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Confusion reigns as Musk tries to fix Twitter’s blue ticks

By Tom Flynn
10 November 2022

By Tom Flynn

Twitter’s ‘blue tick’ verification system is a critical part of the platform’s operation. A social media channel where notable figures from Presidents of the United States to pop stars can reach their audiences, unfiltered, desperately needs a way to sort the impersonators from the genuine articles. But the blue tick system has always been chaotic and inconsistent. The bar for entry to this exclusive club has changed repeatedly over the years, with the result being that blue ticks are possessed by some celebrities, politicians, journalists and notable figures but not others, whilst some people are verified despite there being no obvious reason why.

Reform has been needed for some time and it is to Elon Musk’s credit that he has recognised this. However, his approach so far has confused rather than helped the situation. His initial suggestion was that anyone who paid a monthly subscription could become verified (first $20, then suddenly reduced to $8 seemingly because of a tweet by author Stephen King about whether it was worth the higher sum). This removed the entire original purpose of verification – not as a status symbol, but as a protection for journalistic integrity, as well as preventing scams or safeguarding issues that could emerge from malevolent impersonators. 

On 8th November, Twitter announced a new ‘official’ status – a white tick under the blue tick which would mark accounts out as ‘notable’. This was then rolled out, seemingly at random, to some verified accounts but not others – Hillary Clinton didn’t get one and neither did Stephen King (possibly a petty revenge for the aforementioned tweet). Even Elon Musk himself missed out.

The white tick lasted hours before being abolished and has today been replaced with a system where both paying Twitter Blue customers and notable figures have a blue tick, but if you click through to the profile and click on the tick, it tells you whether they are a paying customer or ‘notable in government, news, entertainment or another designated category’.

Chaos continues to reign at Twitter and will do for some time. One investor who backed Musk’s bid for the platform said that he expects about ten percent of the entrepreneur’s ideas to ‘stick’ with the rest being abandoned quickly if not successful.

So, what is the future for verification on Twitter? The only person who knows is Musk and he’s changing his mind all the time. By the time you’re reading this he will probably have changed it again.