Twitter has started taking away the blue checkmark from verified users who haven't subscribed to Twitter Blue. Elon Musk created Twitter Blue after purchasing the platform for $44 billion, offering a monthly fee of $8 for the blue tick and additional features. "Legacy accounts," or those with checkmarks that existed before Musk's acquisition, were given the choice to pay for the subscription or lose their checkmark, which was initially created to prevent the impersonation of public figures.
Twitter removed verification badges from thousands of accounts, including those of notable figures such as Pope Francis, Bill Gates, and Kim Kardashian, on Thursday. Despite multiple deadline extensions, the removal proceeded. Celebrities such as Stephen King also claimed they retained their badges without payment. The removal of verification badges also affected government agencies, nonprofits, and public-service accounts, causing concerns about how the public can distinguish official channels of information from other accounts during public events or emergencies.
Why it matters
Musk changed the way verified government and media accounts are identified on Twitter with grey and gold checkmarks, respectively. However, it is unclear how these designations are given. The blue checkmark was previously used to verify the identity of users, particularly politicians, celebrities, journalists, and media outlets. Some Twitter users objected to the changes, fearing it would lead to the spread of misinformation. Twitter had to suspend the launch of Twitter Blue in November 2022 due to impersonation accounts but relaunched it in December with changes. Recently, non-paying users lost their checkmarks, leading to chaos with fake accounts reemerging, including one impersonating Jeff Bezos announcing the shutdown of Amazon.