Confusion: To whom and why is the blue tick back?

8 mins read

Twitter has restored the blue checkmark for many high-profile accounts, but it seems that some celebrities don’t want it.

Just a few days after Twitter removed the blue verification checkmark from accounts that did not pay for its Twitter Blue subscription system, it has reinstated the blue checkmarks on a number of high-profile celebrity accounts with large followings.

Many account holders, including celebrities, social media influencers and journalists, who had the checkmark reappeared on their accounts said they had not signed up for the $8 monthly subscription service.

Actor Elijah Wood on Sunday became one of the first people to notice the reappearance of the blue check mark just three days after saying goodbye to it. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson seemed more surprised than angry at the sudden return of the blue tick, writing in a message, “The universe is full of mysteries.”

On Sunday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman posted a screenshot of her verified account, along with a statement that she had subscribed to Twitter Blue, with the note “(Not subscribed)”.

MIT posted a similar statement on Saturday: “We have not subscribed to Twitter Blue.”

It was reported that no payment was made for the gold checkmark returned to the BBC News account.

Popular user Dril, famous for sharing absurd jokes, said he received a blue checkmark after tweeting using the hashtag #BlockTheBlueChecks.

Another recipient of the unwanted badge was Matt Binder from Mashable. Binder described this move as Musk’s ‘first funny thing’.

After economist and Times columnist Paul Krugman said he had ‘nothing to do’ with the reappearance of the blue tick, Twitter owner Musk tweeted him a photo of a crying baby.

World celebrities such as Beyoncé, Harry Kane and Victoria Beckham are among those who have taken back the blue ticks on their accounts. This growing list includes many actors and musicians such as Bette Midler, Ian McKellen and Jason Alexander.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as more and more ex-users are reporting getting a checkmark for Twitter Blue without paying for it.

How many followers does an account need to have to get a blue tick again? Yes, this part is a bit complicated and it’s a question we don’t know the answer to yet. Some sources report that high-profile accounts with more than one million followers have had their blue ticks restored. However, according to the BBC, actor Ryan Reynolds, who also owns Wrexham football club, has more than 21 million followers and (for now) does not have a blue tick.

Forbes notes that some accounts with less than 1 million followers also have their blue checkmark back. It is also reported that some accounts with fewer followers have had their blue ticks restored ‘at the sole discretion of Elon Musk’.

If you remember, Musk said that he personally paid for some famous and high-profile names, including author Stephen King, actor William Shatner and basketball player Lebron James, who criticized the company’s verification policy.

And it’s not just ‘living celebrities’ who have had their verification status restored. Last Thursday, the platform began removing old verifications and showing the blue checkmark only on profiles that have paid for the subscription service.

Accounts belonging to celebrities who are no longer with us, such as Hugo Chavez, Kobe Bryant, Chester Bennington, Anthony Bourdain, Chadwick Boseman and Michael Jackson, all showed the blue checkmark and a note that they had subscribed to Twitter Blue.

The mysterious return of blue ticks and the background

Blue checkmarks were originally used as an authentication tool designed to help stop fake accounts and the spread of misinformation.

Now there is a symbol to indicate that the account is subscribed to a premium service called Twitter Blue, and a verification process that depends on payment. Prices vary depending on where the subscription is made, but are around $8 per month.

When Twitter took the additional step of de-badging prominent users earlier this week, a sharp contrast emerged between Twitter Blue subscribers with a blue badge and verified users (many of whom are known for creating the content that makes Twitter valuable).

Those who had a blue badge during the initial verification process but decided not to pay the subscription fee began to lose their badges on April 20. But over the weekend Twitter said ‘here’s a blue tick for you’ and some accounts got their verification marks back in an interesting way. What makes this even more frustrating for many longtime users is that Twitter Blue membership is now associated with Elon Musk fandom.

Twitter Blue already had a troubled launch, delayed considerably after fake accounts pretending to be real were uncovered. When Musk took over, he said the company’s finances were in dire straits and Twitter was losing $4 million a day.

Twitter has so far not disclosed how many people have chosen to become paid subscribers, but Sensor Tower estimates that the platform has around 386,000 subscribers. This figure does not include subscriptions through the website rather than the app, but it is still a small fraction of its user base of around 300 million.

The mysterious return of the blue ticks is a surprising twist in what has certainly been an exhausting story. We will continue to report on developments on the Twitter side.

Compiled from Forbes, BBC and Mashable news.

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