Have you ever seen a Christopher Nolan movie? Something like Tenet, perhaps, where time moves backwards and nothing makes sense? That’s what Twitter’s blue and grey checkmark saga is starting to feel like.
Here’s a short recap of the events so far. Twitter’s blue checkmark used to prove users’ identities. Then, shortly after acquiring Twitter, new CEO Elon Musk rendered the blue checkmark mostly useless by making it a perk of purchasing a Twitter Blue subscription, meaning that everyone could get the checkmark for $8 per month, without any additional identity verification. Then, after a wave of impersonations, crude jokes, and memes (so many memes), Twitter then brought in an additional, gray checkmark saying “Official” for certain accounts, as a way to do what the blue checkmark originally did: prove a user’s identity.
But then, Elon Musk decided that the gray “Official” checkmark was no good. “I just killed it,” he tweeted. “Blue check will be the great leveler,” he added. The impersonations, trolling, and crude jokes commenced again.
But then — and we really, really hope this is the end of it — Twitter brought back the gray “Official” checkmark on some accounts, including the official “Twitter” account. Other accounts that have it include the Coca Cola company and, as a totally random example, Mashable. The account of the President of the United States has a special checkmark saying “United States government official.” The official account of the United Nations does not have the grey checkmark at the time of writing, and neither does the account of NATO.
As an example of just how messy this rollout has been, we present to you the official Twitter Support account, whose two latest tweets at writing time, one right above the other, contradict one another: One says the company is not putting an “Official” label on accounts, and the other says the opposite.
Credit: Stan Schroeder/Twitter
Musk hasn’t directly addressed the back and forth besides tweeting that “Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months.” He did say, however, that the gray “Official” checkmark was an “aesthetic nightmare” and an “another way of creating a two-class system.” So, the two-class system is back, we presume?
Musk also tweeted that there are “far too many corrupt Blue ‘verification’ checkmarks,” and that the company has no choice but to “remove legacy Blue in coming months.”
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It’s still unclear what one needs to do to get a gray “Official” checkmark. Twitter product lead Esther Crawford said the grey checkmarks will not be available for purchase, and that “accounts that will receive it include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures.”