What is happening at Twitter with blue ticks and 'Official' labels?

It has been a chaotic few days as Elon Musk makes changes at the social media platform

Elon Musk bought Twitter in a $44 billion deal. Days into his tenure, confusion reigns as he makes alterations, even admitting that some of the changes will be 'dumb'. Reuters
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Blue ticks, grey ticks, "official" labels. It's all become a little confusing on Twitter in the past few days.

Elon Musk, Twitter's new owner following his $44 billion purchase, is trying to change the landscape at the social media platform.

But only days into his tenure, confusion reigns as he makes alterations, even admitting that some of the changes will be "dumb".

What is happening with the verification?

Firstly, Mr Musk, the world's richest person, introduced an $8 per month Twitter Blue subscription plan for verification, giving subscribers the blue tick.

The idea was that it would help to cut down on the spam and bot accounts on the site, which led to Mr Musk attempting to pull out of the deal before it was eventually completed six months after his initial offer.

The fee also creates a new revenue stream at a time when Twitter is losing $4 million a day, according to Mr Musk.

Twitter Blue users get to post longer videos and get priority ranking in replies, mentions and searches, plus see fewer adverts.

Who is eligible for Twitter Blue?

This is where the waters start to muddy.

Only accounts subscribed to Twitter Blue on iOS on or after November 9, 2022, are eligible for the blue checkmark, Twitter says at its Help Centre.

"As a result of this change, at this time, Twitter will no longer be accepting new applications for Verification under the previous criteria.

"Note that all accounts subscribed to Twitter Blue on iOS on or after November 9, 2022, will automatically receive a blue checkmark, which will persist for the duration of the subscribers’ subscription term."

So, it is currently available only on iOS in the US, Canada, Australia New Zealand and the UK.

Mr Musk tweeted that the intention is to roll it out worldwide.

"Roll-out of new verified Blue is intentionally limited just to iOS in a few countries with very little promotion," he said. "As we iron out issues, we will expand worldwide on all platforms."

He added that "in days to come, we’ll add granularity to verified badge, such as organisational affiliation & ID verification".

Currently, Blue subscribers are not required to verify who they are.

Accounts that receive the blue checkmark as part of a Twitter Blue subscription will not undergo review to confirm that they meet the active, notable and authentic criteria that were used in the previous process.

Then an 'official' profile label was introduced …

Yes, this was a grey tick, which accompanied the blue tick on a user's profile.

However, it wasn't around for long.

Product manager Esther Crawford was tweeting about the introduction of the new label, and then provided an update from Twitter Support saying the "Official" label is not being put on "but we are aggressively going after impersonation and deception".

Mr Musk had deemed it “an aesthetic nightmare” and had it removed just hours after introducing it.

"Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t," he tweeted.

The idea for the official label was that it would distinguish Blue subscribers from those the platform has verified as official.

However, it seemed to just make the whole system more confusing, especially when users saw that they had the "Official" badge, and then hours later it was gone.

"The problem with Official is that, apart from it being an aesthetic nightmare when looking at the Twitter feed, is that it was simply another way of creating a two-class system,” said Mr Musk in a call to advertisers

“Therefore, it wasn’t addressing the core problem: (that) there are too many entities that would be considered official or have sort of legacy blue check marks.”

What else did Mr Musk have to say?

He seems to think the new verification systems will tackle deception — he told advertisers that Twitter is going to be "extremely vigorous" in this area.

"So, if someone tries to impersonate a brand, that account will be suspended, and we will keep their eight dollars," he said.

"And they can keep doing that, and we will just keep their eight dollars again, and again — great — we can do it all day long, they will stop.

"So, the key point here is if an account is engaged in trickery, we will suspend it.

"They will try, of course, they will try.

"But it starts to get expensive, and they will start to need a lot of credit cards and a lot of phones — and eventually they will stop paying."

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Updated: November 10, 2022, 3:14 PM
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