Blue Checks: Why We Don’t Have to Charge for That? A Comment on Musk’s Twitter Takeover and the Case of Tony La Russa
Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover has been chaotic since its slapdash inception, so it’s only fitting that his first change will scramble the platform’s social hierarchy.
Shifting to a pay-to-play model undermines the original point of verification. In response to a lawsuit that Tony La Russa had filed against them, they launched blue checks to demonstrate that they were committed to controlling impersonation attempts. (La Russa was peeved that somebody was pretending to be him and cracking jokes at his expense.)
The blue check system did not cure all of the moderation problems on the platform, but it did help them operate as a platform. There’s a reason why every other major social platform, including Facebook and TikTok, cribbed the blue badges for their own networks. They have been at least moderately helpful.
People feel important because blue checks make them feel important. They tell the world who sits in the VIP section. (Another reason why they were copied by other networks. All of them wanted a velvet rope. It appears Musk sees them as the digital equivalent of a fancy watch or rare sneaker. Why don’t we charge for that? Viewed as a premium accessory, this would-be clout tax looks logical enough.
The new subscription service looks similar to Meta’s previous ones. For a fee of between $11 and $14.99 a month, you can get a blue “verified” mark, access to improved security features, and better visibility in search. Their comments will also be prioritized.
Twitter Blue: An Evolving Blue Badge for Expanding Access to Verification and Access to Account Accuracy and Public Figure Distinguishibility
Customers who want to get a blue Badge would need to provide a government ID that matches their picture and name in order to avoid fake accounts. Users must also be above 18 to be eligible.
In a statement, Meta clarified there will be no changes to accounts that are already verified. Verification was previously for users who are “authentic and notable.”
“We are evolving the meaning of the blue badge to focus on authenticity so we can expand verification access to more people,” a Meta spokesperson said. “We will display follower count in more places so people can distinguish which accounts are notable public figures among accounts that share the same name.”
Twitter Blue costs $11 a month for iOS and Android subscribers, part of owner Elon Musk’s attempt to raise its subscriptions business after buying the platform for $44 billion.
Additionally, users who sign up for the service will get exclusive stickers for Stories and Reels, and will also receive 100 free stars per month, or the digital currency you can use to tip creators on Facebook. You can only change your profile photo and usernames again once you have passed the verification process, as well as applying for a Meta Verified Badge.
“Long term, we want to build a subscription offering that’s valuable to everyone, including creators, businesses and our community at large,” Meta writes in a blog post. “As part of this vision, we are evolving the meaning of the verified badge so we can expand access to verification and more people can trust the accounts they interact with are authentic.”
Meta Blue: How the Twitterverse has Become More Inclusive and Disruptive: When Twitter Blue Meets Snapchat, Discord, and Web
When the service launches in Australia and New Zealand this week, it’ll cost $19.99 AUD on web and $24.99 AUD on mobile, or $23.99 NZD on web and $29.99 NZD on mobile. The higher cost on the two operating systems is an attempt to make up for the commission that both Apple and Google charge for in-app purchases.
The rumors about the services first surfaced this month when a report stated that there were references to paid verification in the source code. Social media consultant Matt Navarra later posted what appears to be a support page for paid verification on either the Australian or New Zealand-based version of Instagram.
However, Snapchat and Discord have also both introduced paid subscription tiers to users without a similar level of outrage, suggesting that the dislike of Twitter Blue could be linked to Musk himself and broader concerns about the platform.
Analysts say that while the move isn’t entirely out of character for Meta, it hints at a lack of innovation at the social media giant, which has laid off more than 11,000 workers since late last year and spent billions on its push into the metaverse, a technology with no clear business model.
The visibility of subscribers on the platform marks a significant change for users, since the security aspects of Meta subscription product have been emphasized.
Twitter’s attempts to make users pay for features, including more promotion by its algorithms, have been met with widespread criticism, and many have threatened to quit the platform, although there is no reliable data on how many people have followed through.