If you are a regular Twitter user you will have noticed that the app is changing more than ever in the last year and a half. The need to turn the app into a profitable social network is leading Elon Musk to try measures that do not enjoy the support of users. And there is one particularly dangerous one.
In 2009, Twitter introduced a blue check mark next to some users’ names to indicate that the company had “verified” them as legitimate accounts.
At least at first, it was meant to crack down on impersonators who wanted to gain fame by claiming to be this or that celebrity.
Since then, the verification mark has become a sign of status, amplifying the voices of those who have it and leading some to question the decisions to grant it: the past decade has been years of criticism and hatred for getting that blue badge.
Verification is no longer status, now it’s money
When billionaire Elon Musk took over the platform last year, the check mark took on new meaning, becoming a symbol of the financial challenges it now faces and how everything is being monetized on the social network.
Elon Musk now grants the status to anyone willing to pay a monthly subscription.
Verification marks granted before the subscription model was introduced, known as legacy verification marks, have lingered for months on the accounts of people who haven’t necessarily paid for them.
But Musk is set to do away with them and has announced that they will disappear on April 1.
What does it mean to have a blue mark today?
Today, but especially after April 1, a blue checkmark basically means a user is paying for it.
After privatizing Twitter in October, Musk introduced a pay-for-verification service called Twitter Blue, whereby users who pay $8 a month get a blue checkmark.
After getting out of control over trolls and fake accounts, Twitter put the Blue service on hiatus in November and relaunched it in December for a charge of $8 per month.
At the time, Musk said that people who didn’t pay for Twitter Blue would lose their verification badges “in a few months”. That day is about to come.
What happens if I lose my legacy check mark?
Part of Twitter Blue’s sales pitch is that it will help accounts “skyrocket in replies, mentions and searches.” In addition, the “For You” feed, the default view for the social network’s users, will stop recommending content from accounts that are not verified, Musk tweeted Monday.
So if you don’t subscribe, your content won’t be shown to people who don’t follow you. This could have a big impact on the platform, as it would shift the focus from popularity feeds – leveraging creators with the most followers – to paid.
Unverified users will also not be able to participate in any polls that Twitter conducts. This may be a weighty issue: Musk conducted a poll in December asking whether he should remain CEO, and said he would abide by the results of the poll.
Interestingly, although 57.5% of respondents said he should step down, he remains at the helm of the company and there is no information to suggest that he will step down any time soon.
Why is verification so important?
Musk has always claimed that eliminating bots is a key reason he paid $44 billion to buy the company.
Bots are automated accounts that can do the same things as real humans, such as sending tweets, but spam bots use these actions to engage in misleading, harmful and annoying activities, or tweet incessantly in an attempt to drive traffic to a website for a product or service.
They can also spread misinformation and promote political messages. Twitter Blue, by highlighting verified accounts, helps reduce spam. Many experts have stated that they do not believe these measures will actually help the platform, beyond having a revenue-raising purpose.
The reality is that Elon Musk has a pressing need to monetize the billions of dollars he left behind and Twitter Blue seems the most direct path.
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