In a week in which Twitter CEO and enfant terrible Elon Musk changed his Twitter handle to something we won’t print here and removed the “W” from the company name on Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, the news about a real, [possibly] true, and [maybe] final date for removing all legacy blue checks might pass almost unnoticed.
Of course, Musk made it more newsworthy (or ridiculous) by selecting April 20, a.k.a “4/20” as the removal date, the significance of which is not lost on cannabis aficionados, including Musk, who famously toked up on the Joe Rogan podcast.
Musk has been threatening to remove legacy checkmarks for months and most recently set the timing for the first of April, but then nothing happened. Instead, the company altered blue check verbiage for legacy accounts to read, “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue or is a legacy verified account.”
As a result, it was no longer possible to tell if someone had a blue check that was granted to them by Twitter’s previous leadership or if they were paying the $7.99 a month fee.
Final date for removing legacy Blue checks is 4/20April 11, 2023
While the Twitter subscription plan predated Musk’s takeover of the company in late 2022, it was the Tesla CEO who decided to force users to pay for verification. The initially botched plan didn’t ask anyone to verify their identity and resulted in disasters, like Ely Lilly being impersonated on Twitter and claiming that insulin was now free.
The new system at least asks you to verify your identity with a credit card, but Musk’s dreams of forcing millions of Twitter users to pay up may be stumbling. A recent Bloomberg report claims that just 116,000 people have signed up for Twitter Blue, not the millions Musk needs to turn the subscription services into a real revenue generator.
I don’t get this. @NPR is no more “US-state affiliated” than, say, @PBS, which does not have that label. PBS gets some (not much, always falling) gov’t funding. NPR doesn’t even get direct funding (some small indirect). pic.twitter.com/JRhyQUTagRApril 5, 2023
Musk is also misrepresenting some organizations that already have the newer Gold checks (for business), by applying an erroneous description. Earlier this week, Twitter changed NPR (National Public Radio) Twitter bio to read “state affiliate media.”
When NPR and others protested, correctly pointing out that only a tiny fraction of NPR’s funding comes from the US Government, Musk sort of relented and then added an almost equally misleading label that says NPR is government-funded.
If Musk sticks with this plan, it may soon be hard to tell who on Twitter is real, has earned authority, or is a genuine celebrity. It’s not hard to buy a Blue check mark, change your Twitter name (but not official Twitter handle – the part that goes with “@”), to something else like, “ElonMusk”, and swap in a photo of Musk. Only the eagle-eyed will spot the imposter in their Twitter stream.
Musk’s crusade to level the Twitter playing field is unlikely to go well and soon the only ‘verified’ accounts will be people who actively paid, as some have noted, to “look cool without being cool.“
The only question that remains is, will Musk stick with the 4/20 date or, as Musk and Twitter encounter more pushback, will it slide further out?
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