Twitter starts removing blue checkmarks from verified accounts

Twitter starts removing blue checkmarks from verified accounts

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter on Thursday began removing checkmark icons from the profiles of thousands of celebrities, politicians and journalists, in one of the most visible indicators of how Elon Musk is changing the business.

A checkmark had for years signified that Twitter had verified the identity of the user behind an account, and the icon was considered a status symbol. But under Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, the social media service began charging individuals $8 a month to maintain their verified status. Mr Musk said those who do not pay will lose their ticks.

The transition was difficult. Mr. Musk initially offered to charge $20 a month for verification, but he lowered the price after the blowback. He also said previously verified accounts would lose their badges in early April, but few did.

As Twitter began removing checkmarks from accounts on Thursday, some users said they noticed the symbols disappearing and then reappearing on their profiles.

“We are removing old verified checkmarks,” the company said in a statement on Twitter. “To stay verified on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue.”

Paying the subscription fee will come with other benefits, Musk said, including more prominent placement in Twitter conversations.

But some celebrities complained that the change would lead to increased impersonation, as their identities would no longer be confirmed. In November, an impostor account with a check mark claimed to be pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and tweeted that it would provide free insulin to its customers, sending Eli Lilly shares plummeting.

“Having a blue tick now means you’re more likely to be a complete loser and desperately need validation from famous people,” said musician Doja Cat. tweeted this month after losing his verification badge.

Some celebrities said they would ditch Twitter altogether, while others ignored the change but refused to pay.

“Welp I guess my blue ✔ will be gone soon because if you know me I won’t pay,” basketball star LeBron James said in a Tweeter last month. But Mr James appeared to be a Twitter Blue follower on Thursday, and his account retained its tick. Mr. Musk said on Twitter that he had personally paid a few accounts to retain their checkmarks, including that of Mr. James.

In addition to charging individual users $8 per month, Twitter planned to charge organizations $1,000 per month for verification with a gold check mark, with some exceptions, according to internal documents viewed by The New York Times. Exceptions were set to include Twitter’s top 500 advertisers and top 10,000 organizations that were previously verified.


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