It’s been a tumultuous time at Twitter since Elon Musk purchased the social media platform — starting with layoffs, followed by the end of remote work at Twitter, and drastic changes to Twitter Blue. The paid Twitter subscription saw a number of changes in early November, with the most drastic changes being the pricing, and a new check mark to indicate that a user is a paid Blue subscriber.
Some took issue with the changes to the new Blue subscription; not so much for the price increase, but more because of how it changed what the check mark meant. At pre-Musk Twitter, the blue check mark next to a user’s name meant the account belonged to a “verified” user — a denotation for “active, notable, and authentic accounts of public interest,” per Twitter support. The online discourse around the new Blue check mark very much is centered around concerns of spam, fake accounts, and being able to trust that a tweet is coming from an official source. This point was perfectly exemplified when a 19-year old Twitter user abused the new check mark system to impersonate an ESPN staff member and get some fabricated news to go viral (via The Daily Dot).
Twitter is scrambling to find a verification system that works
With news moving as fast as it does, and much of our reporting coming from social media these days, it’s easy to see why a trustworthy system is needed on a public forum on the scale of Twitter. One particularly enterprising developer even put out a Google Chrome extension to sniff out the truly verified users from the paid Blue subscribers.
On Twitter’s side, things seem to have continued somewhat chaotically. A gray check mark next to the word “Official” was apparently briefly tested by the social media company on November 9. This, is in addition to the paid Twitter Blue check mark, indicating an official or verified account regardless of paid status — but it was eventually axed later that same day.
Update: It’s now gone https://t.co/5C0t7txi14
— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) November 9, 2022
Again on November 10, the “Official” wording next to a gray check mark has returned to some Twitter accounts. The official account of Ars Technica (@arstechnica) and World of Coca-Cola (@WorldofCocaCola) both have the stamp at the time of writing, among various other accounts.
The Verge reported on November 10, 2022 that Coca-Cola, The New York Times, Twitter, and Wired all had the “Official” label on their accounts, although that seems to have disappeared at the time of writing, since none of the aforementioned accounts bear the wording that seemingly indicates a “verified” account. Whatever is happening at Twitter HQ, a recent tweet from Musk suggested that we might see some confusing decisions.
Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months.
We will keep what works & change what doesnâ€™t.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 9, 2022