Twitter boss Elon Musk has announced a shake-up of the social media platform’s paid Twitter Blue feature.
From 15 April only verified subscribers will have posts recommended to other users and be allowed to vote in polls.
Under the policy, posts from non-paying accounts will not be included in the “For you” stream of recommended tweets.
Last week, the firm said it would remove the verified status of some “legacy” accounts, which date from before Mr Musk bought the firm.
Users currently pay $7 (£5.70) a month for blue-tick verification, which also allows access to additional features.
Mr Musk said the changes were “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 the same reason,” he added.
In an earlier post, Mr Musk said paid verification significantly increases the cost of using bots and makes it easier to identify them.
“Verified users will use their power and their presence on the platform to influence anything from misinformation to actual harm for users all around the world. It’s a silent threat that no one is seeing,” they added.
He wanted the platform to be “maximally trusted” and said this “isn’t a way to make money”.
Yet Twitter policy now feels very different to those ideals.
Realising that it was difficult to increase advertising revenue, Musk turned to a subscription-based model.
The sell initially was to give users a “blue tick” verification, if they paid a monthly fee.
But the paying users didn’t come in their droves. Stuck with flagging advertising revenue, and a stuttering subscription model – Musk has decided to take the nuclear option.
There are two algorithms on Twitter – the “For you” stream of recommended tweets and the stream of tweets from people you follow.
Elon Musk’s new policy will now essentially preclude non-paying users from taking part in one of those streams.
It means unverified Twitter users will be far less likely to have their tweets liked or retweeted.
Combined with Elon Musk’s winding down of misinformation checks – this could be an extremely dangerous moment for Twitter.
I’ve spoken to former employees who think this could be manna from heaven for trolls and people pushing misinformation.
It also raises an existential question for Twitter. It was supposed to be fairly meritocratic place – with tweets rising by the quality of their content.
It was a big part of Twitter’s success. But now, that appears to have been swept away.