UPDATE: Elon Musk has ‘killed’ the new ‘official’ badges, just three hours after they were launched. Musk says that Twitter will ‘do lots of dumb things’ in the coming months, while also noting that the blue check will be ‘the great leveler’.
UPDATE: No, Twitter now says that it is launching the new ‘official’ tick, just not for all ‘official’ users to begin with.
UPDATE: Twitter’s changed its mind again:
We’re not currently putting an “Official” label on accounts but we are aggressively going after impersonation and deception.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 9, 2022
So now, no gray ticks. Probably.
On the eve of the launch of Twitter’s new $8 per month verification process, which will enable everybody to buy a prestigious blue checkmark for their account, Twitter has recognized that there is, actually, a need for an official marker for certain accounts, as a means to combat potential fraud.
But rather than revise its hastily formulated $8 checkmark scheme, it’s, confusingly, come up with an alternative solution – adding another indicator for selected accounts that recognizes that this is an ‘official’ identity.
As you can see in this image, posted by Twitter’s Esther Crawford, some accounts will get a new, gray tick, that will appear beneath their username on their profile, which will denote that this is an ‘official’ account.
So it’s exactly like the blue checkmark, but only for those that Twitter’s new management deems worthy of this ‘official’ recognition, which, thus far, will include ‘government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures’.
In other words not journalists. Elon has made his perspective on journalists pretty clear, that he doesn’t see them as any more credible than anyone else. So now, he’ll be able to revoke their verification status, in his own way.
A key weakness, however, is that the gray tick will not be displayed on individual tweets – so if a user wants to confirm that they are interacting with an actual, ‘official’ Twitter account of a brand/celebrity, they’ll need to tap through to their full profile to see it.
Seems like it would be easier to just stick with the current system, as blue ticks do appear on tweets, while at the same time, Twitter could add this new gray checkmark as an indicator that a user has confirmed their ID, thereby facilitating the need to verify human users.
So why not take that approach instead – which is what Facebook used to do with business accounts?
Because people won’t pay for that.
Because it’s not actually about verification and confirming real humans on the platform, it’s about making money. People want blue checkmarks, and Elon knows that at least some users will pay for them, while actually verifying people’s documentation, through whatever means, is labor intensive, which would mean increasing costs, which is the opposite aim of this initial push.
And note, Twitter has confirmed that ID verification will not be part of this new $8 per month package.
The new Twitter Blue does not include ID verification – it’s an opt-in, paid subscription that offers a blue checkmark and access to select features. We’ll continue to experiment with ways to differentiate between account types.
— Esther Crawford ✨ (@esthercrawford) November 8, 2022
So the term ‘verification’ is pretty misleading here, no?
Look, I get the logic from a business perspective, I just don’t think that it should be sold as something that it’s not – while invoking this as an element of some sort of class war, in alignment with ideological beliefs, is just another way to take advantage of the many ‘free speech’ advocates.
But it’s your $8, and very soon, you’ll have the chance to wire it through to Elon’s account.