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Busy week for Twitter as $8 blue badge is paused, while entire Ghana staff is fired

It's been a busy week for Twitter not only in its San Francisco headquarters with the $8 blue checkmark subscription rollout now paused - till further notice - but in Africa too after Elon Musk reportedly fired the entire staff at its only Africa office in Ghana without severance, while the South African film board orders the network to urgently remove sexually explicit videos of the Free State speaker from the platform.

  • Though Elon Musk earlier said charging users for verification will make it too expensive for trolls to make fake accounts, this turned out not to be the case as the platform got swamped with verified fake accounts following its immediate release
  • On Friday, Twitter paused the initial $7.99 Blue subscription rollout on iOS as the result. This follows the impersonation of several reputable brands, among them pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and Musk’s own Tesla
  • Meanwhile, the social media platform reportedly fired nearly all its 20-member staff in Ghana this week without any indication of severance pay, leaving it with only one member
  • Ghana’s shocking layoffs come only four days after a local manager inaugurated the reopening of its headquarters in Accra
  • Though unrelated, South Africa has had its share of the Twitter drama as the Film Publications Board orders the platform to urgently remove sexualy explicit videos of the Free State legislature speaker from Zanele Sifuba
  • For a selection of top stories hand-picked by our editorial team, visit the NOWinSA/Editors Pick front page!

Just days after introducing the subscription based service as part of its many changes, Twitter on Friday suspended the subscription-based blue tick.

Many users abused the new program to impersonate brands and famous people who acquired a blue check mark via the company’s original verification system.

Among reputable brands that were impersonated were pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, video game multinational Nintendo, and Musk’s own electric car company, Tesla.

Meanwhile, US regulator The Federal Trade Commission warned it’s watching events at Twitter with deep concerns after the social media platform’s top security official reportedly resigned, stating that Musk “is not above the law”.

The US regulator’s warning comes in the back of Musk having told Twitter employees that bankruptcy is not out of the question for the company.

Earlier in the week, concerns were raised over the highly reported resignations of Twitter head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, as well as that of Chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran and chief compliance officer, Marianne Fogarty among others.

Fears are growing that their departures may increase the risk of Twitter violating regulatory orders, as well further exposing the platform to an increase in fake accounts. The concerns come just months after Twitter was fined $150m in May for selling users’ data.

It would seem his impromptu hosting of a Twitter space on Wednesday, in an effort to allay advertiser concerns about brand safety and relevancy didn’t bear much fruits, given the current suspense of the controversial $8 verification service. As dumb as the move may eventually prove to be, that wasn’t the intent, Musk said during space (click below tweet to listen). “We’re not aspirationally dumb.”

For Twitter to be adventurous and “make some really big leaps and have radical improvements”, he said that comes with lots of risks. The key is being extremely agile, he said.

Ghana Twitter staff layoffs

Just over a year after for choosing Ghana as its only headquarters in Africa in April 2021, the tech company has fired nearly all its staff in Ghana without severance – except for one person – more than a week after billionaire Elon Musk took over the company.

Media reports revealed that only one person was left in the almost 20-member team. This comes after the South African born business announced he’ll be making big changes at Twitter including laying off workers worldwide.

The employment termination emails were reportedly sent to the Ghana employees personal accounts before being denied access to their work ones.

FPB calls on Twitter to remove explicit videos

South African Film and Publications Board (FPB) ordered Twitter to urgently remove sexually explicit videos of the Free State speaker from the platform, days after is continues occupy top trends on the platform since its leak.

The board has written to the social media giant, saying the continued distribution of a video of such “explicit depiction of extreme nudity” risks not only exposing it to children, but that it could have a negative mental health impact on the victim.

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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