Twitter reinstates Blue verification mark for top accounts — even if they didn’t pay for it
After removing thousands of legacy verification checkmarks on April 20, Twitter is restoring the Blue tick marks for large accounts — even if they didn’t pay for subscriptions.
Over the weekend, multiple top accounts (with more than 1 million followers) got their verification marks back. However, many of them, including writer Neil Gaiman, footballer Riyad Mahrez, musician Lil Nas X, actress Janel Parrish Long and British TV presenter Richard Osman said that they didn’t pay for the blue badge.
For the curious, I’m not subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t given anyone my phone number. What a sad, muddled place this has become. pic.twitter.com/Ju125xyoUx
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) April 23, 2023
(and no I didn’t pay for the blue tick 😆😆)
— Riyad Mahrez (@Mahrez22) April 23, 2023
on my soul i didn’t pay for twitter blue, u will feel my wrath tesla man!
— pussy (@LilNasX) April 22, 2023
I’m v confused by twitter these days…I didn’t pay for the blue check mark but she’s still here? 🤷🏻♀️ idk find me on Instagram I can’t be bothered
— Janel Parrish Long (@JanelParrish) April 22, 2023
So my blue tick is back. Rest assured I didn’t pay for it. Providing content has always been the entry price to use Twitter. And in return you let me bang on about my books or Fulham. By and large I love this site, and I’ve always been happy with that deal. I haven’t, and…
— Richard Osman (@richardosman) April 23, 2023
Over the last few days, the drama of Elon Musk & co’s handling of legacy checkmarks has engulfed Twitter with multiple large and notable accounts losing the verification mark. This included accounts belonging to the Pope, Shakira and Lady Gaga. Notably, the Pope now has a gray checkmark meant for government and multilateral organizations.
At that time, Musk said that he was “personally paying” for the subscription for a few accounts such as Lebron James, Stephen King and William Shantner. But the company seems to be extending that gift to many accounts.
As noted by The Verge, Twitter also restored verification for celebrity accounts who have passed away. This includes Michael Jackson, Chadwick Boseman, Barbara Walters, Paul Walker and Jamal Khashoggi. If you click on the label beside their profile it implies that these folks paid for the subscription and verified their phone numbers.
In March, The New York Times reported that Twitter was considering handing out a free verification mark to the top 10,000 brands and companies. It’s not clear if Twitter is applying the same policy to personal accounts.
A programmer named Travis Brown analyzed accounts that have more than 1 million followers and said that almost 110 don’t have Twitter verification at the moment. Actor Ryan Reynolds and Brazilian social media influencer Felipe Neto are probably the most notable names without a verification mark currently.
I just checked on this and found 110 accounts with more than a million followers that are not marked as Blue subscribers, out of a total of 9,884. The largest non-Blue account belongs to Ryan Reynolds, followed by Tesla. https://t.co/x662V8nsPg
— Travis Brown (@travisbrown) April 23, 2023
Brown’s GitHub page, which posts regular updates about Blue subscription, noted that only 4.8% of legacy verified accounts were subscribed to Twitter’s paid plan when the checks were removed.
He tweeted that there was only a net increase of 12,000 in the Blue subscription numbers in the last week — mostly due to the company gifting subscriptions to accounts with large followings.
This was supposed to be a big week for Twitter Blue, but I’ve only identified a net increase of 12k accounts, which is about a third of the previous week, and largely (entirely?) accounted for by Musk’s decision to “gift” thousands of subscriptions. https://t.co/nc1O6Nsoix
— Travis Brown (@travisbrown) April 23, 2023
Verification has been a hotly contested topic under the new Twitter management. Shortly after taking over the company, Musk launched paid verification, but the move backfired and the site was marred with fake celebrity and brand accounts.
Twitter is also now asking brands to pay for verification to run ad campaigns on the platform in a money-grabbing move. While the company is sending emails to various accounts about mandatory verification requirements for advertisements, it is yet to make any changes to the ads account page.
Additionally, the social network is showing a shortcut to sign up for verified organization services in the sidebar of all accounts.
Over the weekend, multiple people pointed out that Twitter’s organizational verification takes a $1,000 non-refundable fee even if the account’s application is rejected.
Musk is banking on Twitter Blue being a big moneymaker for the company. However, analysis from Sensor Tower suggested it brought in just $11 million from mobile subscriptions in the first three months after the launch in December.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.