If you thought Twitter’s blue checkmark saga couldn’t get any weirder, prepare to be surprised. Shortly after removing the blue checkmarks from users who haven’t subscribed to Twitter’s $8-a-month Twitter Blue, some celebrities got their checkmarks back without paying or asking for them.
At first it seemed Elon Musk, the CEO and owner of Twitter, had done it out of spite. But now, basically all celebrities with a significant following have gotten their checkmark back.
Twitter has a surprising ‘no refunds’ policy for rejected gold check applicants
And it’s not because they paid for it. In fact, the number of Twitter Blue subscribers increased by very little after the checkmark purge, and numerous Twitter users who have their checkmark back have commented(opens in a new tab) that it happened(opens in a new tab) without them paying(opens in a new tab).
Musk previously said he personally paid(opens in a new tab) for the blue ticks of William Shatner, LeBron James, and Stephen King, but he didn’t comment on all of the other ticks that have reappeared since.
It’s worth pointing out that Musk originally said(opens in a new tab) that Twitter’s old checkmark system was inaccurate as the checkmarks were “often” handed out “arbitrarily,” which was one of the reasons he gave for tying the checkmark to a Twitter Blue subscription.
Right now, however, the system appears to be as arbitrary as ever. Some accounts got the checkmark back and some didn’t, and it appears that the main criteria is the number of followers. Mashable’s own Matt Binder, who is among those who got the checkmark back without subscribing to Twitter Blue, claims he’s now been auto-subscribed to Twitter Blue without the ability to cancel the plan(opens in a new tab), and the same thing happened to writer Neil Gaiman.
This could cause legal problems for Twitter. As one user pointed out(opens in a new tab), tying a person’s identity to a product or service without their consent can be seen as false endorsement. Popular Twitter account @dril(opens in a new tab), belonging to Los Angeles writer Paul Dochney, commented that Musk may have(opens in a new tab) “fired the people in charge of telling him its illegal,” hinting at the massive layoffs of Twitter employees under Musk’s tenure. Incidentally, @dril was among the accounts who got the checkmark without paying for Twitter Blue, though his checkmark was quickly removed and is gone at the time of writing.
The issues with tying the blue checkmark to a paid subscription tier were fairly obvious and pointed out (including by Mashable) before the new system (which was hastily changed a few times already) was implemented. But it appears that the main problem is that a verification system that relies on people paying for it crumbles very fast if the majority of said people simply refuse to pay for it.