Tech & The Web

Twitter’s ‘Blue Verified’ Plan has Launch Date

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Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, said the platform will delay the start of the ‘Blue Verified’ to the end of the month.

It would appear that Elon Musk plans to move forward with the push to force Twitter users to pay for that previously-elusive checkmark. In a tweet this week, Musk said Twitter planned to “punt” the start of “Blue Verified” to Nov. 29.

In a tweet dated Tuesday at 6:10 p.m., Twitter’s new owner said the delay was to “make sure that it’s rock solid.”

“Blue Verified” seems to be the plan to give a verification checkmark badge to everyone who pays $8 per month to subscribe to its Twitter Blue.

One user asked about those accounts that had previously received verification under the old plan. Musk criticized those legacy checkmarks shortly after he took control of the service. He said they would disappear within “a few months.”

Politicians, businesses, media outlets, journalists, corporations and other notable people have legacy checkmarks. If Musk follows through, those checkmarks will vanish unless those account owners pay up for Twitter Blue.

At this point, it’s almost comical to see the back-and-forth between Musk and concerned users. It’s sad, however, to see those worries about “Blue Verified” seem to fall on deaf ears.

So how did we get here?

Musk lit the fire over the blue verification checkmark on Nov. 1. He blasted the legacy checkmark system:

But it was that last line, “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month,” that really raised eyebrows. That’s where we learned that Musk planned to give the blue checkmark to anyone willing to cough up a monthly subscription to the Twitter Blue plan.

Hey, he bought the service. He is entirely within his rights to make such a decision. No one denies that.

But the problem is in the appearance of it all. With the legacy checkmark system, no matter whether you share his opinion that it’s “bulls***,” it meant something. Yes, there were legitimate account holders who probably should have received it but didn’t. But account impersonation — some of it under the guise of “parody” — is a serious concern. Having a checkmark indicating that Twitter had verified the account was legitimate actually did mean something.

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If you wanted to reach out to a company or a politician, of the 10 or 15 accounts that might claim to be the one you searched for, that checkmark weeded out potential imposters.

Sure, any account could be hacked and you’d still not be dealing with the real deal. But part of getting the blue checkmark was activating Two-Factor Authentication, an extra layer of security designed to prevent hacking.

So users at least had a little reason to be confident that the user was legit.

But when anyone can get “Blue Verified” by paying $8 per month, the checkmark has zero value. None.

Musk planned to have Blue Verified already active. But just before the midterm election, the plan was placed on hold until after the votes were in. That seemed strange. If his way was so much better, why would Twitter wait until after an election to implement it? If there was no reason to be concerned about imposter accounts, why wait to pull the trigger at all?

The Washington Post claimed that it was able to get “Twitter-verified” for the $8 fee by posing as a comedian and as a U.S. senator, proving the worthlessness of Blue Verified!

A ‘compromise’ plan legitimizes the concerns.

At one point, Twitter seemed to give in to criticism of the Blue Verified notion. It added an option that provided more information when you clicked on the blue checkmark. For users like Musk and other “legacy checkmark” holders, it stated the account was “notable in government, news, entertainment or another designated category.”

But the service them seemed to “tattle” on new checkmark holders who have it solely by virtue of subscribing. The popup when one clicks their badge read, “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue.”

On the one hand, this is a great idea: it provides that extra clarity those of us who value the legacy checkmarks relied on. But on the other, it demonstrates the problem with Musk’s “Power to the people” notion. The fact they’d even tell you that some users only have the checkmark because they pay for it reinforces the idea that this is a false sense of legitimacy. Otherwise, there’d be no valid reason to divulge that information.

Then, The Verge reported that Twitter brought back the gray checkmark for “official accounts.” I saw it come and go…and come…and go. The gray checkmark has value the way the legacy checkmark does…but we probably can’t count in it, either.

It’s really not about the money, folks.

I’ve seen some Twitter users who seem to miss the point about security and legitimacy concerns berate those who complain about the Blue Verified plan.

One of them said, “Dude, it’s 8 bucks.”

In the grand scheme of things, $8 per month — that’s $96 per year — isn’t a lot of money.

But for some of us, it might be too much money for what we get out of it.

Some users point out there’s another concern beyond devaluing the checkmark by making it available to anyone willing to pay such a relatively low amount. On the same day he blasted the legacy checkmark system, he posted what else you get for the subscription:

It’s that first item — “priority in replies, mentions & search, which is essential to defeat spam/scam” — that’s raising just as many concerns.

The obvious concern is about that “essential to defeat spam/scam” part. Scammers who can con people out of money would probably have zero trouble devoting a portion of those ill-gotten gains to get a checkmark that makes them look more legitimate.

But what about that “priority” part? Some are calling this a case of economic censorship. Pay up, and you’ll be seen. Refuse to pay and you might have your opinions suppressed. How much suppression could non-subscribers see? Maybe none at all. Or maybe none that would be noticeable. But how would we know for sure?

Here’s where I remind you that “free speech” doesn’t apply to privately-owned websites. Musk is in his right to do what he wants on his own site.

But its users have to decide whether a plan some call “pay to play” is right for them.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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