Twitter's Blue Check Strategy Turning Into a Fiasco

Prominent users are making clear they did not pay and do not want it
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2023 9:12 AM CDT
Twitter's Blue Check Strategy Turning Into a Fiasco
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Among the big names who have confirmed their phone number and paid $8 to have a blue checkmark on their Twitter account, at least according to Twitter, are Anthony Bourdain, Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, Mac Miller, and Jamal Khashoggi. As the Hill notes, that's a little confusing considering that none of them are alive. But it's just one aspect of Elon Musk's new blue-check strategy making unwanted headlines for Twitter. Coverage:

  • Last week, Elon Musk changed the rules on the blue checkmarks, which were once reliable guides to verify that accounts were legit. They used to be free, but now anyone who pays $8 for a "Twitter Blue" subscription and verifies a phone number can get one. Here's how Axios frames it: "Internet verification used to be a badge of honor. Now that it's achievable to anyone who is willing to buy it, it's become a signal of desperation."

  • Despite the rule change, Musk has been letting most users with more than 1 million followers keep their checkmarks for free. And many of these figures have spent the last few days letting the world know they did not pay for the blue ticks and do not want them, per Mediaite. The likes of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, LeBron James, Patton Oswalt, and many, many others are emphatically making clear they are not paid subscribers. (Some, including Charlie Sheen, were happy with the comped checkmark.)
  • At Slate, Alex Kirshner sees all this as a "weekend-long masterclass in business failure." Consider what's happening: "Famous people from every walk of life you could think of have, in the span of a few days, grabbed their megaphones to tell the world they did not pay for a specific product." And why? Because not only did Musk make Twitter worse, he began charging people more for this inferior product, all while "making himself an unappealing person for people to associate themselves with in public."
  • In short, the checkmark saga is now seen as a confusing mess, and one that Mashable points out could have legal consequences, given that "tying a person's identity to a product or service without their consent can be seen as false endorsement."
  • In regard to the late celebrities mentioned above, the Verge notes that in some cases it's possible their estates did indeed pay for a subscription, though "many of the accounts being re-verified have been dormant for years." At the least, Twitter's boilerplate message that they have "subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number" comes off as "insensitive," per the post.
(More Twitter stories.)

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