Elon Musk Deploys And Then Kills New 'Official' Checkmark on Twitter
Billionaire Elon Musk has only owned Twitter for a few weeks, but there are already big changes afoot. Musk has been open about his dislike for Twitter's verification setup, which he referred to as a "lords & peasants system." His vision for the blue checkmark is starting to appear on the service, but not in a finished form, it would seem.
In the pre-Musk era, the blue checkmark was a coveted identifier for those accounts that were sufficiently notable that Twitter employees verified the user's identity. Some people, including Musk, complained about the company's decision not to verify controversial figures. When Musk completed his purchase of the company for $44 billion, he promised to make the checkmark part of his revamped Twitter Blue subscription, which will cost $8 per month.
The first elements of the reworked system appeared briefly on Wednesday in the form of a gray "Official" banner. According to Twitter employee Esther Crawford, the gray banner under the username was supposed to be applied to important "government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures." We say was because just a few hours after the feature appeared, Musk tweeted that he killed it. He followed up by saying that Twitter will do a lot of "dumb things" during the transition, which doesn't seem like the sort of thing to announce when advertisers are already pulling back.
So, the specifics for notable accounts are still up in the air, but there's one other important tidbit. According to Crawford, the new Twitter Blue doesn't include verification. That's what the blue checkmark always signified in the past. It's unclear if the company would even have the ability to verify all paid subscribers after Musk laid off about half the company's workforce. We may be headed for an experience in which the blue checkmark only means someone has subscribed to Twitter Blue, and that doesn't seem like something you need to know about the accounts that appear in your timeline.
Musk has a reputation for being very hands-on with the companies he runs, sometimes changing policies and features on a whim. He's frequently announced vague initiatives and updates for Tesla in tweets, but announcing changes on Twitter while you're actively changing Twitter is a new level of Muskiness.