Twitter has launched a subscription service allowing users to buy blue-tick verification for a monthly fee of 7.99 US dollars (£7) in a major change under its new owner, Elon Musk.
The system was designed to help users identify authentic and influential users on the platform, including government figures, sports stars, entertainment figures, journalists and major brands and organisations.
But in an update to Apple iOS devices on Saturday, the social media company said any users who “sign up now” to its premium “Twitter Blue” service for 7.99 US dollars a month will get a blue tick.
Available in the UK, as well as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the update said the service will provide: “Power to the people: Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.”
Other features promised to be “coming soon” include half the number of adverts, the ability to post longer videos and priority ranking for content posted on the platform.
Musk appears to be looking to diversify Twitter’s revenue streams and seeking to drastically reduce costs at the company after completing his 44 billion dollar (£39 billion) takeover of the platform last week.
The firm began widespread staff cuts around the world on Friday, with suggestions as many as half of its more than 7,500 staff could be axed.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey took to the platform on Saturday to apologise for growing the company too quickly.
He said: “I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.
“I am grateful for, and love, everyone who has ever worked on Twitter. I don’t expect that to be mutual in this moment…or ever… and I understand.”
Workers in the UK have been told the company plans to inform and consult employee representatives ahead of potential redundancies, as required by employment law.
An email sent to staff from Twitter’s HR department on Saturday said they had until 9am on Tuesday to nominate any current employee.
A maximum of 10 representatives can be nominated, with an election to be held if more than 10 nominations are received, according to the email.
Representatives will be required to attend consultation meetings and help communicate between the firm and affected employees.
But Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, which represents thousands of technology workers including Twitter staff, described the process as “a complete sham”.
e said membership among Twitter workers has been “growing rather rapidly” since new owner Elon Musk announced job cuts.
Mr Clancy described the situation as the “digital P&O” – in reference to the shipping company, which was widely condemned after it sacked nearly 800 crew members without notice in March and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.
Musk said on Friday evening that Twitter employees who lost their jobs have been offered a three-month pay-off, with the company losing more than 4 million US dollars (£3.5 million) a day.
Its head of safety later said jobs cuts have affected about 15% of the trust and safety department, as opposed to approximately 50% of cuts company-wide.