Twitter’s decision to remove blue ticks from non-subscribing accounts, as part of its new revenue-generating strategy called “Twitter Blue”, has drawn criticism from many users, including celebrities and media outlets.Twitter introduced the blue tick, or verification badge, in 2009 to confirm the authenticity of high-profile accounts, but in 2021, it made the badge a subscription-based feature for a fee of $8 per month.
On Thursday, 407,000 profiles lost their blue ticks due to not subscribing, although less than 5% of blue-tick users have subscribed to Twitter Blue. However, on Friday and Saturday, a number of celebrities, media outlets, and other high-profile accounts had their blue ticks reinstated without action on their part, and some dead celebrities, such as Anthony Bourdain, were also given blue ticks.
Many people who received blue ticks without subscribing expressed their dismay, saying they did not want to support Twitter Blue, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that he was paying for some subscriptions himself. American rapper Lil Nas X, whose account displays a blue tick, tweeted that he did not pay for the feature, adding, “u will feel my wrath Tesla man!” Meanwhile, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who had previously criticized Musk, said he was not paying for his blue tick.
Several media outlets regained their blue ticks, including AFP, which did not subscribe to Twitter Blue. The New York Times, which had been criticized by Musk as “propaganda,” also got back its gold badge this month after paying at least $1,000 a month for an “official business account.” However, some media outlets, including US public radio NPR and Canada’s public broadcaster CBC, did not regain their blue ticks and had suspended activity on their accounts.
These broadcasters were among those that protested Twitter’s labeling of their accounts as “state-affiliated” and “government-funded,” which was previously reserved for non-independent media funded by autocratic governments. On Friday, Twitter removed these labels, including those applied to China’s official news agency Xinhua and Russia’s RT.
Despite the reinstatement of blue ticks, Twitter’s decision to make the badge a paid feature has caused concern among some users, as it may exclude individuals and organizations that cannot afford to pay the fee. Moreover, the move has raised questions about Twitter’s commitment to combating misinformation and ensuring the authenticity of high-profile accounts. The blue tick was intended to help users identify real accounts and avoid fake or parody profiles, but now it is being used as a way for Twitter to generate revenue.
In conclusion, the reintroduction of blue ticks on Twitter has sparked controversy among users. While some view it as a positive move to improve the authenticity of high-profile accounts, others argue that it is an unnecessary way for Twitter to generate revenue. The fact that some accounts received the blue tick without their consent has also raised concerns about privacy and transparency.
Furthermore, the labeling of media accounts as “state-affiliated” or “government-funded” has sparked outrage, with some arguing that it is a way for Twitter to exert control over the media. The situation is still evolving, and it remains to be seen how Twitter will address these concerns and whether the platform’s user base will continue to grow or decline. However, it is clear that Twitter’s move to monetize the blue tick has stirred up a great deal of debate and could have significant implications for the future of social media.
In addition to the controversy surrounding the reintroduction of blue ticks, Twitter has also faced criticism over its new “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” labels. Some broadcasters, including US public radio NPR and Canada’s public broadcaster CBC, suspended activity on their accounts after being labelled as “government-funded” or “state-affiliated” by Twitter. The labels were originally intended for non-independent media funded by autocratic governments, and many felt that they did not apply to public broadcasters.
Twitter removed the labels on Friday, including those applied to China’s official news agency Xinhua and Russia’s RT. However, the move has not entirely satisfied critics, with some arguing that the labels should never have been applied in the first place.
The controversy surrounding the blue ticks and labels highlights the challenges that social media platforms face in balancing the interests of users, advertisers, and investors. Twitter has been under pressure to generate new revenue streams and increase its user base, while also dealing with concerns about the spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform.
The introduction of Twitter Blue, which allows users to pay for exclusive features such as the ability to undo tweets, was seen as a way for the company to generate new revenue. However, the decision to revoke blue ticks from non-paying users has sparked anger and frustration, particularly among those who feel that the badge of authenticity was earned through their hard work and engagement with followers.
It remains to be seen whether Twitter’s decision to reinstate blue ticks on some accounts will be enough to quell the backlash. With social media playing an increasingly important role in public discourse and political debate, the way that platforms like Twitter manage issues such as authenticity, transparency, and revenue generation will continue to be closely scrutinized.