The deadline for paying for blue checkmarks on Twitter has passed, and the blue ticks remain, albeit with a new disclaimer. Elon Musk had threatened to remove all blue checkmarks from Hollywood stars, professional athletes, business leaders, authors, and journalists unless they subscribed to the social media service. Musk’s aim was to move the advertising-dependent platform he bought for $44bn last year into a pay-to-play model and possibly antagonise some enemies and fellow elites in the process. However, the deadline has passed, and the blue checks are still there, many with a new disclaimer explaining that they may have been paid for or not paid for, and only Twitter knows. The company has not clarified its changing policies.
Matt Darling had been on Twitter for about 15 years and never cared about not having a blue checkmark, although he would get a kick out of it whenever a verified account of “real-world importance” followed him. Darling finally got a blue checkmark after paying $11 last month to try out some of the features that come with a Twitter Blue subscription. However, he used a technique to scrub the blue tick from his profile after seeing it becoming more of a “scarlet letter” under Musk than a symbol of credibility. Darling is planning to drop the subscription as he does not want Twitter to be pay-for-play but a place where people writing interesting tweets are getting engagement.
Instead of taking away the blue checkmarks, Twitter has appended a new message to profiles: “This account is verified because it’s subscribed to Twitter Blue or is a legacy verified account.” Hence, high-profile verified users like singer Dionne Warwick still have their blue checks. But so does anyone who pays between $8 and $11 a month for a Twitter Blue subscription, and there is no way to tell the difference. The hybrid solution was good enough for Star Trek actor William Shatner, who earlier baulked at signing up for a subscription but tweeted to Musk that he could live with it and that it was a good compromise. However, it is not clear if this is a temporary or permanent measure.
Twitter did take away at least one verified check over the weekend: from the main account of the New York Times newspaper. The account, which has 55 million followers, was previously marked with a gold-coloured check for verified organisations. However, a user pointed out to Musk over the weekend that the newspaper had said publicly it would not be paying a monthly fee for checkmark status, so Musk said he would remove the mark and also disparaged the newspaper’s reporting.