Elon Musk's Twitter begins to remove unpaid blue check marks

ByClare Duffy, CNNWire
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Twitter launches $8 monthly subscription with blue check ahead of elections
Twitter on Saturday launched a subscription service for $7.99 a month that includes a blue check now given to verified accounts.

Elon Musk's Twitter on Thursday began a purge of blue verification checkmarks from users who have not signed up for its subscription service, with the checks disappearing from the accounts of journalists, academics and some celebrities.

The initial rollout of the change appeared to be fairly glitchy, as blue checks disappeared and reappeared on some accounts. A number of high-profile verified accounts also didn't seem to lose their checks, at least at first.

NOTE: The video in the media player is from a previous report.

Twitter had previously said it would "begin winding down" blue checks granted under its old verification system - which emphasized protecting high-profile users at risk of impersonation - on April 1. In order to stay verified, Musk said, users would have to pay $8 per month to join the platform's Twitter Blue subscription service, which has allowed accounts to pay for verification since December.

Instead, Twitter removed the check mark from a single account from The New York Times, a publication Musk has repeatedly criticized, and changed the language on its site in a way that obscures why users are verified.

Last week, Musk tweeted that the "final date for removing legacy Blue checks is 4/20," a date with special resonance to the billionaire entrepreneur given its meaning to marijuana enthusiasts.

The decision to move forward with the change, after some confusing messaging, is just the latest example of Musk's Twitter upending the experience for users - and in this case, not just any users, but many of the most high-profile accounts that have long been a key selling point for the platform.

Prominent users such as actor William Shatner and anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinksy have previously pushed back against the idea that, as power users that draw attention to the site, they should have to pay for a feature that keeps them safe from impersonation.

Musk, for his part, has previously presented changes to Twitter's verification system as a way of "treating everyone equally."

"There shouldn't be a different standard for celebrities," he said in an earlier tweet. The paid feature could also drive revenue, which could help Musk, who is on the hook for significant debt after buying Twitter for $44 billion.

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