A cacophony of wrath has marked Twitter over the past few days, as the platform’s legacy system of blue “verified” checkmarks, given to handpicked users, was retired in favor of a new system open to all users willing to pay a subscription fee.
The new regime came into force on 4/20/23 (another nod to the “420” meme by perennial jokester Elon Musk), and resulted in users who had been verified under the old system — mostly celebs, journalists, and public figures — lose their checkmarks.
Those figures could easily re-acquire their checkmarks, by taking the $8 subscription option that is now available to all users, but many instead chose to descend into a fit of pique at the loss of their once-exclusive status signifier.
“So by revoking my blue check mark because I wouldn’t pay some arbitrary fee, someone can just be me and say a bunch of bullshit,” seethed Alyssa Milano. “Does that mean Twitter and Elon Musk are liable for defamation or identity theft or fraud?”
So by revoking my blue check mark because I wouldn’t pay some arbitrary fee, someone can just be me and say a bunch of bullshit. Does that mean Twitter and @elonmusk are liable for defamation or identity theft or fraud?
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 20, 2023
“Elon, deciding that I’m not me, I’m a fake, & obliging ME, who has contributed mightily to your platform, (at least until you “tweaked the algorithm & tanked my metrics”) to pay monthly because you don’t have enough money & you’re humiliated b/c everyone thinks you’re a pathetic douche, is the funniest thing you’ve ever done,” said Bette Midler.
douche, is the funniest thing you’ve ever done. Let that sink in. Sorry to hear about your rocket.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) April 21, 2023
“Today proves yet again that you can’t buy class but you can buy a blue check mark,” said leftist journalist Dan Rather.
Today proves yet again that you can’t buy class but you can buy a blue check mark.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) April 21, 2023
“WE are the content creators. WE are why advertisers are here. And WE create all this content FOR FREE. YOU should be paying US,” raged the official account of Mueller, She Wrote, a Trump-era podcast promoting the Russiagate hoax.
WE are the content creators. WE are why advertisers are here. And WE create all this content FOR FREE. YOU should be paying US. Paying for a blue check mark would be like charging musicians to have their music on Spotify. Twitter isn’t a SERVICE. It’s a PLATFORM. https://t.co/v7mcjBhqIe
— Mueller, She Wrote (@MuellerSheWrote) April 21, 2023
The hosts of Morning Joe condemned the “chaos” of the change, including the potential effects on “democracy.”
Morning Joe Show Goes Berserk Over #ElonMusk‘s Twitter Blue Check #system: “It’s complete mayhem…This is going to create a lot of distress.”
“Well, you have the option to pay $8 for Twitter Blue.” pic.twitter.com/gKhH0KyHne
— Whatfinger News (@Whatfinger1) April 21, 2023
“Today I lost a blue check mark, and saved both 8 bucks a month and my dignity,” said liberal author John Pavlovitz. “I win.”
Today I lost a blue check mark, and saved both 8 bucks a month and my dignity. I win.
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) April 21, 2023
Originally created to protect prominent figures from impersonation, Twitter’s blue check mark quickly became a prize doled out to favored users by employees at the woke company, with many non-prominent accounts with fewer than ten thousand followers getting verified.
At the same time, Twitter refused to give verified status to prominent conservative and anti-establishment accounts including James O’Keefe and Julian Assange.
Musk’s introduction of the paid verification system puts an end to the previous, biased regime, but also creates its own problems, such as pranksters and impersonators paying for a blue check mark to appear more authentic.
The new system also has potential benefits. It will raise the costs of operating effective spam bots, since unverified accounts will have to compete against what will likely be a much larger mass of verified accounts, which may continue to be privileged in Twitter’s algorithm.
Over the weekend, Musk appeared to relent to at least some of the former blue checkmark army, providing verification to a variety of celebrity accounts without much logic to his choices.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.