Social media platform Twitter says it will remove blue badges from accounts that were verified under a legacy program next month.
The legacy verification program ended late last year, shortly after Twitter relaunched its Twitter Blue subscription program under new owner Elon Musk. Twitter Blue allows users to verify themselves by paying at least $8 a month for the privilege, and doesn’t require a user to actually verify themselves with a full name or other personal information.
In an announcement posted on the Twitter Verified profile, a spokesperson for the company said accounts that were verified under its previous program will lose the coveted blue badge on April 1, at which point users will have to pay $8 a month or $80 a year for Twitter Blue if they want to remain “verified” on the platform.
From that date, the only other way to be “verified” on Twitter is to work for a company that pays at least $1,000 a month for Twitter’s “Verified Organizations” product, which allows brands to verify themselves with a gold badge and square avatar. Companies that take part in that program must pay an additional $50 for each affiliated account they want verified.
Twitter users expressed skepticism at the announcement, noting the date for the legacy program’s full shutdown coincides with “April Fool’s Day,” and pointing to Musk’s habitual trolling of reporters, celebrities and others who are among Twitter’s most-notable users.
Musk’s dislike for reporters is particularly notable: Shortly after announcing his acquisition of the company, he hired two actors to interact with reporters outside Twitter’s headquarters and portray themselves as recently fired workers. The scheme occurred while Twitter was in the process of actually laying off hundreds of employees, including engineers who were instrumental in keeping the website online.
Earlier this month, Musk said reporters who contacted an e-mail address once used for media inquiries would receive an automatic reply with an emoji that represented a pile of fecal matter. The “poop emoji e-mail response” was later confirmed by a number of reporters who tried it out for themselves. Musk shut down Twitter’s communications team shortly after purchasing the company, a move that resembled one he took at automobile maker Tesla.