Twitter CEO Elon Musk has made his presence known on the social media platform, for better, or for much worse. 

One of Musk’s ongoing trainwreck policy changes has been the ‘verified checkmark’ on Twitter. After Musk took ownership of the company back in October 2022, he made it clear that he wanted Twitter to move away from reliance on advertisers. Musk instated the ‘Twitter Blue” subscription service, which among other things grants users a blue check mark. 

Originally, Musk wanted the subscription service to cost $19.99 a month, but after backlash from author Stephen King, compromised on $7.99 a month. Musk said in a Twitter post in response to King, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?” 

I have to say that attempting to decrease reliance on advertisers seems good in theory. Nobody wants to be beholden to investors or companies, but the alternative of being a paid subscription service is antithetical to the idea of social media. Social media, in my view, is a modern-day public square. Everyone has a chance to be heard or pursue their interests with like-minded individuals from across the globe. Implementing a subscription service that allows those who pay to get their posts prioritized is profoundly disappointing. 

The ‘verified check’ used to be a way for well-known figures to differentiate their official account from impersonators. The system was useful because the potential for impersonators to take hold and attempt to ruin someone’s public image can be detrimental. I’m sure some people may have viewed the check next to their name as a status symbol, but, definitionally, it wasn’t. 

Musk shared the ‘lords & peasants’ view of the check, saying in another Twitter post, “Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bulls***. Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”

What I don’t understand about Musk’s view is how making the check mark come at a cost and allowing anyone to get one would fix this issue, if it even is one. 

For some time, Musk allowed current check-holders to keep their verified checks as ‘legacy accounts’ while allowing users to purchase theirs as well. But recently, Musk entirely removed all the ‘legacy account’ checks and now there are only two ways to get a check. The first way is through the aforementioned Twitter Blue, and the second way is for an ‘organization check’, which costs a whopping $1,000 a month to obtain. I’m sure prioritizing check-marked users who pay exorbitant amounts of cash won’t exacerbate the ‘lords & peasants’ system though. 

Now Twitter is in a position where well-known figures’ official accounts aren’t identifiable at first glance, increasing the opportunity for exploitation. While there are a few safeguards listed on Twitter’s verified information pages on their website, it simply isn’t enough. The system of verification worked just fine before, and it didn’t need to be fixed. Now Musk has scared away a good chunk of Twitter’s advertisers, according to Vox. 

Another concerning aspect of Musk’s Twitter takeover has been the expansion of labeling organizations as ‘government-funded media’. A consequence of this action was seen when Musk slapped the label on National Public Radio (NPR)’s Twitter feeds. Putting NPR in the same category as outlets in Russia and China is just crazy. NPR is not the media arm of the United States government, and they aren’t propagandists for the government either. According to Influence Watch, “Presently, NPR receives funding for less than 1% of its budget directly from the federal government, but receives almost 10% of its budget from federal, state, and local governments indirectly.” 

Because of Musk’s ill-informed decision to put this misleading label on NPR’s feed, the organization left Twitter indefinitely, a tremendous detriment to the platform. What Musk ceases to understand is that NPR doesn’t need Twitter to succeed. NPR will continue to produce content and be successful with or without it – if anything NPR provided a service to Twitter by having its consistent news feeds. I don’t blame NPR for leaving the platform after their mistreatment. 

As a journalist and a Twitter user myself, Musk’s actions have left me disenchanted by the platform. Twitter was one of the mediums where I always felt journalists were given a voice outside of their bylines, and good reporting won the day. I’m not sure if I can say the same anymore.

Nathan Hope can be contacted at

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