Elon Musk has set a date for the Twitter Blue relaunch

16 Nov 2022

Elon Musk. Image: Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Starting 29 November, Twitter users will be able to pay $8 a month to get a blue tick. Meanwhile, legacy verified accounts are in trouble.

After seemingly opening a Pandora’s box with the launch of a new Twitter Blue subscription on iOS earlier this month – only to rescind days later – Elon Musk is going at it again.

The billionaire owner of Twitter now plans to relaunch the $8 per month subscription that gives users a ‘verified’ tick next to their username on 29 November. He tweeted that the launch is being pushed out to “make sure that it is rock solid”.

Soon after he took over the platform late last month, Musk indicated that a paid subscription to get verified was coming to Twitter to “give power to the people”.

A blue tick mark next to a username was previously free, but typically reserved for high-profile figures, companies and users who had been verified as trustworthy sources.

Musk’s proposals caused confusion around whether existing blue tick users would retain their verified status – and how they would be distinguished from the new paid subscribers.

Days later, a new ‘Official’ label started rolling out on some legacy verified accounts, such as those belonging to governments, politicians and news outlets, to distinguish them from an incoming wave of blue ticks on accounts that have not been verified.

The label was rolled back soon after, and then rolled out again, causing much confusion on the platform.

Chaos ensued with many paying to get a blue tick and then changing their account names to impersonate notable figures or companies.

One user impersonated pharma giant Eli Lilly and tweeted that insulin is “now free”. The real Eli Lilly account responded on Twitter, apologising for the misleading message and linking to its actual account.

Another person used the new subscription system to get verified as a Nintendo US Twitter account. This impersonation account then posted multiple offensive images and videos.

This led many major advertising agencies to advise clients against buying ads on Twitter. GroupM, which is part of the world’s largest ad agency WPP, even declared that advertising on Twitter is now “high risk”.

Esther Crawford, head of early-stage products at Twitter, tweeted last week that the new Twitter Blue “does not include ID verification”, but is instead a paid subscription that offers a blue check mark “and access to select features”.

While the future of existing verified accounts has been up in the air for a while, it seems like there’s bad news for those who previously had blue ticks. Musk added in his latest thread about the Twitter Blue relaunch that all unpaid legacy blue check marks “will be removed in a few months”.

Responding to a user who asked him if the ‘Official’ label will be used for celebrities and other notable figures, Musk said: “Hard to say who’s celeb and who isn’t. Being able to sort by follower count and disallowing deliberate impersonation probably solves this.”

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Elon Musk. Image: Thomas Hawk via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic