twitter Blue subscription service.

The notes told users that "starting today" if you "sign up now" for Twitter Blue, "your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow." It appears, though, that the program hadn't actually kicked in yet.

"Power to the people," the announcement said. 

Twitter has traditionally provided verified badges to accounts for free after the company determines the user is "authentic, notable and active." The blue check mark is meant to signal to users that an account of a celebrity, journalist, politician or other public figure isn't fake.

But Twitter users and employees raised concerns that the badges could be used to land an air of authenticity to fake accounts ahead of Tuesday's election that could be used to spread misinformation about the election and its results. The Times reported that a Twitter employee asked in a Slack channel why the social network was "making such a risky change before elections, which has the potential of causing election interference."

A manager working on the badge project responded on Sunday that "we've made the decision to move the launch of this release to Nov. 9, after the election," the Times reported.

Twitter, which has reportedly laid off almost all of its communications team, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since Elon Musk completed a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion in October, he's fired several executives and floated ideas for making over the social network. Musk, an avid user of Twitter, has said that the company has a lot of potential that he plans to unlock. But he's also been one of Twitter's toughest critics, accusing the company of "failing to adhere to free speech principles" and misleading him about the number of spam or fake accounts on the platform.