Twitter’s check marks were originally intended to verify the authenticity of prominent accounts. “Blue Checks” appear next to the names of many high-profile celebrities, politicians, journalists, activists and organizations.
“This is a person that the powers that be at Twitter decided is important in some way,” Amanda Silberling, a senior culture reporter at TechCrunch, said about the original check mark status.
Elon Musk speaks during a press conference at SpaceX's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images, FILE
In addition to cutting down on scam accounts, Silberling told ABC Audio the checks came to convey a sense of legitimacy on the platform.
“I think in some ways it is a status symbol,” said Silberling. “I was very excited when I got my blue check … people are noticing what I’m doing as a journalist, that makes me feel good.”
Hear ABC Audio's Mike Dobuski report:
Following a revamp of Twitter Blue last year, now any user who pays a monthly subscription fee automatically gets a check mark – regardless of the relevancy of the account. For months now, new Twitter Blue subscribers enjoyed verified status alongside the “legacy” blue check accounts. But starting in April, the company said any existing blue check accounts that don't subscribe to Twitter Blue will have to pay up – or lose the check.
“Starting April 1, 2023, we’ll begin winding down our legacy verification program,” reads Twitter’s help page. It goes on to detail the process by which users can receive a blue check. Accounts must be older than 30 days, for example. They also “may not impersonate individuals, groups or organizations to mislead, confuse or deceive others, nor use a fake identity in a manner that disrupts the experience of others on Twitter.”
Musk said charging for verification is part of an attempt to cut down on automated spam accounts, known as “bots.” In a recent tweet, Musk wrote that “paid account social media will be the only social media that matters.”
STOCK PHOTO: Twitter's Blue checkmark
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
At the same time, Twitter has rolled out additional gray and gold check marks, intended to verify government and business accounts. The official White House Twitter account, for example, currently displays a gray check mark. ABC News, meanwhile, has a gold check.
But Silberling says tying blue checks to payment still leaves the door open to impersonation and misinformation on the platform.
“The blue check is essentially just going to lose its meaning,” she said, adding that users now bear more responsibility in determining which accounts are real on the platform.
“It’s always a good thing if social media users are aware of what they’re reading, and is it true,” said Silberling. “But also part of the job of social media platforms is to make it more difficult for misinformation to circulate, and I don’t think that Twitter is doing a great job of that right now.”