Twitter is reportedly delaying the rollout of verification check marks to subscribers as the social network attempts to steer clear of possible impact to Tuesday’s midterm elections.
The Elon Musk-owned social media company had planned to roll out the revamped version of its subscription service, Twitter Blue, on Monday. The firm started 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 U.S. midterm elections, with polls closing on November 8. The New York Times reports that the move was aimed at limiting the potential fallout of verified users impersonating political or other government figures, such as President Biden, or news outlets claiming false results that may discourage others from voting.
Jen Easterly, director of CISA, the U.S. government agency tasked with overseeing election security and protecting voting infrastructure, said last week that the agency had found “no information credible or specific about efforts to disrupt or compromise,” but warned of the ongoing risks posed by disinformation campaigns sown by foreign actors aimed at undermining confidence in the elections system.
Security experts like Chris Krebs, the former CISA director who was fired by President Trump for refuting false claims of election fraud, warned that Twitter’s new verification rules would be a “major risk” ahead of the midterm elections.
At the time of writing, several verified users were impersonating Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, despite the risk of having their accounts suspended for impersonation.
The revamped Twitter Blue, which will cost $7.99 a month in the U.S., includes a range of new features including the coveted blue check mark to anyone who subscribes as well as cuts down the number of ads served to them on the platform.
Musk is betting on turning the subscription service into a major revenue source for Twitter, which he acquired last month for $44 billion. Musk financed $13 billion for the purchase from banks and needs to pay more than $1 billion a year in interest payments.
The company began cutting costs earlier this week, laying off roughly half its workforce, or about 3,700 jobs.
In a series of tweets earlier this weekend, Musk claimed the company’s revamped Twitter Blue “can beat” the ad-revenue YouTube offers to creators, and that he was also working on fixing the search functionality on Twitter.
Twitter will also soon allow users to attach long-form 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 that Twitter Blue will roll out to users in India “in less than a month.”