There has been a lot of confusion and legitimate skepticism since Twitter revealed plans to bundle verified blue checkmark badges with the $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription. The biggest concern is that the average Twitter user will be unable to distinguish between accounts that were previously verified based on their influence and importance and those that simply paid the $8 fee to obtain the blue badge.
Twitter has finally cleared the air on the verification debacle. Esther Crawford, the company’s spokesperson, revealed that some verified accounts that received the blue tick prior to Musk’s tenure will now have a “Official” text label on their profile pages. Accounts that simply paid for the blue check mark will not receive the official label treatment.
Crawford emphasizes that, unlike the blue verified badge, the “Official” label cannot be purchased. Instead, “government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers, and some public figures” will be exempt. According to Twitter, the official label is just one of several experimental ways to distinguish between accounts that paid for the verified badge and those that deserved it based on their importance. The new labeling system is merely a means to an end, not a foolproof solution.
A label for another label
The “Official” badge will be visible only when an account’s profile page is checked, which can be done by visiting the Twitter profile page URL or by hovering the cursor over the account name in a tweet to open it in a small window. In either case, it’s a hassle and an open invitation to scammers. Unsurprisingly, Twitter is to blame for the entire mess.
Since Musk first mentioned Twitter’s verification system, a number of people have suggested that the verification badge be colored. Twitter could reserve the blue badge for influential institutions and individuals, while a checkmark insignia of any other color would indicate that the account is run by a real person after identity verification, proving that it is not a bot.
Musk’s pay-to-get-the-blue-badge system, on the other hand, has only complicated the trust-building process that comes with a blue badge account. Because Twitter Blue does not require any form of identity verification, there is always the risk of bad actors funding a slew of paid verified accounts to wreak havoc, now with a veneer of legitimacy that was not previously possible. It’s also odd that, despite Musk’s embarrassingly bullish attitude toward selling the $8 per month subscription service, Twitter Blue could end up costing the company money. It will be interesting to see if Twitter makes a U-turn in this scenario, as it did with laid-off employees by requesting some of them to return.