Twitter’s chief, Elon Musk, has announced that the removal of all legacy blue checkmarks on the app will be on April 20th. Initially, the plan was to remove them from April 1st, but Musk delayed the action to coincide with 4/20, an unofficial holiday for cannabis culture. While some think it’s hilarious, others speculate that the move is driven by spite as Musk takes joy in removing the checkmark from accounts that he doesn’t like, particularly publishers that he considers biased or overtly against him.
Twitter plans to address corruption and inequity within its previous verification system with the removal of the legacy blue ticks. But critics believe that the corruption and systemic failures in the old checkmark approval process are not as problematic as Musk suggests. The change will also negate the perceived value that Musk is selling with his $8 verification package. Regular users will be able to buy a blue tick, which has long been a status symbol of sorts within the app, a recognition of notoriety or fame. But this will also make the checkmark meaningless in this context.
There isn’t any verification involved in the new system, with Twitter only relying on ‘payment verification’ as a qualifier for the new blue tick. Twitter Blue, the subscription program, has only seen 0.24% of the platform’s overall user base sign up so far. Twitter’s new algorithmic push will also implement from next week, with the only tweets appearing in its ‘For You’ feed recommendations coming from paying subscribers. However, research has shown that the majority of Twitter users never tweet, rendering any amplification incentive fairly meaningless for most of the platform’s 250 million users.
It remains to be seen if the removal of blue ticks will have any significant impact on Twitter’s user base or if Twitter Blue will see a rise in take-up. The only thing certain is that the next stage of Twitter’s subscription push will commence soon.