For less than a day, Twitter had two different — and somewhat confusing — verification labels.
There was the all familiar blue badge with white checkmark (it is not a “blue check”), which Twitter has used for years as a symbol that an account is actually connected to a celebrity, government official, journalist or other notable person, brand or agency.
That still exists — except anyone can get it now. All they have to do is pay Twitter $8 a month for their subscription feature, Twitter Blue, and the badge will be bestowed upon their account.
Not everyone was keen on paying for verification. That’s why, this week, a Twitter production manager confirmed the company was introducing a new verification label, one that can’t be bought or even applied for. One that would apply to profiles that didn’t feel like paying for verification, but still fit the criteria of noteworthiness.
The label, called “Official,” began rolling out to accounts early Wednesday morning — only to be instantly killed off by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk.
“Twitter will do a lot of dumb things in the coming months,” Musk said shortly after he ordered the death of the Official label, adding that the platform intends to “keep what works and change what doesn’t.”
Musk has received intense criticism over the last two weeks for his proposal to roll Twitter verification into the Twitter Blue subscription. Musk himself confirmed that the blue verification badge won’t require anything more than a name, a phone number and a credit card for payment.
Already, the easier verification system has been abused, with an account purporting to be Twitter itself promoting a cryptocurrency scam on an account that received verification on Wednesday. (The account’s handle did not reference Twitter in any way; the social media company eventually suspended the account for “violating Twitter’s rules.”)
Some experts say this type of abusive behavior is likely to accelerate on Twitter as the company weakens its verification system and the enforcement of its rules. Emma Steiner, a government transparency advocate with the group Common Cause, told ABC News that Twitter’s verification system has long blurred the lines between authenticity and authority. Now, with verification rolled into a subscription system, that line has been blurred even more.
“The new policy makes this division more confusing,” she said.
Others say Musk’s decision to build Twitter Blue into an attractive subscription offering puts the company on the right track, but that Musk should raise the price to $10 a month in order to maximize the company’s revenue potential.
“It’s ironic that Elon Musk is revamping the Twitter verification system without verifying who would use it and what they would be willing to pay,” Anouar El Haji, the founder and chief executive of Veylinx, said in a statement emailed to The Desk on Tuesday. “If he’s seeking to create a new revenue stream, he can do better than rely on online polls to guide his decisions.”