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Among reports of major media outlets like the New York Times and Insider as well as celebrities like LeBron James and William Shatner refusing to pay for the infamous blue verified badge on Twitter, the platform has updated the badge’s description making legacy verified accounts indistinguishable from those verified by Twitter Blue.
Twitter had previously stated that it’ll start removing the blue checkmark from legacy verified accounts starting April 1. The price to keep the badge was either a Twitter Blue subscription for individuals costing $8 or $11 based on where you purchase it or $1000 a month for businesses. In a now-deleted tweet, Musk said that these accounts would be given a few weeks’ grace, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for at least the New York Times, with the outlet losing its gold checkmark as of April 2.
At the same time, the platform is making it difficult to distinguish between legacy verified users and those who got their blue badge by paying for a Twitter Blue subscription. Previously, the badge description indicated who had paid for Twitter Blue by saying “this account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue” with legacy verified accounts getting the “this is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable”.
These descriptions have now been combined to read “this account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue or is a legacy verified account”. This is a small change but carries significant ramifications on the platform. Legacy-verified users have since been clarifying that they’ve not paid for Twitter Blue, with a lot of them adding that they never will.
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Making Twitter profitable, one checkmark at a time
Musk’s latest push into getting as many Twitter users to subscribe to Twitter Blue as possible is part of his strategy to make Twitter profitable. The Twitter Blue program already has had a rocky launch, with major pushback on the increased $8 price tag, which was further bloated to $11 to account for the Apple and Google tax that subscribers using these platforms would have to bear.
In the face of falling ad revenue and billions of dollars in debt, Twitter’s paid subscription is handing the famed blue badge to anyone willing to cough up the Twitter Blue subscription. The move contradicts Musk’s claims of making Twitter the “most trusted place on the internet”, as it’s now way harder to distinguish real accounts from pranksters who decided to pay for the badge instead, something we’ve already seen in the early rollout days of the program. Additionally, the confusing description makes it so accounts with verified checkmarks can’t be trusted for sure either.
Finally, the move against the New York Times also seems to be somewhat personally motivated. Around the time that the New York Times lost its verified checkmark, Musk tweeted that their “propaganda isn’t even interesting”, with some interesting comments on how the Times’ Twitter feed looks.
Regardless of the motivations behind the move, it remains to be seen whether or not taxing the blue badge will bring sizeable revenue for Twitter. As per a report from The Information had just 180,000 US subscribers two months after launch. The same goes for the authenticity problem that making Twitter a pay-for-play game brings.
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