Check marks — The verification check marks on Twitter is a process by which Twitter verifies the authenticity of an account and confirms that it belongs to the person or entity it claims to represent.
This verification is indicated by a blue check mark next to the account’s name on Twitter.
The purpose of this process is to help users identify the authenticity of the account and to prevent impersonation or misrepresentation.
To be eligible for verification, an account must meet certain criteria, including being active, complete, and public, as well as meeting Twitter’s guidelines for verification.
The verification process involves submitting an application to Twitter and providing documentation to support the request.
However, ever since Tesla CEO Elon Musk took over the social media giant, the blue check marks have taken a new turn.
Days earlier, Twitter removed the check marks from VIP users and prominent organizations.
However, the check marks reappeared on high-profile accounts, with many of the users saying they didn’t ask for it or want a new verification badge.
Several accounts of deceased figures have also been noted to receive their verification marks, leaving many to question how many badges Twitter is distributing without charging the users.
A declining value
The recent Twitter check mark situation highlighted how Elon Musk eroded the value of the blue check.
It is especially noteworthy that he is working to drive subscription revenue for the company following a massive drop in the core advertising business.
The blue check mark had once been an online status symbol that authenticated influential accounts.
However, the symbol has evolved into a source of confusion due to Musk’s decision to monetize it.
This past weekend, several high-profile figures announced that they were punished with verification check marks.
Several celebrities and key figures like authors Neil Geiman and Stephen King expressed difficulties getting the check marks removed.
The celebrity backlash and Twitter’s decision to restore some badges at its own expense only highlighted the gaps in Musk’s plan and execution.
Additionally, it showed how out of the loop Musk is from celebrity users who produced content to help keep the social media platform popular.
Ironically, Elon Musk slammed the company’s legacy approach in 2022, which verified celebrities, news organizations, and government accounts.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or who doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit,” he said in November 2022.
“Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”
The new Twitter CEO then rolled out a paid verification option as part of the subscription product Twitter Blue.
He also removed legacy blue check marks from accounts, leading to consequences like waves of impersonation and potential for new scams and misinformation.
Musk’s attempts to address the errors only prompted him to make a u-turn, implementing the system he previously criticized.
However, things are different today as Elon Musk is at the helm, making verification less transparent.
Rather than symbolizing authenticity, Twitter verification is now riddled with conflicting messages.
For some, it reflects a loyalty pledge and support for the direction Musk is guiding the company.
Meanwhile, those who received a badge without asking for it view the check mark as a symbol of shame or embarrassment.
Others, however, consider it a mark of gullibility.
Independent researcher Travis Brown has kept tabs on the tally of paying Twitter users.
The past few days had a net increase of 12,000 Twitter Blue accounts, mounting to 551,517.
Before going private, the figures showed more than 237 million active users.
Several big-name users refused to pay, and Musk explained he was personally covering their subscriptions.
Last weekend, several check marks were restored, appearing on influential users who claimed they didn’t pay for them.
A fading symbol
Elon Musk’s initial plan seemed to depend on leveraging verification’s current cachet as a status symbol to increase subscriptions.
While there were other features in the subscription product, the verification option was the main driver.
However, changing the meaning of the verification transformed the check mark’s value proposition.
Supporters of the new system criticized those opposed to it.