Twitter began removing legacy blue checkmarks from individual accounts that weren’t paying the US$8 a month fee on Thursday, sparking confusion about which accounts were genuine.
Twitter removed the blue checkmarks for nearly all users that were verified under the previous system. The previous system was used under the former administration to verify journalists, celebrities and politicians who proved their identities on Twitter. Company owner Elon Musk, however, has personally paid membership costs for several high-profile celebrities.
People ranging from the Pope, Bill Gates and The Rock to former US President Donald Trump had removed their blue checks at the time of reporting, but the accounts of celebrities including Beyoncé, Tom Brady, Taylor Swift, LeBron James, Stephen King and Ice- T retained the tick.
When James and King later said they weren’t paying for the subscription, Musk revealed that he himself was paying for some, but later clarified that it was just James, King and the Star Trek star. It was William Shatner. Shatner previously complained about Musk’s change on Twitter.
Here’s what we know about navigating the new system.
How do I know the account is the real person they claim to be?
A Blue Check Verified badge doesn’t mean that person is who they say they are anymore. Now this means that they pay for membership and they have used a phone number.
Twitter has said that it will only apply the badge to accounts with a display name and profile photo that have been active in the past 30 days and must be older than 30 days. The company also says that it will not put a blue checkmark on accounts that have recently changed profile photos, display names, or usernames.
The only way to be sure of an account is to cross-reference what they say they are now against other websites. For example, on the Guardian, you can see the author’s Twitter handle next to their byline.
Government accounts, such as government agencies or heads of government such as the US President, Joe Biden, have gray ticks that note their association with government agencies.
However, it does not seem that the gray tick extends to every politician. The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, is given a gray tick, but the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has a blue tick, indicating he is subscribed to Twitter Blue.
Media accounts have been given overall yellow ticks. Kasturi started disclaimers such as “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” on various media accounts last week. NPR left Twitter once and for all after being labeled as government funded media.
If a media or government account doesn’t seem legitimate on Twitter, it’s also worth cross-referencing against their official pages to make sure.