Forget Twitter Blue, Elon Musk introduces Twitter Grey.
In addition charging a monthly fee in order for users to keep their coveted blue verified ticks, Twitter will introduce a second, less visible gray tick designed to distinguish government accounts, companies, mainstream media and some public figures. The official gray badge, unlike its blue counterpart, will be free, but not everyone who currently owns a blue tick will qualify.
Esther Crawford, head of Early Stage Products on Twitter, announced the feature on Tuesday, sharing a screenshot of what the official label might look like. The image below shows an official Twitter account profile (with a large blue verified badge next to its name) followed by a gray check under the account caption accompanied by the text “Official”. The gray badge appeared under the official Twitter account when Gizmodo checked on Wednesday that the badge was already applied to some accounts. The New York Times White House and other prominent accounts also carried the badge.
“Lots of people have asked how you’ll be able to tell the difference between @TwitterBlue followers with a blue tick and accounts that are verified as official, so we’re introducing the ‘Official’ label to select accounts at launch. ” wrote Crawford. In addition, Crawford said the paid blue checkmarks would notably not include identity verification, which some critics have pushed as an additional security measure to help weed out impersonator accounts.
Twitter, Reuters comment, rushed to implement an official account badge after senior domestic policy officials expressed concern that some government officials were unlikely to pay the new monthly subscription to keep their blue verified badge. This lack of a free alternative could then lead to users being confused about the identity of the leading words, which could potentially encourage the spread of misinformation.
Although it was introduced with admirable intentions, former Twitter board member Jason Goldman described the new multi-collar badge system to Reuters as “an absolute mess.”
The label’s official addition represents the latest compromise in Musk’s dogged but disorganized effort to squeeze every last penny he can out of Twitter’s coveted verification badges.
Last week, Musk went public with plan charge Twitter users $8 per month to maintain or obtain a blue verified badge. The badge, at least in this iteration of Musk’s rapidly evolving vision, will also be made available to Twitter Blue subscribers. The billionaire CEO called the site’s previous authentication method “bullshit.”
If the $96 annual fee sounds a little steep for a silly blue badge, it’s worth noting that Musk has previously considered charging even more. Earlier reports from The Verge and elsewhere he claimed Musk has toyed with the idea of charging up to $20 a month for the badge. The idea drew massive backlash from a number of prominent Twitter users, including author Stephen King he tweeted to his 6.9 million followers “shit, they should pay me.” Musk responded to King and offered an $8 per month option as an alternative. “We have to pay the bills somehow!” written by the richest man in the world.
If that wasn’t enough, Musk is said to be too with respect to placing all of Twitter behind a paid paywall, a move that could bring in additional revenue but also runs counter to Twitter’s long-standing approach to a relatively open platform.
That’s all to say that any policy or monetization changes announced by Twitter in the coming weeks should probably be taken with a grain of salt, at least until the dust settles from the company’s whirlwind takeover.
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