Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Twitter restores blue tick free of charge to celebrities in U-turn

Twitter restores blue tick free of charge to celebrities in U-turn


Twitter restores blue tick free of charge to celebrities in U-turn

Twitter has again U-turned over its verification policy, restoring the "blue tick" free of charge to celebrity users of the social network.

But the site's decision to reinstate the "verified" status without distinguishing between paid-for and free users has led to criticism for false advertising, since the boilerplate disclaimer for those users inaccurately describes their status as being granted "because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue".

The social network ended its old verification system on Friday 20 April, a date apparently chosen because of its significance in cannabis culture, and in the process stripped all "legacy" users of the blue checkmark that indicated their account was genuine.

But the move, which left only those users who had paid for Twitter's subscription service with a checkmark, had unforeseen consequences for Elon Musk, the social network's owner and chief executive.

Rather than encouraging pre-existing verified users to splash out the subscription fee, which starts at $8 a month, the overwhelming majority simply continued using the site. Public data shows that fewer than 500 of the 400,000 legacy users signed up, and almost as many users cancelled their subscription at the same time, for a net revenue increase of less than $300 a month.

As a result, a blue tick on the social network rapidly came to mark out a user as paying for the privilege, leading to a grassroots campaign to "block the blue", with users committing to blocking subscribers on sight.

Not every user with a blue tick had paid for it themselves, however. On Friday, Musk revealed that three had received one for free: Stephen King, LeBron James and William Shatner. Over the weekend, that number drastically increased, with almost every celebrity user with more than 1 million followers receiving a new blue tick (with one notable exception: Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and of the decentralised Twitter competitor Bluesky, who did not get a new verification mark).

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