Twitter to un-verify people who don't pay $8/month starting on April Fools' Day
Four and a half months after the chaotic rollout of paid checkmarks, Elon Musk's Twitter is following through on a plan to remove verification from individual accounts that don't pay $8 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription.
"Starting April 1, we'll be winding down our legacy Verification program and accounts that were verified under the previous criteria (active, notable, and authentic) will not retain a blue checkmark unless they are subscribed to Twitter Blue," a Twitter FAQ says. Twitter also stopped accepting applications for verification checkmarks under the old criteria.
"To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue here," Twitter said yesterday. "Organizations can sign up for Verified Organizations here."
The change means that many accounts deemed notable by Twitter before Musk bought the company will no longer be verified. As we've noted, that could make it easier for scammers to impersonate real people even when the scammers don't purchase blue checks. After a verified person loses their checkmark, a scammer could pretend to be that person, and there would be no verified account to point to prove the scammer is fake.
Twitter also announced yesterday that it is "accepting applications for grey checkmarks for eligible government and multilateral accounts." Twitter now has several checkmarks with different colors to indicate the type of account.
Musk reportedly ignored warnings about scammers
When paid checkmarks first rolled out in November, Musk reportedly ignored internal warnings from Twitter's trust and safety team that scammers would abuse paid verification. The paid checkmarks fueled a wave of imposter accounts, and Musk temporarily halted the paid verification scheme after just two days. "Basically, tricking people is not OK," Musk admonished Twitter users at the time.
Musk relaunched paid checkmarks in December but didn't say exactly when he'd implement the original plan of removing checkmarks from what Twitter now calls "legacy verified" accounts. The updated version of Twitter Blue has some rules to limit abuse of paid checkmarks, such as requirements that an "account must be older than 90 days upon subscription and have a confirmed phone number," and "have no recent changes to your profile photo, display name, or username."
Meanwhile, Twitter announced yesterday that Twitter Blue is now available globally. "Sign up today to get your blue checkmark, prioritized ranking in conversations, half ads, long Tweets, Bookmark Folders, custom navigation, Edit Tweet, Undo Tweet, and more," Twitter's announcement said.
But as The Verge pointed out, the prioritized ranking feature and the perk of seeing 50 percent fewer ads aren't available yet. Those two perks are listed as "coming soon" when you click the link to sign up for Twitter Blue.