Twitter users may indeed soon be able to get a verification badge on their profile by paying $8 a month to sign up for the Twitter Blue subscription service, a change critics say could make it easier to spread disinformation on the social media platform. On Saturday, version notes for the latest iteration of Twitter’s app for the Apple iPhone showed up in the App Store, with a What’s New section that pointed to the verification feature.
The notes tell users that “starting today” if you “sign up now” for Twitter Blue, “your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.” It appears, though, that the program hasn’t actually kicked in yet. TechCrunch noted that “according to a tweet by Esther Crawford, a product lead at Twitter, the new Twitter Blue plan isn’t live yet but some users are seeing notifications as part of a live test.”
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the $8 per month pay-for-verification setup could launch as soon as next week. And The Verge had previously reported that Musk had given employees a launch deadline of this Monday, Nov. 7. (Crawford has reportedly been sleeping at the office to finish projects on time.)
The verification process was originally established to let users “know that an account of public interest is authentic,” as the Requirements for Verification page in Twitter’s Help Center puts it. Once users are verified, a blue badge containing a white check mark appears next to their name on Twitter. The process has traditionally involved things like submitting a government-issued ID, offering evidence that you’re a “prominently recognized individual or brand,” and having an active account.
9to5Mac reported that with Saturday’s update, “Twitter has also removed all of the previous verification infrastructure including the previously-required application process.” It isn’t clear what, if any, new verification process might be put into effect beyond the requirement of a paid Twitter Blue subscription. Critics have said a pay-for-verification system will do nothing more than provide proof of payment and may well increase the number of impersonators on the platform and make it simpler to disseminate misinformation.
Without providing details, Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted Saturday that “far too many legacy ‘verified’ checkmarks were handed out, often arbitrarily” and said “piggybacking off payment system plus Apple/Android is a much better way to ensure verification.”
Also, a Twitter user asked Musk what would happen if someone impersonated a previously verified profile “with a new profile having a paid blue tick.” Musk tweeted in response that, “Twitter will suspend the account attempting impersonation and keep the money!” but he didn’t offer specifics.
The version notes released Saturday said Twitter Blue with verification is available on iOS in Canada, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. Musk tweeted that it’ll roll out worldwide once it’s been confirmed to be working properly. It isn’t clear when an Android version might appear.
Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment Saturday.