Well, this sure clears things up.
Twitter has been fielding widespread criticism for its plan to charge for the coveted “blue tick”, which in the days before Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company used to mean simply that the account sporting it was actually run by the person or entity it purported to be. Twitter introduced the feature in 2009 after being sued by a former Major League Baseball manager who was being impersonated on the service. Because it wasn’t easy to get verified, verification became a status symbol, commenting derisively about “blue checks” became a common pastime on the platform, and de-verification was deployed as a consequence of violating the terms of service or (even before he bought Twitter) pretending to be Italian Elon Musk.
But verification is also a crucial way to distinguish which information is coming from reliable sources — official government accounts, for instance, or politicians. Elon-Twitter’s hastily rolled-out plan to allow anyone with a spare $20 $8 a month to be “verified” — without any actual identity verification involved — rendered the tick essentially meaningless, as all it will tell you is who was either verified before this week when the new scheme is scheduled to kick in or is paying for Twitter Blue now. Instead of rolling this doomed monetization plan back, what remains of Team Twitter is doubling down.
Esther Crawford, Twitter’s director of Product Management, tweeted on Tuesday evening that upon the launch of the new Blue, the platform would introduce the Official label, which consists of a gray tick and the word “Official” under the username on a profile. The tick looks just like the old verification/new Blue tick, a little checkmark inside a scalloped circle, except the verified circle is filled in in blue and the gray one is just an outline. Accounts will apparently be able to have two ticks, if they are an Official account that’s also a paid Twitter Blue account. Under the current plan, accounts verified under the old actual-verification scheme will not be stripped of their blue ticks, which will look exactly the same as the new Blue ones. With me so far?
“Not all previously verified accounts will get the ‘Official’ label and the label is not available for purchase,” Crawford explained. “Accounts that will receive it include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures.”
Crawford (or the account purporting to be her, at least) did not preview whether the label would be displayed in the Twitter timeline alongside display names as blue/Blue ticks currently are, which raises the question of whether having to tap or click through to a profile every time you want to be sure you’re retweeting an Official account is going to be a bit too much friction for the average user to RT responsibly every time.
(While Crawford’s profile says she works at Twitter, it does not have a tick of any kind, so this reporter sought further confirmation. Her LinkedIn appears legit, she’s been replied to by verified former Twitter employees, and she even went mildly viral for sleeping at Twitter HQ last week, so it does appear this account is genuinely hers. But if not even sleeping on the office floor and leading a team that’s apparently shipping not one but two brand new features in a week is enough to earn her an old-fashioned tick, we should assume that going forward, working at Twitter doesn’t mean you’ll have any way of verifying on your Twitter account that you actually work at Twitter.)
Mashable has reached out to whoever still works at Twitter to confirm the details shared about the feature.
Twitter Blue — the updated Elon-era version that comes with select features and a blue tick which doesn’t actually mean anything except that you’ve paid for a blue tick — is due to roll out tomorrow, Nov. 9. Originally slated to begin this past Monday, the launch was pushed to the day after the 2022 midterm elections, at least partially due to concerns about disinformation that could be spread by legitimate-looking paid accounts on Election Day. How fortunate that from Wednesday onwards, that definitely won’t be a problem at all.
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